Featured Post: Introverted/Extroverted – the perfect balance?
A balanced personality could be the key to success
An introverted extrovert sounds like a contradiction, but there are plenty of them out there.
Nicknamed ambiverts, they are often “evolved extroverts”, who have tempered their naturally outgoing personality with self-reflection. Or they may have trained themselves to be more outgoing despite a natural tendency towards introversion. Whatever the cause, psychologists are starting to think that ambiverts at work have the best of both worlds.
For decades, extroversion was seen as a positive characteristic in the workplace, maybe even necessary for career success. Extroverts were go-getters who could close a deal; introverts were shy weirdos who did IT support. There’s been a recent backlash against this stereotype, a fight spearheaded by Susan Cain’s 2013 book Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. There are blogs and support groups like Introvert Retreat and Introvert Zone and even career coaches who specialise in introverts. This pendulum swing is welcome and long overdue. Extroverted characteristics like assertiveness are most commonly seen in people from privileged backgrounds – especially in men who aren’t used to being contradicted. An office full of outgoing people is likely to be disproportionately middle-class white guys.
Worth a read: I’m an extrovert – give me a break!
But despite all the heat about extroverts versus introverts, the majority of the population is neither one nor the other. Psychologists see the traits as existing on a continuum, with only a small fraction of people at the far ends. Tests like the Myers-Briggs split the population into two types by drawing a line through the middle of the spectrum, but most people – two-thirds of the population – are closer to the middle than to either end. For a long time, these ambiverts were seen as a boring middle group with no interesting features, but research is starting to suggest they have an advantage over the more extreme personality types.
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INTROVERTED EXTROVERT MORE SUCCESSFUL
A recent study of salespeople showed that introverts and extroverts had similarly unimpressive sales records. It was the middle-of-the-road group, the introverted extroverts, who were breaking targets.
The authors of the study suggested that these ambiverts provided the perfect balance of characteristics: they had the confidence to make a pitch, but were attentive enough to pick up on cues from customers. Ambiverts at work tend to hit the just-right balance between two contrasting styles of behaviour. They work happily alone, but are more comfortable in groups than introverts. They interact with others in a purposeful way, without the unfocused openness which often makes extroverts distracting to work with. Like introverts, they think carefully about what they learn, but they aren’t stuck with the same narrow range of interests.
An ambivert at work has endless flexibility. They can call on their outgoing side for networking, or their thoughtful side for analysis. It’s often compared to being bilingual: as an introverted extrovert, you are comfortable with two different styles of communication, and can choose which one will suit the situation.
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