I discovered I’m an ambivert in my mid-late 30s after reading Susan Cain’s book, Quiet, The Power of Introverts in a World That Just Can’t Stop Talking. This discovery was accidental as my intention for reading this book was to better understand how to coach and train introverts. It’s so important as a trainer to be able to adjust your approach to your learners, and I’d noticed when I ran my group workshops that the extroverts always tried to dominate the discussions. It will be no surprise for you to read that I also observed a great deal of discomfort by some individuals when they were asked to share their thoughts straight after being asked a question. What I found interesting was that when I used a different approach with quieter people in the session, asking them to please consider their answer, take the time they needed to think about their response and then write it down for me, their insights were always incredibly powerful and useful for the rest of the group.
What Is An Ambivert?
Susan has a simple quiz (find out what you are here). Ambiverts are described on her Quiet Revolution website as being smack in the middle of the introvert-extrovert spectrum. In many ways, ambiverts have the best of both worlds, able to tap into the strengths of both introverts and extroverts as needed.Ambiverts can tap into the strengths of both introverts and extroverts as needed Click To Tweet
What Is An Introvert?
Susan suggests that, given the choice, introverts will devote their social energy to a small group of people they care about most, preferring a glass of wine with a close friend to a party full of strangers. Introverts tend to think before they speak, will have a more deliberate approach to risk, and definitely enjoy solitude.
Many of my clients are introverts, and if you’ve heard me speak about LinkedIn, you’ll know that I view LinkedIn as a very effective tool for introverts to network with their professional communities.
And so here’s where I had the ‘aha’ moment about what energises me and why I feel so drained after attending professional networking events. Susan’s research indicates that introverts are energized when focusing deeply on a subject or activity that really interests them. When they’re in overly stimulating environments, like Chadstone, The Fashion Capital, which is unfortunately my local place to shop (too loud, too crowded, etc.), they tend to feel overwhelmed. This means introverts will tend to seek out environments of peace, sanctuary, and beauty. The action happens more in their thoughts (which is why I get so much pleasure from working with introverts), and Susan describes them as having ‘an active inner life and are at their best when they tap into its riches’.
What Is An Extrovert?
When I did my first Myers-Briggs test many years ago (I think I was studying at university, working part time for a marketing lecturer at the time), I was identified as an ENFJ. The E in ENFJ stands for extrovert and so I naively took on this persona and wrongly assumed it fitted me.The E in ENFJ stands for extrovert and so I naively took on this persona Click To Tweet
Susan explains that extroverts relish social life and are energized by interacting with friends and strangers alike. They’re typically assertive, go-getting, and able to seize the day. Extroverts are great at thinking on their feet (which I am actually really good at too, if my energy reserves are okay) and are relatively comfortable with conflict. Given the choice, extroverts seek opportunities for social company and will usually prefer more stimulating environments that give them frequent opportunities to see and speak with others. When they’re in quiet environments, they’re prone to feeling bored and restless. They are actively engaged in the world around them and at their best when tapping into its energy.
Why Does It Matter Whether We Are Introverts, Ambiverts or Extroverts?
I’m sharing this information with you because my own discovery, and understanding of where I draw my energy and the role of passion projects in my life, has really helped me in my journey as a trainer, coach and parent.
After attending the Problogger conference, where I heard Emilie Wapnick and other people’s own journeys of self discovery, I was inspired to share more about my story and personality with you on this blog.
Darren Rowse, speaker, author, podcaster and founder of Problogger, identifies as an introvert, and is able to stand up on the stage at his Problogger training events and share his story about procrastination and the importance of taking action.
Susan believes understanding whether we have introvert, ambivert or extrovert tendencies matters because introversion and extroversion lie at the heart of human nature. One scientist refers to them as “the north and south of temperament.” When you make life choices that are congruent with your temperament—and allow others to do the same—you unleash vast stores of energy.
And so I want you to learn from the mistakes I made when I was classified as an ENFJ – because when you spend too much time battling your own nature, Susan suggests that you can in fact deplete yourself.
Interestingly, when I look back on my corporate career, pre-children, I recall a number of occasions where I felt exhausted just from the thought of the social events in my calendar. Having children’s helped me understand myself better (albeit it rocked my world and was a huge adjustment), with a few close friends suggesting I’d become a better version of myself (functioning at a more mindful and thoughtful pace). I now realise, with the help of Susan’s insights, that by having an excuse to slow down, have earlier nights and more quiet time at home, I was actually tapping into my need to recharge and be in my own thoughts.I recall a number of occasions where I felt exhausted just from the thought of the social events Click To Tweet
When I met Darren at Problogger I asked him if he was an introvert and he said yes.
I can identify with introverts, and feel a low level of discomfort when I am required to introduce myself and talk about Think Bespoke’s services to total strangers.
I have learnt that for ‘passion projects’ (as described by Susan, in Quiet), I am prepared to step outside my comfort zone. I now believe (and have learnt about myself) that where there is discomfort, there is also often growth.
This is certainly the case when I consider the wonderful people I have met and business relationships, and friendships, I have developed as a result of face to face networking. And what did I think of the Problogger training event? I found it inspiring.
An Interesting Case Study
Just a day after deciding to write about being an ambivert I saw this poll in the Epic Women in Business Facebook group which is an informative, collegiate and supportive women’s business forum led by Suzanne Chadwick. The mix of responses is really interesting. Of the 43 people who responded, 39% identified as introverts, 34% identified as ambiverts and 27% identified as extroverts. And you’ll note that extrovert was spelt as extravert, which is also how you can spell it!
And then since sharing this blog post with these lovelies after first writing it (because it was important to ask their permission to share where they said they drew their energy from), look what happened! With 4 more people adding their vote to the poll, we now have even more self identifying ambiverts!
What the Introverts Said About What Energises Them
Nature is my favourite energiser ? and connections with people who inspire me.
Sitting on the couch reading, a walk by myself, a nap, hot shower, massage (!) and yoga
I’ve become a lot more discerning with my time & energy over the years. Socialising for socialising’s sake leaves me cold, but I’ll give my right arm to connect and exchange ideas with like minded souls.
I’m more introverted but really enjoy spending time with close family and friends. I also love learning from others and having deeper conversations with pretty much anyone – not as much for small talk.
What the Ambiverts Said About What Energises Them
I love the energy of live presenting and training but don’t enjoy group get-togethers as much. I’m no good at small talk – I generally like to connect more deeply.
Introvert but I can wear the Extrovert too. (Think that makes me an Ambivert). I need MUCH more time alone than other people and spending a week by myself in the forest (or near the beach), reading, eating, listening to tunes and sleeping would be bliss. I am intuitive and read other people’s energy and emotions very easily (which is a strength in my line of work) so being alone a lot is a necessity to disconnect from all the outside input!
I used to be more of an extrovert but I’m much more in the middle now. I love people and high energy situations but then I need some time alone to recharge. I used to talk more too, now I listen more.I love people and high energy situations but then I need some time alone to recharge Click To Tweet
Best recharged by a good dose of Vitamin D – spent today out in the garden and feeling the best I’ve felt for ages!
I’m speaking to so many people that are saying – as they grow older, have kids, work with more people etc they have changed. I’m an extrovert at work and an introvert at home. I love being on stage and in the training room… LOVE it, but if a friend arranges to meet for coffee (like happened recently) and when I turn up others are there, I want to leave!I'm an extrovert at work and an introvert at home Click To Tweet
What the Extroverts Said About What Energises Them
I’m an extrovert but as I get older I have more introvert tendencies as well. I’ve always been inspired and energised by connection, conversations with old friends and making new friends. I love networking events and connecting with strangers around a common topic. But now days I also need my quite time, to read, journal and reflect. Without that I get burnt out and stop enjoying the extroverted stuff!
Yep I’m an extrovert 70% of the time. I love being around others and talking, connecting and laughing. I definitely get energised around other people. I do enjoy my own time as well especially listen to audible and now that I have kids, being by myself is bliss!!
I am an extrovert. Without a doubt. I’m finding though that I’m desperate for time alone more and more as I get older. Having said that, working from home alone sent me crazy earlier this year. I realised working with people face to face is where I belong at least some of the time. I’m always energised collaborating with others.
Well, I’m an extrovert, a real people person. As I’ve got older and working in toxic places in the past few years I’ve felt drawn to be on my own when home. I feel at my best when talking/teaching others around me what I know . . finding that JOY is the key to our self care. I’ve dreamt of working from home…well if I love people that might be challenge in the future!
What My Introvert Husband Said After He Read This Post
That’s Mr H reading my post from the website. I wanted to read it out to him, but he wanted to be left alone to read it himself . . you can read Mr H’s comment below.
That’s right folks, a man who prefers to read technical manuals and engage in Volkswagen and custom car forums, read my blog (because I asked him to – mainly so he understood what value I got from that weekend away at the Problogger conference . . ), and felt compelled to even leave a comment.
I did not ask him to do this, promise! He also suggested I send this blog post to an introvert friend of ours who he thought would totally relate. While Mr H feels he is an introvert, he did say he also feels comfortable thinking on his feet.
So we can all perhaps see parts of ourselves in these descriptions and yet some of our tendencies do move us up and down the scale of introversion and extroversion.