Whether you are making small talk in a work environment, having a conversation with a close friend or chatting with someone online, your personality shines through in all that you do. Personality traits are the underlying factors that determine how you interact and react in any given social situation — and the more you know about these traits, the more it can help you learn how best to navigate inside and outside of your comfort zone.
The most well-known personality traits are introversion and extroversion. An introvert is someone who mostly feels recharged after quiet reflection and “alone time,” while an extrovert mostly draws energy from being around people and thrives in social situations. But what if neither description quite fits the bill? That’s where a new designation — the ambivert — comes into play.
What is an Ambivert?
The term “ambivert” is used to describe personality traits that reside somewhere in the middle spectrum of introverts and extroverts and was coined by researchers who saw that personalities are not quite so black and white. Ambiverts have the personality traits of both extroverts and introverts and tend to be less extreme in any given characteristic. Even the most introverted individuals can behave in an extroverted way, and extroverts also enjoy some quality self-reflection time.
There is no single way to define an ambivert — but perhaps the best way to think about this personality is as a blend of introverted and extroverted characteristics. For example, an ambivert might be somewhat talkative, relatively assertive, and not exceptionally sociable or excitable. They might be moderately enthused by interacting with others and also slightly drained by the experience. Because ambiverts have both sets of characteristics in their toolbox, they can sometimes use their diverse personality traits to fit a wider array of situations and circumstances.
Signs You May Be an Ambivert
There are many individuals who, depending on the circumstance, can be either an introvert or an extrovert — this indeed makes them an ambivert. An ambivert, for instance, can enjoy social interactions and succeed in them, while also recognizing that sometimes they need to step away to recenter, according to Talkspace therapist Joanna Filidor, LMFT.
As a result, however, ambiverts may struggle to know what side of the personality spectrum they fall under. Consider the following signs when determining if you might be an ambivert or have ambivert character traits:
- Good listening and communication abilities
While extroverts prefer to talk more and introverts prefer to observe and listen, ambiverts will have an ability to know when to speak up and when to listen.
- Ability to regulate behavior and response
There is a natural ability to adjust and fit your personality to certain people and situations.
- Comfortable in social situations, while valuing alone time
Ambiverts can feel at ease in a crowd and then also enjoy a quiet evening alone at home. They may consider the pros and cons of each situation, and ultimately, may be comfortable in either situation.
- Empathy comes naturally
Ambiverts have an ability to listen and demonstrate that they understand where a person is coming from.
- Provide balance in social situations
When ambiverts are in a group setting, they are able to break an awkward silence and make introverts and extroverts feel comfortable.
Advantages and disadvantages of being an ambivert
Those with an ambivert personality have a unique ability to take advantage of traits on both ends of the introvert and extrovert spectrum. The flexibility can be a strength, while also taking a toll on an ambivert in certain instances.
- Ability to grow and manage relationships with relative ease
- Can be captivating and engaging when speaking
- An effective manager to both introverts and extroverts
- Knows when to speak up and when to listen
- Seeking balance may lead to exhaustion
- Likely finds self in “peace keeper” role in a social and work setting
- Pressure to remain a certain way in a specific event or setting — others may not realize the alternate side of an ambiert’s personality
How Therapy Can Be Beneficial for Ambiverts
Because ambiverts tend to have a blended temperament, the challenge arises when a person tries to balance out their introvert and extrovert characteristics, Filidor said. Therapy becomes an opportunity for ambiverts to explore harmony between the two. It can help someone identify ways to recognize when an internal shift is happening in certain situations — mainly when a person is shifting from feeling extroverted to introverted — allowing them to act instead of react to the changes in their temperment.
Ambiverts have many positive traits, and if you are someone who feels equally fulfilled both by going out in a social setting and staying at home for quality alone time, you may be an ambivert. While the introverted and extroverted characteristics an ambivert possesses can each be valuable in various situations, it is important to be mindful that you are not overextending yourself. Learning more about how you act and react to different stimuli can improve how you relate to others and how you take care of your own needs.