The media is full of discussion of introverts and extroverts, their differing needs, myths about these groups, and advice to help them thrive. But the ironic truth is that most people are neither. Research shows the majority of us are actually somewhere toward the middle of the introvert-extrovert spectrum, a huge group of people science labels ambiverts.
That's good news for business as studies have shown ambiverts actually outperform those who are either strongly introverted or extroverted in certain important areas, such as sales. But the relative silence about the number of ambiverts out there and the pros and cons of this personality type isn't exactly helping outgoing introverts thrive.
With radio silence on how to care for your friendly local ambivert, those who sometimes crave solitude and sometimes act like social butterflies are forced to operate without expert advice. The Quiet Revolution blog recently aimed to fix that problem with a long post delving into the unique strengths and vulnerabilities of this hefty slice of the population. It also offered useful tips to help them make the most of their flexible personality.
Double the danger of burnout.
The basic message of the article can be summed up simply -- if you're an ambivert, you're not immune from burnout. You're actually at double the risk.
Introverts burn out from too much social contact, and extroverts can make themselves crazy with excessive isolation (though be careful, extroverts, you probably need more alone time than you think, according to science). Ambiverts, who flourish when they have just the right balance of solitude and sociability, face both dangers -- they can burn out if they have either too much time with people or too little.
So how do you maximize your chances of success and happiness if you have one of these precisely calibrated characters? Author and management professor Karl Moore offers three solid tips:
1. Control your environment.
To the best of your ability, try to hold on to the ability to shape your schedule and environment to be more in line with your current craving for either quiet or social stimulation. "If you need a break from everyone, you can try shutting your office door or putting on noise-canceling headphones for 30 minutes. If you haven't spoken with anyone all day, getting coffee or calling a friend on your break can be extremely energizing. Flexibility is key," insists Moore.
2. Plan ahead.
You know you swing back and forth between a need for quiet recharging and a craving for social energy, so plan for this in advance. "Recognize that a weekend full of socializing will probably leave you feeling burnt out by Monday, so take steps to make sure that you have enough 'me time,'" suggests Moore. Or, do the reverse and "try to reserve Sunday for solitude so that on Monday you are ready to meet with people first thing."
3. Learn to say "no."
This is good advice for everyone, but especially for ambiverts, who can frequently be asked to push their inherent flexibility a little too far. "It's easy to be swept into obligations that you shouldn't take on if you are in an extroverted mood," says Moore. "If you overcommit, you will start to feel burnt out and anxious, and it will be apparent in your work."
Hey ambiverts, do you have any other success-boosting strategies to maximize the potential of your personality type to share?