An ambivert is someone who falls in the middle of the introvert/extrovert continuum. Ambiverts have a blend of traits from both introverts and extroverts, as well as their own unique strengths.
Have you always struggled with the question, “Are you an introvert or an extrovert”? If so, there’s a good chance you’re an ambivert — someone who is a little of both. Ambiverts are fascinating individuals who can be excellent conversationalists as well as excellent listeners. But that’s only part of the story. In this guide, we’ll help you understand what ambiversion is, how to know if you’re an ambivert, and how to draw on your natural gifts. Read on and see if ambiversion sounds like you.
What Is Ambiversion?
Ambiversion is related to introversion and extroversion, the two different “temperaments” that people can have. A lot of us talk about these two traits as if they are either/or — you have to be one or the other. But that’s not quite right. The truth is that introversion and extroversion are on a spectrum, and nobody is 100% one or the other. Not even the quietest introvert or the chattiest extrovert.
As a result, lots of people are somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. If that’s you:
- You might feel like you don’t really fit under either label
- Or, you might feel like both labels resonate at different times
- If someone asks whether you prefer to be around people, or have alone time, your answer is a simple, “It depends.
Ambiversion is a relatively recent term, but a growing number of people identify with it. It’s hard to say how many people are ambiverts. Psychologist Carl Jung didn’t use the exact term “ambivert,” but he believed that people who are neither highly introverted nor highly extroverted are in the majority. Some recent experts make a similar claim, suggesting that two thirds of all people are ambiverts.
However, these numbers can be misleading. The truth is that, even near the middle of the spectrum, most people lean one way or another. Knowing which way you lean is important to understanding where you get your energy from — even if you’re a “soft” introvert or extrovert. True ambiverts may be relatively rare. Some estimates put them at 20% of the population or less.
11 Signs That You’re an Ambivert
So, how do you know if you’re truly an ambivert? Chance are, you already have a pretty good idea. While every ambivert is unique, there are common experiences that many of them share. If you relate to most of these signs, you might be an ambivert:
1. You don’t shy away from attention, but it depends on the context.
In a lot of situations, you’re happy just quietly observing.
2. You enjoy being at a crowd, party, or group event for hours…
…and then suddenly your energy is gone. When this happens, you just want to get out of there.
3. You prefer meaningful talk
Like extroverts, you enjoy conversation — but, like introverts, you hate small talk. (You can do it, you just find it a little less than sincere.)
4. There are limits to your social comfort zone
You’re comfortable socializing (usually), but asserting yourself can be difficult.
5. You’re very reserved in some situations
You present a very different persona to co-workers and casual acquaintances than you do to close friends. If you don’t know someone well, you tend to be much more reserved.
6. You like to have backup
You actually really enjoy meeting new people, but you prefer to have your friends around you when you do it. You’re unlikely to run up and introduce yourself to a complete stranger, at least on your own.
7. You don’t quite fit either label (but you kinda fit both)
When you take an introvert/extrovert quiz, you get different results depending on how you’re feeling. Descriptions of both temperaments resonate with you equally. And if you ask your friends if they think you’re an introvert or extrovert, they give conflicting answers.
8. You hang back
You’re excited to go to social events, but often start out just observing everyone around you.
9. You take alone time in small doses
You understand that you need and enjoy it, but one night to yourself is usually plenty. An entire weekend alone would leave you restless and wondering what you’re missing.
10. You (usually) think before you speak
You don’t have a problem putting your thoughts into words, like many introverts do. However, you’ll often wait to hear what others say first before you speak up.
11. You tend to “balance out” the people around you.
If someone’s a talker, you’ll be quieter and listen. If they’re quieter, you’ll talk more.
Ambiverts Have Natural Strengths
Ambiverts, like every temperament, have their own set of strengths that’s hard for other people to match. One of the core ambivert traits is adaptability, and that comes out in many of the ways ambiverts interact with the world. If you’re an ambivert, you may recognize many of these signs:
- Ambiverts speak and listen well. Ambiverts tend to be comfortable speaking, but are also happy to let other people speak. That makes other people very comfortable around them, and leads to meaningful conversation that both people enjoy.
- They build trust. Conversation and feeling listened to is one of the biggest ways that we build trust. At the same time, we’re more comfortable around people who seem friendly, funny and sociable. Since ambiverts are able to do both, people have an easy time being around them and tend to like and trust them.
- They get along with everyone. Sometimes, extreme introverts and extreme extroverts have a hard time getting along — the introvert may feel steamrolled and exhausted while the extrovert may feel bored or put off. Ambiverts don’t (usually) have this problem. They can be comfortable talking with someone who’s more quiet, or with someone who’s a talker.
- They can handle extremes. Unlike the other temperaments, ambiverts will be at their best in a variety of social settings — or solitude. While extreme introverts and extroverts really suffer outside their comfort zone, ambiverts can usually put up with a high or low level of stimulation, and don’t lose their energy as fast.
- Ambiverts truly empathize with people. Given the other strengths above, it’s no surprise that ambiverts are able to build strong rapport and empathy with other people. They are good listeners, but not afraid to speak up. And their capacity to build trust helps people open up to them.
The Best Ambivert Careers
Because ambiverts are so adaptable, they can thrive in a variety of careers. However, there are some positions where ambiverts truly shine, and even outperform others.
Here are some of the top career fields for ambiverts:
- Sales positions. There is strong data showing that ambiverts outperform both introverts and extroverts when it comes to sales. The reason is simple: they don’t talk too much and sound pushy (the classic extroverted salesperson), but they also don’t talk too little and lose the sale. And ambiverts are versatile. They can thrive in both consumer sales, and the research-heavy B2B market where introverts normally dominate.
- Creative teams. Many creative occupations are, by their nature, solitary. It’s simply impossible to do the deep focused work of creativity without some level of solitude. However, creatives are widely used as part of teams at advertising companies, web development firms, and in large corporations. These creatives have to balance the need for collaboration (which can often spark ideas) with a need for focused quiet time. Creatively-inclined ambiverts can do both, and do well in a team environment.
- Mediation or negotiation. Almost no one is better than ambiverts at negotiating difficult compromises. For the same reasons they are great at sales, ambiverts perform well in roles where they need to listen carefully to both sides but also guide and shape the conversation. However, mediation in the legal field may be more challenging — lawyers typically spend a majority of their time reading and researching, and the legal profession is dominated by introverts. That doesn’t mean ambiverts can’t be successful, but they may find themselves craving a more social role.
- Management. In many ways, the ambivert is the ideal manager or supervisor, especially of larger teams. Ambiverts will make a point to listen to different points of view, and will often led meetings by letting everyone else speak first. This builds loyalty and trust, and allows ambiverts to make smart, considered decisions. At the same time, the ambivert is willing to speak up and take the lead wherever necessary. It’s a powerful mix.
- Psychologists and therapists. Many career sites suggest counseling or therapy as a good fit for ambiverts, and it’s true that many ambiverts self-report working in this field. But ambiverts should be wary: actual psychotherapy sessions involve a lot of listening and one-on-one conversations, with very little social outlet. Ambiverts will still excel in private sessions, but may want to add group session to the mix wherever possible to get a stronger social element in their work.
Other Possible Explanations of Ambiversion
Although the most common definition of an ambivert is someone who falls near the middle of the introvert/extrovert spectrum, not everyone agrees. In fact, there are two other possible explanations that could apply to at least some ambiverts — and could help those ambiverts truly thrive and be happy. They are:
#1 — Ambiversion is a misnomer
Let’s start by getting this straight: you exist. People like you exist. And there are a whole lot of people who do like socializing, but also get drained if they do it for too long.
So what does that make you? Well… it could mean you’re a very normal introvert.
The problem is that many people misunderstand what introversion means. They think it’s the same thing as being shy or not liking social time, but that’s not true at all. While some introverts struggle with shyness, most don’t. And there are millions of true, dyed-in-the-wool introverts who honestly like socializing. They just get drained after a while.
That sounds pretty similar to ambiversion, right?
In other words, if you tend to need downtime after too much time around people, but you also love going out to parties or events, you might be an introvert after all. And that’s pretty cool.
#2 — Ambiverts are actually HSP extroverts
Some people have another personality trait that’s unrelated to introversion and extroversion, called high sensitivity. Being a highly sensitive person (HSP) doesn’t necessarily mean you’re super emotionally sensitive (although some HSPs are). Rather, it means your nervous system processes things more deeply than most people. That comes with a variety of advantages:
- HSPs tend to pick up on things that others don’t notice
- They make connections that others miss
- They have a tremendous ability to pick up on subtle emotional cues
- Many HSPs are highly creative
But there’s another trait HSPs have that really stands out: they get overstimulated easily.
Any highly stimulating environment drains them — whether it’s bright lights, loud noises, or large crowds of people. Too much social time can leave an HSP feeling totally frazzled. Even if they’re an extrovert.
About 30% of HSPs are extroverted by nature, but they often get mislabeled as introverts. So, if you feel extroverted in general but still get worn out after going out too long, you might not be an ambivert at all. You could be a highly sensitive extrovert.
Why do these explanations matter?
It depends. If neither one of them resonates with you, even just a little, it might be safe to say you’re truly middle of the spectrum and move on. But, even though these theories may sound very different on the surface, they both get at something very important: understanding our personalities is one of the biggest ways to grow.
- If you think you’re an ambivert but you’re really more of an introvert, there’s a lot of power in realizing that. It’s when an introvert embraces their need for alone time that they truly come into their own. You’ll feel happier as a person, and be more creative, productive and successful. (You might want to read about outgoing or “extroverted” introverts.)
- If you’re a highly sensitive extrovert, you can actually get all the social time you want as long as you do it in the right settings. Many HSPs are just fine in groups as long as they can control the setting a little — by choosing a quieter place to meet, or sitting with their back to the wall. You might also find that you never get overstimulated at all as long as you stick to small groups of 2 – 4 friends.
Understanding your personality is a powerful tool. The more you understand yourself and your needs, the more you’ll thrive as a person — whether you are an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert.
Are you an Ambivert?
Think you might be an ambivert? You might want to discover the rest of your personality, too — and there’s an easy way to do it. Try this free personality assessment from our partner Personality Hacker and see your personality type in minutes.