Career – Ambivert
If you’re neither the loudest nor the quiet mouse in the office, then chances are you are an ‘in-betweener.’ Here’s how to make it work to your advantage in the workplace
We’re judged by our personalities, whether we like it or not. From the psychometric tests in high school, you were told that you’re more of this than that, so therefore, one career is better suited for you than the next. This linear approach to personality traits classifies you as either extroverted (outgoing) or introverted (shy), and does not take into account that you can be a mixture of the two or lean more towards one than the other.
In a study, Rethinking the Extraverted Sales Ideal: The Ambivert Advantage, by Adam M. Grant, from the
University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, the author dispels the myth that people in sales and marketing should be extroverts. In a study of 340 outbound call centre representatives, he found that ambiverts were better suited to this kind of job as they can be robust, yet also able to listen.
“I propose that the relationship between extraversion (socially outgoing) and sales performance is not linear but curvilinear: ambiverts achieve greater sales productivity than extroverts or introverts do. Because they naturally engage in a flexible pattern of talking and listening, ambiverts are likely to express sufficient assertiveness and enthusiasm to persuade and close a sale but are more inclined to listen to customers’ interests and are less vulnerable to appearing too excited or overconfident,” Grant concludes.
Which begs the question: what is an ambivert?
Thoriso Maseng, a career centre manager at North-West University, explains that, through the results of psychometric tests, individuals who fall in the middle, between introversion and extroversion are considered ambiverts.
“For example, in an assessment environment, normally a 16 personality type test will be taken to determine what personality traits a person possesses. An analysis of all the factors will sometimes give a middle point or the average of the scoring scale. In this instance, one can conclude that a group in the middle is the ambivert group,” he says. Whether you’re bang in the middle of the scale or leaning slightly towards the one side, as an ambivert, you’re more adaptable in situations which can work to your advantage in the workplace.
ADVANTAGES OF BEING AN AMBIVERT
Being a chameleon is a superpower, as Phiona Martin, industrial psychologist and career coach, highlights as the advantages of being an “in-betweener”. “Being an ambivert means you’re likely able to use the strengths of both personality types to your advantage. It also means you’re quite dynamic in different settings, you can fit in well with introverts as well as extroverts. You can easily adjust your approach, whereas the other distinct personality types have to stretch a bit to adapt behaviours of the opposite personality type,” Martin explains.
Ayanda Mbanga, a recruitment specialist, suggests the added advantage for an ambivert is that you’re more likely to be given a task because you can rise to different occasions. “You have to be able to switch to propel your career forward. Nothing is a straight line, but through self-knowledge you’ll discover what you are, and will be able to play to your strengths, regardless of
whichever side is more prominent. As an employee, the most important thing is having a team player and a person that is real and match them to a task. At the end of the day, there is a job to be done and it’s about if you’re the right person to execute it. Ambiverts have that skill and potential,” Mbanga says.
NAVIGATING THE OFFICE
How you “show up” is very important to how people receive you. We relate and are drawn to people in the office for various reasons, but being able to “peg” someone, comforts many. As an ambivert, you might be hard to “peg” down, but our experts advise to stay genuine but to be mindful of how others relate to you.
Mbanga advises to remain true to yourself regardless of your adaptability. “In my experience, you’ll find yourself in many situations where you might have to entertain clients. If you’re introverted you have to be brave and sparkle. As an ambivert, on the other hand, you can easily draw from your outgoing side. The main thing, regardless of where you fall on the spectrum, is that you have to be authentic,” she adds.
The best way to do that, Mbanga continues, is to draw from whatever source that re-energises you. That could be unwinding at home with your favourite series, or having a wine catchup session with your bestie. “We all have what is comfortable to us but in a work environment, you have to be able to navigate it more professionally and do what is required of you. But don’t forget to gather strength and regroup to get back to who you are,” she says.
Martin cautions that, although you’re versatile as an ambivert, you must be careful not to come across as wishy-washy. “As someone who will probably be dynamic, make use of the advantages of each personality type (introversion or extraversion). In the same vein, be careful to not be seen as inauthentic due to how well adaptive you can be,” she explains.
You’re able to fit into a diverse working environment with different staff members which is great, but Maseng warns of the downside of being approachable. “The downside, is that sometimes, ambivert people can be seen as too casual about responsibilities or unorganised,” Maseng says.
Is it the year of the ambivert? Well, regardless of where you fall on the personality scale, be authentically you and slay in your lane.