Tough Love For Extreme Introverts And Extroverts
A week ago, I had a conversation with friends about how they see me as being an extrovert and the “outgoing” type of guy. As you can imagine, I felt a bit puzzled and asked out of curiosity: “Based on what do you think I’m extrovert?” What they have answered made me feel boxed and have led to misunderstandings and limits my and their personality.
These are the answers they gave me:
- Extroverts get energy from social interaction;
- Extroverts are better leaders than introverts;
- Extroverts are better networkers;
- Extroverts are bad listeners;
- Extroverts don’t like quiet or alone time.
None of these is true or untrue. It’s situational.
There Is A Third Group
Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, invented the terms introvert and extrovert in 1920s. Simply put, Jung perceived introverts as drawing energy from being alone, while extroverts draw it from their surroundings and relationships.
However, Jung approved of the fact that there is also a third group. He theorised there was a middle group, which are called “ambiverts”: people with balance, nuanced personalities composed of both introverted and extroverted qualities. Psychologists didn’t start using the term ambivert until the 1940s.
“The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.” — Carl Jung
Advantage And Disadvantage
According to an interview with Wharton psychologist Adam Grant, ambiverts make up between half and two-thirds of the population.
Researchers explain how ambiverts gain the advantage in life and business by combining the best of both sides. In one study and several others alike, ambiverts perform higher sales activity than introverts or extroverts. In some cases, even twice as much. Since ambiverts can listen as well as assert themselves, they’re ideal salespeople, co-workers, business owners and leaders perhaps.
However, of course, they have disadvantages too. Ambiverts are in the middle of the two personalities, and therefore, they can find it challenging to know which side of their personality to lead in certain situations. Whereas introverts and extroverts are often sure what they prefer. Because of the struggle in decision making, they might find themselves demotivated, but they don’t understand why. They might not realise they need to change their approach to a situation to feel more motivated.
Growth And Fixed Mindset
I want to point out that extreme introverts and extroverts rarely exist, and leaning towards an extreme personality could be the result of what psychologist Carol Dweck calls a “fixed mindset.”
Research performed by Dweck made a distinction between a growth mindset and fixed mindset. With the former believing, one can cultivate one’s own qualities and personality with effort, while the latter believe that one has a limited amount of intellect or talent, a certain personality, an unchallengeable character.
A recent study by Paul Atkins and Robert Styles placed fixed mindset as a “self-as-story”. This means you believe you’re a certain person because that’s just how you are, it’s the story you tell yourself about you. The study explained that, for example, a person who conceptualises themselves as introverted may have difficulty recognizing their own extroverted behaviour.
Furthermore, “self-as-story” tendencies are linked to reduced happiness, performance, self-esteem, creativity, flexibility and self-awareness, particularly if self-conceptualisations are negative. The worst is that the story we tell about ourselves isn’t true, but we still choose to believe it.
Uncovering Of Ambiverts
The uncovering of ambiverts is part of an investigation suggesting that healthy personalities are situational. Some experts even think personality is a myth because people are inconsistent. We believe we can’t change our personality, meanwhile, we change more than we think we will depending on what happens in our lives.
When we smile, we feel happier and we act how we believe and if we believe we’re introverted or extroverted, we act that way. However, the problem arises when our beliefs are only pointing in one direction. No need for separation, instead, start thinking about how we can combine the two approaches here effectively.
“Ambivert: I’m both introvert and extrovert. I like people, but I need to be alone. I’ll go out, vibe and meet new people but it has an expiration because I have to recharge. If I don’t ﬁnd the valuable alone time I need to recharge I cannot be my highest self.” — Sylvester McNutt III
We Are Both
Ambiverts are aware that categorising with exclusively one trait is draining. Maybe, you do too. Try to recall a situation when you had an inner conflict on what your introverted or extroverted personality stereotypically desires.
Of course, people’s personalities differ, but the introvert or extrovert debate has a dividing, restrictive effect on our potential to see what a given scenario needs. Eventually, our success gets taken away by what our personality types can “handle.” We need both, because we are both.
We despise labels others give us, so why do we give them to ourselves?
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