This question popped up in a discussion thread on Facebook yesterday:
Beth, have you observed the varying degrees of introversion? Do you think there are hybrid innies?
Besides learning the real definitions of “introvert” and “extrovert,” the answer to this question seems to result in the most relief among people I have presented to over the past two years.
Part of the answer is that we all have introvert and extrovert qualities and preferences. The power comes from knowing which one is more dominant. Once you know which team you bat for, you can make intentional choices that support your energy needs. You can be more proactive about taking care of yourself, rather than doing reactive damage control.
But what if you can bat for both teams? Here’s what I shared as my answer to the Facebook question:
“Kristen, great question. There’s a term – ambiverts – that describes those who walk the line between introversion and extroversion. We’re all on a continuum, with some leaning way more to one side than the other, and lots of us close to the middle. I talk about core vs cultivated energy… we have our core, in-born and preferred way to re-energize and process, and we have a cultivated way that we’ve developed to fit into social/professional situations. So, I’m a core innie with some cultivated outtie abilities that enable me to get my butt out of the house when I need to get in front of people. Introverts can cultivate the ability to project their energy outward when needed (like when public speaking or participating in a meeting), and extroverts can cultivate the ability to project energy inward (when they need to listen or be more reflective).
“To that end, I also prefer to speak about introversion/extroversion as energetic types, as opposed to personality types. That helps us return to the root meaning of the phrases, which is about where our energy is derived and directed. Otherwise, we get caught up in thinking it’s all about social skills and nothing else.”
When I share the term “ambiverts,” there is always a smattering of faces in the audience that light up with delight. They say, “oh, that’s what I think I am!” They start to understand why people can both energize and drain them, why quiet time can leave them buoyed or bored. They listen to descriptions of core introvert and extrovert traits and find themselves split down the middle… not just depending on the circumstances, but in everyday life.
Carl Jung offered this: “The shoe that fits one person pinches another; there is no recipe for living that suits all cases.” In the area of the human psyche, one size never fits all. However you see yourself – innie, outtie or ambi – you have thousands of shades of gray (and color!) that paint a picture of the complex and wonderful human being that you are.
Self-awareness is one of the critical keys to happiness… along with that, self-acceptance. Understand your energy, own your energy and embrace the exploration of the more nuanced aspects of yourself, knowing it will enrich your entire life.
What do you think? Do you identify more with innie, outtie or ambi traits? What’s helped you to build self-awareness and self-acceptance? Please share in the comments!
PS: Looking for resources to support awareness and acceptance? I’m pleased to share that I’ve published a book to help with just that! It’s called “Insight: Reflections on the Gifts of Being an Introvert,” and you can learn more here: http://www.BethBuelow.com/insight-reflections-on-the-gifts-of-being-an-introvert
Featured Image: A sampling of “likes” (used with permission) from http://facebook.com/theintrovertentrepreneur
I know three people who self-identify as ambi. Having taken the MBTI (and being one of those “show me the data” types), I already knew that each of the “points” on the MBTI scales was a continuum. When you look at your results, many of the tests show your location on that line. I’m a definite I, but I wobble on the MBTI S/T scale.
And, of course, _everyone_ is different. That’s why MBTI lists 16 types (and different people fall at different points in the 16 boxes). There are infinite personalities, so yes, there are going to be varying degrees, based on nature, nurture, time of day, what you had for breakfast, whether you have a headache starting or just feel a bit down today…
That should have said “the MBTI N/S scale”. There is no S/T line.
@introvertcoach i can have both worlds as long as i give out then rest give out – rest self observation is key & knowing what u value most
@gardenshine Well put – that’s what it’s all about… values are fundamental (writing a post about this right now, in fact!) 🙂
The thing I’ve observed is some of my proclaimed extrovert friends need downtime every now and then too. All of us extrovert and introvert all day long. But because we’ve turned the verb to a noun many people forget this. Yes, my extrovert friends on occasion might want to read a book rather than be out reading a crowd. But clearly, this is not their preference most days!
Thankfully there are so many of us online like you Beth, who are working toward greater clarity, understanding, acceptance and leveling the field for all of us to be just who we are.
Thanks for the post.
@patweber The terms “extrovert” and “introvert” define how a person gets their energy. They don’t define whether a person never needs downtime any more than they define whether a person is shy or antisocial.
I may sometimes be out and about in public. I may talk a lot. I may attend a party. I never “extrovert”. (we didn’t turn verbs into nouns. The words have always been nouns or, better yet, adjectives).
@vlbatcfcl we’re saying the same thing a bit differently. That’s a reason I stated, we have preferences. You are absolutely right: our preferences are due to whether we prefer the outside stimulation from all going on outside us, or the inside stimulation we can from the playground of our own mind. That’s energy in motion.
However I will say, we do extrovert and introvert (the verb) all the time. Do you ever enjoy the act of research so that you want to stay in that task? Because you are energized by it – that’s introverting. Do you ever find when a party ends that you want to extend the clock or go on to another party, again because you feel charged up from up it – that’s extroverting.
I believe the words can be used as nouns, verbs and adjectives! We are saying similar things, but with a different slant.Thank goodness for differences.
@patweber I hear where you’re coming from, but the thing is, intro/extra isn’t “just” a preference. It’s phsyiological. There are actual brain differences.
And, no, (for me) I have _never_ found that when a party ends I wish it would go on. Besides, I’m usually long gone before it ends. 🙂
But I agree that there are people on another point on the spectrum, closer to the center, who may feel both ways at different times.
When I took the Myers Brigg test I scored close to being an extrovert. For me it’s about how much or little, I should say, I share about myself. I do get energized by being around others, but usually it’s those who help draw me out by asking good questions and showing a sincere interest that most energize me because I am very willing to open up when asked. I too love being in the limelight like public speaking. But at the end of the day I best recharge by spending time with myself. So, I guess I’m an innie with outie tendencies.
Thanks for a great post Beth.
@tinnekke Thanks for the tweet of my post, Tinnekke! http://t.co/gIf0xZAF