Are you an introvert or an extrovert? It’s a question everyone’s been asked at some point in their lives—one which carries a lot of weight. Professionals often wrap their identities up in these two categories, not knowing there are other options that might better suit their personalities, such as ambivert or omnivert.
You know the stereotypes. Managers and salespeople need to be confident, passionate, and bold extroverts, while IT personnel, copywriters, and administrators should be analytical, organized, and quiet introverts. Jobs for introverts tend to have a lot of social isolation. We feel pressured to fit the mold, when in reality, most people are neither introverts nor extroverts. Someone might be an outgoing introvert or an antisocial extrovert. We don’t always fit into a neat little category. According to Barry Smith, the director of the Laboratories of Human Psychophysiology at the University of Maryland, 68 percent of the population are ambiverts.
Leaders who want their companies to thrive must break out of the introvert and extrovert box. When labeled as either, it produces limiting beliefs about what someone can or can’t do and drastically affects how people interact with each other at work.
- 68 percent of people are considered ambiverts.
- Research shows ambiverts are most likely to succeed in business.
- Discover the difference between ambiverts vs. omniverts.
- Understand how to balance introversion and extroversion.
- Learn how to adopt more personality traits that are similar to ambiverts in social settings.
Omnivert vs. Ambivert: What’s the Difference?
Ambiverts balance introversion and extroversion simultaneously, making them not seem overly introverted or extroverted. However, an omnivert’s behavior is entirely situational, causing them to be either super introverted or extremely extroverted.
Most people have a misconception that introversion and extroversion dictate a person’s social preferences. However, the real sign of an introvert is that they recharge when they are alone. Extroverts, on the other hand, recharge when they are with people.
What Is an Ambivert?
Contrary to popular belief, ambiverted people are not social introverts. Instead, ambiverts balance introversion and extroversion at the same time. Because of this, their personality will appear stable and consistent.
For example, as a leader, an ambivert might command people’s attention during meetings, but they also pause, ask questions, and demonstrate good listening skills.
CEOs and upper-level executives who are ambiverts thrive because they have a more flexible, versatile, and stable leadership style. They know how to meet their team members where they’re at because they have both introverted and extroverted qualities.
An ambivert displays a healthy mix of introversion and extroversion at all times.
What Is an Omnivert?
Omniverts are people who experience extremes in introversion and extraversion. Unlike ambiverts, omniverts have trouble balancing outgoingness and shyness. As a result, they can seem like they have a dual personality depending on the situation they’re in.
For instance, at a work conference, an omnivert could be a rockstar—socializing and making as many business connections as possible. However, at night, they recharge by locking themselves in their hotel room, refusing contact with the team.
These “highs” and “lows” can make this personality type seem erratic and unstable. It can even put them at risk for developing mental health conditions.
An omnivert often swings wildly from introversion to extraversion and back again.
An Ambivert vs. Omnivert in the Workplace
Research conducted by Adam Grant, a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, shows out of all the personality types, ambiverts are the most likely to succeed in the business world, especially when it comes to sales. “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 less vulnerable to appearing too excited or overconfident,” Grant explains.
On the flip side, the study shows the characteristics of those who are not ambiverted—and instead omniverted—would be the least beneficial in business. Based on Grant’s findings, extreme introverts and extroverts were the least successful at generating sales revenue. When it comes to personality types and achieving optimal success in the workplace, the old saying, “Everything in moderation,” seems to apply.
Key Differences Between an Ambivert vs. Omnivert
The Top Signs of Ambiverts
- Balance in the middle of the extrovert/introvert spectrum.
- Lean into each moment, adapting and adjusting to what the situation best calls for.
- Demonstrate emotional stability and level-headedness.
- Think, act, behave, and talk in a consistent way.
The Top Signs of Omniverts
- Make hard shifts between being an extrovert and introvert.
- React as extroverted or introverted based on what they feel others need from them.
- Can act and talk like two different people, depending on what situation they’re in.
- Show no consistency, making others unsure of which side they’ll get.
How to Be More Like an Ambivert if You’re an Omnivert
1. Know Your Triggers
An omnivert’s disposition can change day to day based on external circumstances. For instance, work stress affecting their mental health, added meetings, and too much or too little social interaction can all cause an omnivert to flip from being the life of the party to a recluse. When an omnivert is self-aware about what triggers them, they can stop this behavior before it happens.
To do this:
- Take inventory of yourself: Look for a sign of what triggers you. What event, circumstance, or situation caused you to overswing in one direction? For example, does small talk cause you to engage or withdraw?
- Find coping mechanisms: Create the best solutions for your triggers. For example, don’t pencil six long meetings into one day if you know it drains you. Instead, spread the time you spend with your team across the week.
- Give yourself time to rest and recharge: Whether you’re feeling more introverted or extroverted, everyone needs rest and time to recharge to maintain good health. Be aware of what brings you life. If being alone isn’t it, spend your days off with others. However, if this causes you to feel drained every Monday, spend some time alone doing the things that bring you happiness and peace.
2. Establish Consistent Times to Interact with Your Team
Remote workers might struggle with balancing their introversion and extroversion since they don’t get a lot of face-time with their team. At the core of ambiverts is consistency. To be more consistent, create a routine or schedule where everyone anticipates the interaction. The more regular these interactions are, the less people will be inclined to act in extremes. As a result, everyone will begin to feel comfortable just being their best selves around each other.
3. Practice the Personality Traits You Lack
Make a list of all the leadership qualities introverts and extroverts have. For example, with introverts, you might write down: calculated, calm, methodical, and reflective. With extroverts, you could include: passionate, inspiring, energetic, and bold.
Now, erase the labels.
They don’t matter.
Truthfully, you need all of these qualities. Mastering the art of leadership is a balancing act, meaning you’ll have to learn to be a more flexible yet steady leader regardless of whether or not you’re an introvert or extrovert.
- Selecting five leadership traits that will bring more balance and health to your leadership style.
- Scheduling time into your calendar to grow these qualities each day for the next month. For instance, you can listen to business podcasts, read leadership books, or watch videos from leadership experts like Simon Sinek or John C. Maxwell.
- Rotating out different leadership characteristics every month to make sure you’re growing in multiple ways.
Why Leaders Should Move Toward Becoming Ambiverts
As Karl Moore, a management professor at McGill University advises, “Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, sometimes you have to act like the other type if you’re going to be effective as a leader in today’s rapidly evolving world.”
Good leaders become pros at balancing introversion and extroversion. As ambiverts, they better relate to people and build stronger relationships with others. Furthermore, without this ability, it’s impossible to get people to listen to you and join you in your fight to change the world for the better. Whether it’s through simple actions like making small talk or engaging in deeper conversations, mastering this ability becomes crucial in persuading others.
Think of people like Eleanor Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, Princess Diana, Al Gore, Elon Musk, Barack Obama, Mark Zuckerberg, and Bill Gates. While all of these people have introverted qualities, they also learned to master things like public speaking, campaigning, and effectively leading others from the front lines. It goes to show, strong leaders are flexible and willing to learn how to balance their extroverted and introverted tendencies.
Want to be more flexible in your leadership style? Learn more about Situational Leadership®, next.
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- Pollard, M. (2021, March 13). How Introverts Gain Confidence During Conversations. Retrieved July 9, 2022, from https://hcleadershipessentials.com/blogs/relationships-and-communication/how-introverts-gain-confidence-during-conversations
- Insight State. (2022, November 16). What Is An Ambivert? 15 Signs That You’re One. https://www.insightstate.com/spirituality/ambivert-signs/
- Mas, S. (2023, March 20). Omnivert: Meaning & 4 Signs You Might Be One. The Truly Charming. https://thetrulycharming.com/omnivert/
- Grant, A. (2013). Rethinking the Extraverted Sales Ideal: The Ambivert Advantage. https://faculty.wharton.upenn.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Grant_PsychScience2013.pdf
- Life, W. A. (2021b, April 16). Ep 172. Karl Moore: We Are All Ambiverts —. Retrieved September 7, 2022, from https://www.workandlifepodcast.com/blog/karl-moore-we-are-all-ambiverts
- How Introverts Gain Confidence During Conversations. (2021, March 12). HarperCollins Leadership Essentials. Retrieved September 7, 2022, from https://hcleadershipessentials.com/blogs/relationships-and-communication/how-introverts-gain-confidence-during-conversations
- Gallo, C. (2014, February 7). How Bill Gates Radically Transformed His Public Speaking And Communication Skills. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/carminegallo/2014/02/07/how-bill-gates-radically-transformed-his-public-speaking-and-communication-skills/