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Don't be an Ambivert

I recently took a marketing class as part of my coaching certification continuing education. I have taken literally dozens of marketing classes from experts in the field, and was happily surprised with how much other coaches had to teach me! One of the class instructors had some insightful recommendations and even motivated me to do more public writing (like this post). I write all the time for my clients, but never really considered writing articles or books, but once I started, I was surprised by how much I had to say.

In this class, I was entirely impressed with a guest presenter. She was an experienced and successful coach. It was all going well until she uttered four seemingly innocuous words. “I am an Ambivert.” For me, it was like fingernails on a blackboard. I am a Personality Type fanatic. I have been for two decades. I love everything Type related. Enneagram, DISC, MBTI, Social Styles, Colors, Interaction Styles, Temperament, Cognitive Dynamics, Jung, etc. I am not overly attached to any one theory - except the theory that makes you choose one Type. Maybe it is my background in corporate strategy. Strategy is a choice. If you don’t choose you wind up being HP instead of Apple. Make a choice. I think it is understandable to not know your true Type, but that doesn’t mean you get to hedge. I mistyped myself for a long time. My true self alluded me. It took the help of several experts and wonderful guides to help me understand what my personality looked like on ME. I didn’t change my personality, I had just gotten it wrong. I work very hard with clients to not get it wrong, but it’s easy for one or two Types to seem right for you. But make no mistake. You are not both.

According to Google, an ambivert is “a person whose personality has a balance of extrovert and introvert features.” The only thing more ambiguous than being an ambivert is being an "onmivert". According to Google (and not super helpful) - “Like ambivert, omnivert is a kind of hybrid between introvert and extrovert. An ambivert will fit the surroundings. In a low intensity environment, ambivert will act as introvert, while being in a very stimulating environment they act as extrovert. On the other hand, omnivert will do the opposite.”

Here’s why ambiversion et. al. gets under my skin. We, with our human brains, can do two things. We can take in information and we can make decisions. We can’t do them at the same time. It’s sort of like you can be in love and in hate at the same time. Or as my son recently said to me - you can’t be kind and be yelling at the same time! There is an order to things. When someone says you are an Introvert or an Extravert is is merely to indicate what you do first. Do you Introvert first? Or do you Extravert first. That’s it. By definition, we all do both. Being an ambivert ignores that guiding principal. It’s not ambiversion, but your particular set of cognitive functions used in a very specific way.

This order of things is why there are 16 MBTI types. Your Introversion is only going to look mildly like seven other Introverted Types. We misuse the word Introvert all the time. Introverts share a lot in common, primarily that they do not tell you what they are doing. And when the first thing they do is Introvert (because they are an Introvert) it can look super confusing and also similar to other Introverts. On the other side, Extraverts tell you exactly what they do first. Are they barking orders , overwhelming you with ideas, describing in detail of what is going on around them, or letting you know what the protocol is for how to act at a social event? Careful, your extraversion is showing.

I have been certified in the MBTI and in three related type models including Temperament, Interaction Styles and Cognitive Dynamics. My most recent training emersion has been with Type Guru Linda Berens. Here is how she describes the difference between the information gathering function in an introverted or extraverted direction so you can recognize what kind of information you are using.

Extraverted Sensing, aka Experiencing, keying into the specifics of their immediate experience and the needs of the context.

Introverted Sensing, aka Reviewing, keying into past experiences to see what relates to the topic at hand and what has worked before.

Extraverted iNtuiting, aka Interpreting, keying into patterns and connections outside the context that bring a new look at the topic.

Introverted iNtuiting, aka Foreseeing, keying into holistic solutions and images of the future,

often rich with symbols.

Greater understanding of your own type and the type of you coworkers is important when you are deciding on a sales strategy for your business or when you are leading a large team with conflicting styles.

If you are curious about your Personality Type or the Behavior Styles of your Team, I'd love to set up an assessment and validation process with you. Message me or send me an email at

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