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September 23, 2022 — 11:01 AM
If you’ve ever taken a personality test, you’ve likely been identified as an introvert or an extrovert. Introverts are described as being reserved, quiet, and to themselves, while extroverts are described as loud and sociable. But humans are rarely just one thing.
If you’ve ever felt like you don’t completely fit into the introvert or extrovert boxes, you’re not alone. There is a growing body of research that suggests most of us are actually a combination of introvert and extrovert, creating a spectrum where the majority of us land somewhere in the middle. Consider: the introverted extrovert.
What is an introverted extrovert?
The introverted extrovert is a type of ambivert that’s grounded in the extrovert side of the spectrum but combines personality traits of both an extrovert and introvert. An introverted extrovert is someone who is energized by being around people but can start to become depleted when around people for too long and still will crave alone time to recharge, much like an introvert.
Although personalities start to form in early life, various life experiences can shift your personality. So if you’re an introverted extrovert, you are likely an extrovert at your core that taps into introverted tendencies depending on your environment.
Signs of an introverted extrovert.
Here are a few signs that you might be an introverted extrovert:
Set yourself up for success with a good night’s sleep.*
Introverted extroverts can focus all their extroverted energy at a party, a work event, or a social gathering to connect with other people and then may need deep rest to recharge. Cynthia M.A. Siadat, LCSW, has seen in her practice that introverted extroverts “are friendly and solid conversationalists but seem to disappear from their friends’ radar from time to time.”
2. You like to be around people sometimes and be alone other times.
Context can play a role in bringing out certain parts of the introverted extrovert personality traits. If you are experiencing a challenging time in life, you may be called to spend more time reflecting on your own. If everything is going your way and you feel like you’re thriving, you may feel compelled to share this energy with others. Also consider the other letters in your Myers Briggs-Type Indicator (MBTI) type, such as the S for Sensing or N for Intuition. These point to ways in which you move through your environment.
3. You’re a leader who shies away from the limelight.
In leadership roles, the introverted extrovert can lead teams and work well with others, but when praised for their work, they may deflect and refocus the attention to their team. For example, you may receive an award at work but quickly turn the attention to your team and might sometimes downplay your contribution.
4. You have meaningful conversations in person but don’t answer texts or emails in the same way.
Introverted extroverts tend to have deep conversations giving their friends and family undivided focus and attention when they’re in the same room but are hard to reach over the phone. You may really enjoy someone’s company over dinner but then need to recharge on your own after dinner, disconnected from your phone for a bit.
5. You love to help others but have difficulty accepting help for yourself.
Siadat says her clients who are introverted extroverts show others a ton of care but experience difficulty when receiving the same attention. This can look like offering help to those in need but rejecting help from others.
Introverted extrovert vs. extroverted introvert.
Introverted extrovert sounds similar to extroverted introvert, but there is a key difference.
Siadat explains that an introverted extrovert is a person who:
- At baseline is sociable
- Experiences the occasional need to recharge by themselves
The extroverted introvert, on the other hand:
- At baseline is drawn to solo time
- On occasion craves social interactions with others
The key is your internal experience as a core extrovert or a core introvert. This is rarely noticeable by others, which is more reason to connect more deeply to yourself.
Introverted extrovert vs. ambivert.
Whether you identify as an introverted extrovert or an extroverted introvert, you’re by definition, an ambivert. The word “ambivert” contains the Latin prefix ambi which means “on both sides.” So a person who is an ambivert can switch into their introvert or extrovert tendencies to navigate the situations they’re in.
“Almost all of us are ambiverts to some degree,” psychotherapist Ken Page, LCSW, previously told mbg. Having the ability to tap into both sides of the spectrum is beneficial and can lead to a deeper sense of self-knowledge. “It’s a gift to have this balance,” Page says, “but that makes it all the more important to be connected to our feelings and what actually feels good for us in the moment.”
How to thrive as an introverted extrovert:
1. Accept your complexity.
When the concepts of introversion and extroversion were first introduced by psychologist Carl Jung in the 1920s, he used them to refer to how people consistently respond to their environment. At the time, Jung argued that the extrovert personality was more favorable, which has stuck around in our popular culture.
But there is no reason to shy away from being any shade of introvert. A 2017 paper published in the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences emphasizes that personality traits do not measure your social capacities and instead point to how a person needs to recharge and re-energize. If you’re out enjoying yourself at your friend’s birthday party surrounded by a hundred people and then you start feeling drained, try not to feel guilty. It’s just a sign that your introversion needs some attention. Your body might be telling you it’s time to go home and rest.
2. Learn your responses to different environments.
The oscillation between introvert and extrovert energy can appear extreme to people on the outside, so it’s important for you to stay aligned with your needs as an introverted extrovert. A good learning experiment is to immerse yourself in various settings and get really good at determining what brings you energy and why. Does your partner coax out your goofy extroversion? Does your meditation class recharge you with silence? Getting to know how you respond to specific settings will help you learn about yourself on a deeper level.
3. Find work that utilizes both skill sets as an introvert and an extrovert.
A big plus of being an introverted extrovert is that you are able to relate to more people. Because of this, more of the world can open up to you. A 2013 study by organizational psychologist Adam Grant, Ph.D., highlights the benefits of being an ambivert like an introverted extrovert. Since you tap into both kinds of personalities, you are able to connect to more people. Grant studied salespeople who identified as ambiverts and found “they naturally engage in a flexible pattern of talking and listening.” For example, “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.” Finding work that utilizes your introverted extrovert strengths will benefit everyone involved.
4. Be flexible with yourself.
Personality traits can change over a lifetime. “You’ll want to be careful to avoid comparing yourself to others or former versions of yourself,” Siadat notes. “Common phrases you might hear are ‘Well, I used to be SO social.’ While that may have been true before, you are a completely different person today than you were last year with new information and experiences.”
Change is uncomfortable, and recognizing this can bring up some resistance. But staying present and connecting with yourself as you are today can help you navigate your life more authentically.
5. Practice communicating your needs.
Introversion and extroversion are personality traits that indicate how you need to recharge your energy. Being able to identify and communicate what you need to maintain your equilibrium will help you and those around you. “People who [are] introverted also need to be very much aware of protecting themselves against overstimulation and burnout,” Page says.
6. Identify who gives you energy.
Whether it is in person or virtually, some people are more compatible with your energy needs. Once you become aware of your energy levels, you may notice that some people deplete your energy while others reinvigorate your energy. “Loved ones come in all shapes and sizes with varying levels of emotional safety,” says Siadat. “Just because you love them or they love you doesn’t determine whether they have access to you or not.” As an introverted extrovert, be mindful of who you spend your energy with.
7. You are the expert on you.
Since the core of who you are is based on your internal experience, you are the expert of you. You can research and learn from experts in psychology and behavioral science, but you are the only person who knows what’s right for you and your internal world.
Various personality tests can help point you in the right direction, but ultimately it’s up to you to take time to learn about all the things that make you unmistakably you. You might find that the flexibility of being an introverted extrovert is freeing. You can empathize with a broader spectrum of perspectives, making connections with people who are both introverted and extroverted. You might also find being an introverted extrovert can be confusing at times. But like with all self-learning, allow your life to speak to you and respond with your best tools.