I’m an extrovert. Well so I’ve been told and always believed. I married an introvert and after 25 years I am happy to report we’re still very much in love. When I compare my personality to her I’ve always believed I am an extrovert. I have no problem talking in front of people, be the loud one at a party, etc. I believed my energy came from being with people. All signs of being that extrovert right?
As a result I tried to force myself into the mold being extroverted. The definition of an extrovert says I should basically be bored when by myself, and take energy from being with people. I never felt this was really true though as I felt very drained after spending a day at a conference.
Recently I read Daniel Pink’s book “To sell is human”. I discovered I’m actually neither an extrovert or introvert. Recent research has shown I actually fall into a new classification called “Ambivert”. Basically as I understand it I fall somewhere between the two extremes. Once I read about this and researched it a little more I’m actually very excited now!
As a direct result of this new knowledge I have changed my strategies around participating in conferences. I now build in strategic times to withdraw and recharge my batteries. Even if it’s just going for a short walk to be alone with my thoughts. I also no longer feel guilty by withdrawing to the privacy of my hotel room in the evenings. I find it means I’m going to the conference the next day with more energy!
There is no right or wrong in what type of personality you have. Our culture certainly seems to think extroverts are the leaders and smart ones. I’d encourage you to read Daniel Simon’s book “The invisible gorilla” where he addresses this. The book talks about human nature, including the illusion of confidence. The illusion of confidence is where we think those who speak first are confident in their answers. It’s true they are confident, but that doesn’t mean they’re right.
It’s important to know where you sit on the introvert/ambivert/extrovert scale. There’s many assessments out there to help you understand this. If you understand yourself it’s certainly a lot easier to manage your time and interactions with the people around you. I find withdrawing to recharge myself means my interactions with people are far more valuable. It’s when the extroverted nature of me starts showing itself the most.
If you don’t know who you are check out Daniel Pink’s assessment at www.danpink.com/assessment and find out today. I would also strongly recommend reading his book “To sell is human”. Don’t worry … it’s not a extroverted book about selling … definitely worth the read regardless of what you do.
Interesting blog post Mike! As I continue down new paths in life, I’m learning that adapting to something that will work better for you is crucial in success. I will check out your links and books mentioned.