Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

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Myth-Busting—The Real Difference Between Introverts & Extroverts & Meet the Ambivert

Actual photo of Kristen in high school (Image via Flikr Creative Commons wwarby)
Actual photo of Kristen in high school (Image via Flikr Creative Commons wwarby)

I made it home on Monday afternoon from presenting at the Tuscon Book Festival, one of the largest book festivals in the world. To meet me at the conference, one would never suspect I’m actually an introvert. Yet, even after two days of sleep, I’m shaking from fatigue. This morning I had to get Hubby to bring The Spawn to school because I simply don’t have enough energy to be safe on the road. I spent all of it at the conference giving (what I hoped) were unforgettable presentations.

Many believe the extrovert is the ideal speaker, yet introverts have a way of channeling energy from themselves to others. When people leave my sessions, they often feel supercharged, like they can take over the world. I love that. It’s what I’m going for…but this comes at a cost for me. I must unplug, get quiet and recharge. Crowds drain me faster than a toddler using an iPad.

BIG crowds? As in a quarter-million people? AHHHHHHHH!

As humans we tend to think in very black and white terms, but as writers and artists, we are wise to remember that people have many dimensions. What we see is not necessarily accurate, especially when it comes to labeling others as “introvert” or “extrovert.”

What Does It REALLY Mean to Be an Extrovert or Introvert?

Introversion and extroversion are very  commonly misunderstood. Just because someone is shy, doesn’t mean she’s an introvert. Someone who is bubbly, gregarious and the life of the party can, in reality, be an introvert. The difference between introverts and extroverts is simply this:

Where do we gain or lose energy?

Introverts are drained by people and need alone time to recharge.

Extroverts are drained by too much time alone. They need human interaction to recharge.

Meet the Ambivert

Truth is, most people fall into what is called an ambivert, meaning we exhibit traits of both. If you want to learn if you might be an ambivert, there are cool tests on-line. I’d google them for you, but this post is all I’ve got left.

People who read this blog and who meet me all believe that I am the very definition of extrovert, yet that’s far from the case. As a child, I had to be forced to go play with others. I was very happy alone in my room reading, drawing and copying articles out of my set of encyclopedias.

I was frequently chastised for bringing a book to family events and made to interact with others. Yet, when I did, I was the life of the party. I was fascinated by standup comedy and, being blessed with an eidetic memory, I could perform the standup routines of all the famous comics, down to facial expressions, timing and gestures. My family was particularly fond of my freakishly accurate impersonation of Sinbad.

Yes, Kristen was the precursor to the DVD.

In school, I didn’t want to play at recess. I wanted to read and draw unicorns.  But I loved debate and speaking in public. When it came to presenting, I had no fear and, again, I was funny. Being funny helped when you changed schools every six months. BUT, in high school I was shy to the point of probably needing medication. The stage was far less terrifying than the lunchroom.

Before I was married, I would go shopping at two in the morning, because I couldn’t take the crowds. To this day, I don’t like concerts, amusement parks, crowded clubs, conventions, big parties or sports events. I love attending writing conferences because I love writers, love teaching and presenting and I DO love people…but when I get home, I practically slip into a coma. Also, I am okay on a stage presenting to an audience but please don’t make me be a part of a crowd.

As much as I LOVE people, as much as I adore people and making them laugh…they exhaust me.

I work from home and, if I never had to leave, I would be okay…so long as I had Internet connection. One of the things I love about social media, is it allows me to interact, connect, chat, entertain…but at my pace. It keeps me from flatlining myself.

I’ve had to learn from bad experiences that I need to pace myself at conferences if I want to maintain that powerful, positive energy.

The Myth of the Extrovert

There is another common misunderstanding about the whole extrovert thing, and it’s done a LOT of damage in the corporate world (and when it comes to author platforms for selling books).

Companies spend all this time shoving introverts into being extroverts. They hire mega-extroverts for sales, and yet mega-extroverts are some of the WORST salespeople. I witnessed this back when I was in sales, myself.

I recall sitting at a table with a customer and a mega-extrovert salesperson. The mega-extrovert was so busy talking and being entertaining, that he never SHUT UP long enough to listen. He didn’t stop and ask the right questions. In fact, he didn’t ask ANY questions.

That’s a problem.

One time, I was at an annual marketing meeting and the company was putting  together the agenda for the next year. They kept going on and on about price, and how we needed to be cheaper. I was brand new, but bold.

I raised my hand and asked, “Has anyone asked our customers if this is what THEY want? Is price the biggest factor?” The table sat in stunned silence. Then I recommended we brainstorm twenty areas where we could serve the customer better and then get them to take the survey.

Price came in at #4.

Customers actually wanted faster lead times. Our product was the type of inventory the customers never thought about…until they ran out. A better plan was to rent cheap warehouses in the areas near our major clients and stock them with the most common sizes ordered. Then we could have offered same-day or next-day delivery….which the company refused to do and still focused on price and lost a crap-load of business and it’s a sore subject with me.

Why did they do this? The mega-extroverted marketing and salespeople controlled the agenda, and they were lousy listeners.

We All Have Strengths and Weaknesses

This isn’t to pick on mega-extroverts. All personalities have strengths and weaknesses. As an ambivert, I do have some mega-extrovert tendencies. I’ve had to TRAIN myself to be a better listener and to ask others about themselves…instead of making them laugh with my Sinbad impersonations.

Awareness is Key

The point of all of this is we need to be self-aware so we can focus on strengths and buttress weaknesses. It is good for the introverts to get out. Too much alone time with the imaginary friends makes us a bit weird…ok, weirder.

Social media can be very beneficial for introverts. It forces us out of the comfort zone and we can interact at a pace that doesn’t put us in a coma. Extroverts get to practice willpower and self-discipline, to shut up, get off Twitter and get back to work.

Ambiverts? We get to do both *head desk*

No Excuses

But the good news is this. This notion that mega-extroverted salesperson is the most effective salesperson? PURE MYTH. This is one major misconception that TERRIFIES most writers into being afraid of social media or makes some writers try to change their personalities….which is just weird and kinda creepy. Be YOU. YOU is awesome :D.

Don’t drink the Kool-Aid.

Here’s an article that displaces the myth that mega-extroverts are the best salespeople, and explains why it’s actually ambiverts who hold the advantage.

Talk to people, listen, ask questions, and let them talk. Be authentic and kind. We don’t have to be super entertaining all the time. Really ;).

For those curious, THIS was my family’s favorite among my vast comedic repertoire:

So what about you? Are you and extrovert? An introvert? Shy? Do you feel misunderstood because you’re a shy extrovert or a people-loving introvert? Do you think you might be an ambivert?

I LOVE hearing from you guys!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of March, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less)

For a LONG-TERM plan for a fit, healthy platform, please check out my latest book Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World

119 thoughts on “Myth-Busting—The Real Difference Between Introverts & Extroverts & Meet the Ambivert”

  1. Aaron DavisAaron Davis

    Great perspective. I’ve always counted myself more introvert but you did a great job graying the line between introvert and extroverts. Very interesting.

  2. CKoeppCKoepp

    Most excellent. On the tests, I usually redline the introvert side, and yet I can teach complex topics to a group of people and be very dynamic while doing it. Then… I need to go hide. Really. Leave me alone. Or else.

  3. Daven AndersonDaven Anderson

    Mega-extrovertism=Lack of confidence in oneself, and lack of listening to others.
    And top-level blogging skills are not indicative of how a blogger interacts in person, because blogging is a social media (non face-to-face) interaction, where the social clumsiness experienced in live encounters is not a factor.

    • Author Kristen LambAuthor Kristen Lamb

      We have time to think before inserting foot in mouth, LOL. And I don’t know if I would pick on mega-extroverts, because it doesn’t have to do with social skills. Also a mega-shy-introvert suffers with the same issues (not listening and instead thinking too much what other people are thinking). I believe ALL of us can learn to be better listeners and we all struggle with self-confidence. It’s never a static thing.

      • Daven AndersonDaven Anderson

        Good point about the mega-introvert. Hadn’t considered that. Of course, many mega-extroverts turn on the “charm” (aka their finely-honed skills in social situations that allow them to dodge foot-in-mouth disease), and their cunning does not equal caring. I’m envisioning Caesar Flickerman in “The Hunger Games” as the embodiment of the mega-extrovert archetype.

  4. Cindy HidayCindy Hiday

    It came as no surprise to learn I’m an ambivert. As I read your description of yourself, I kept nodding, “Yep, me too.” 🙂

  5. Amy KeeleyAmy Keeley

    I really love how you pointed out that introvert/extrovert depends on where you draw your energy. In college, I thought I was an extrovert because I was involved in so many things. Nope. And I wondered why I was so stressed. Then I found out what being an introvert truly is, and ever since then I’ve been able to handle stress much better. So, thank you for this post.

  6. jrosebooksjrosebooks

    Just that first picture was worth it. Hahaahaha!!! I needed a good laugh this morning. Thank you.

  7. Traci KenworthTraci Kenworth

    This gives me hope!! I always thought extroverts the better at selling their books, being in front of people. To someone as shy as me, this is a blessing to hear,

  8. Yvonne HertzbergerYvonne Hertzberger

    On the Meyers-Briggs I am an introvert but close to the middle of the scale. I suppose that makes me and ambivert, too. Like you, I hate crowds but love a good discussion or debate. I hate parties and usually choose one person to converse with so i don’t sit out looking like a wall-flower. I love to sing and have acted on stage, but I also need alone time and my favourite thing to do is to spend time alone reading, or with my hubby. The thing to remember is that none of us are totally one or the other, we all have parts that fit into either camp. And we need to remember that shyness is not the same as introversion. Extroverts can be shy and introverts need not be.

    • Author Kristen LambAuthor Kristen Lamb

      I never understood how I could score dead-even as an INFP and ENFP. I am an NFP OFF THE CHARTS, but when it came to Introversion versus Extroversion, always a dead split.

  9. Sarah BrentynSarah Brentyn

    I’m a total introvert yet…ex-bartender, teacher, leader of writing workshops. Hmm. I’m not “shy”. (Well, maybe a little.)

    I never thought of social media this way: introverts can choose their timing unlike on-the-spot conversations at a party which completely drain me.

  10. Gail KushnerGail Kushner

    Hi Kristen. I was one of the folks in the audience at your last Tucson Festival presentation. You did a great job of getting people fired up about social media. And, Piper seemed like the perfect counterpoint to your out-going energy. Yes, I would have guessed you were an extrovert.

    Thanks for coming to Tucson. We have an amazing, free, Festival of Books. 🙂

  11. Anne Denise DupontAnne Denise Dupont

    I think I’m actually more introverted online than I am in person. However, I will say that public speaking would drain me way worse than just being in a crowd of people. I like concerts, clubs, and the like and seem to draw energy from them, but when I have to be the focus of attention, no way jose! One of the most draining experiences I have ever had was a critique group (reading out loud in front of a group). I had an anxiety hangover for 2 days after that.

  12. Jodie DavisJodie Davis

    Ah, there’s a word for it!
    I live two lives; always thought it was because I’m a Gemini. Now I have a name for it.
    Professionally, I host TV shows, present on HSN…
    At home I live alone on my fabulous farm — in silence. No TV even. Like you Kristen, all I need is my internet connection. You have to very quiet to hear what horses are saying you know.
    I hate leaving for a trip, tearing up as I drive out past the pasture. But as soon as I get close to the airport and those jets fly over my truck, woo-hoo let’s go!
    I get drained, especially when its not on-camera but face-to-face, as in teaching or trade shows. I get home and crash. It’s physical, mentally, and emotional. The best medicine is my face buried in a kitty fur suit or two, then a mane or two, then on to pitch forking manure.
    And yes, as a kid I too was painfully shy.
    Another excellent and helpful post. Thank you Kristen!

  13. Helen LandalfHelen Landalf

    This post really struck a chord with me. I’m a mostly-introvert (an ambivert, according to the test) who makes her living as a teacher, which requires nonstop interaction with people. At the end of the day, I’m so fried I just want to shut myself in a sensory deprivation tank.

  14. Jennifer KJennifer K

    This is an interesting perspective. I used to be so shy I bordered on social anxiety. I have come out of my shell over the years – I feel more confident, I’m able to make small talk with strangers and can be downright outgoing in groups I feel comfortable with but I feel out of place in crowds and at parties. I still consider myself an introvert!

  15. Cate Pane: The Clear ParentCate Pane: The Clear Parent

    I love your post! I wrote about “ambiverts” some time ago. I am so surprised that this has been lost in the discussion of introverts and extroverts. I guess we prefer black and white over gray! Thank you for contributing to the awareness of this very important category that many of us belong to!

  16. Kit DunsmoreKit Dunsmore

    I was so relieved when I learned the definitions of extrovert and introvert because it explained me so well. No question I’m an introvert — people drain me and I recharge by being alone or with one special person. I can perform for a crowd; I taught English as a second language while living in Germany and I did it well, but at a great personal cost. I think of having to ramp myself up for public speaking, and I know it takes a toll on my energy levels. I was president of my quilt guild one year and was “on-stage” once a month, and losing 2-3 days afterwards recovering. Now I’m writing articles for our newsletter, a much better fit.

    Thanks for the reminder about listening. We all need to listen. And to recognize that our view of the world may be incorrect, especially when it comes to trying to mind-read others.

    Hope you get your energy back soon!

  17. mandisamparnellmandisamparnell

    Yet another winning piece, Ms. Lamb! I’ve always felt that I was an introverted-extrovert and I am glad to find out that persons who possess characteristics of both realms are now being labelled as “AMBIVERTS”! So, if it walks like a duck…EUREKA!

    I’ve always been fiercely private yet I am an open-book. I am extremely passionate. I don’t have a lot of FRIENDS but I have many acquaintances. I love to shut myself away from the world reading, drawing, writing and, as a child, I too was forced by my mother to go out and interact with others. But, again – like you, once I ventured out I would become the proverbial life of the party. People like having me around – some say with me, there’s never a dull moment. I am witty; I never back from a good debate; I love telling jokes and anything else to uplift someone who’s having a bad day. Back in school, I was something of a “teacher’s pet” yet my class mates loved me. I was usually the first to raise my hand to answer a question or get a discussion going. I HATE crowds but I enjoy attending concerts and sporting events so I am usually in the Jamaica National Stadium to watch Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell, Shelly-ann Fraser-Pryce and Yohan “The Beast” Blake run. Incidentally, I usually end up going to these meets by myself (my friends just can’t bother; they’d rather watch on TV) but before the first race gets underway, I am usually the best friend of everyone sitting in my row, the row behind and the row in front. LOL! i enjoy people. Love kids. Love to teach. We sound too similar, I think. But, I think I flourish the most when I am on my own. So, i enjoy the time I get to spend alone IMMENSELY (with my pets, of course) even moreso now that I no longer abide under my mother’s roof! LOL!

    But, I could go on and on…I will be taking that test and posting this on my own blog for my followers to read and tell me which they are.

    Thanks again! One love!

  18. coasttocoastwithacatandaghostcoasttocoastwithacatandaghost

    This is your look-a-like Aunt Donna. I never labeled my joy of secluson. I am camped in Quartzite, Az. right now recooping from the festival. I am in the middle of the desert on BLM land and the nearest RV is camped a block away.

    I loved your presentation and I couldn’t help but relate. I do seminars as well and people think I’m an extrovert too, because, like you, I put everything I have into it. I am ready to throw up before, and charged so high you’d think I was snorting something after. I love it but it is so draining.
    I have blogged about you and your book. Happy ambiverting. It was great meeting you and Piper..

  19. Jon Rieley-GoddardJon Rieley-Goddard

    Beautiful blog post.
    I am an introvert and a minister, which sounds funny,. unless you know that we spend at least half of our time in solitary study in empty churches. Preaching is a joy — partly because I am in control, which is heaven for an introvert. I can play a role with a lot of energy and no fear. The bigger the crowd the better. Not the same story when i feel the need to make small talk at the bank or grocery store.
    Blessings and peace.

  20. Pauline Baird JonesPauline Baird Jones

    Total introvert here. Crowds exhaust me, too. Didn’t realize it for a long time, but thankfully now I know and can adjust, take time outs when at conferences and conventions.

  21. mandisamparnellmandisamparnell

    P.S. I just took the test. Yes, I AM an AMBIVERT!!! WOOO-HOOOO!!!

  22. Mira PrabhuMira Prabhu

    Hi Kristen — interesting post! I took the test and emerged as an extravert, but really I think I’m an ambivert. I can spend 90% of my day alone, writing, reading, meditating, yoga-ing (ha), etc — but for a short while at least, I like to be out in the world. I feel very uncomfortable in large crowds and love one-on-one relationships/situations best of all. I empathize with how you describe yourself — i would get so lost in a book when i was a child that the house could have been on fire and I wouldn’t have known….thanks!

  23. tucsonmiketucsonmike

    Best definition of Extrovert vs. Introvert, I have ever seen. Good seeing you.

  24. tucsonmiketucsonmike

    Reblogged this on I am an Author, I Must Auth and commented:
    Best description I have seen of Extrovert vs. Introvert. I was happy to see Kristen at the Tucson Festival of Books.

  25. Stephanie ScottStephanie Scott

    I haven’t heard the term ambivert before but I know for a fact I fit it! Every time I take the Meyers Briggs test I am almost evenly matched between I and E. I work at home several days a week but appreciate the days I go in for some social interaction; I like the mix.

  26. Stephanie BergetStephanie Berget

    Very interesting article. Most people who know me would thing I’m an extrovert, but I’m happiest at home. Now I’m off to take the test for Ambivert.

  27. swiveltamswiveltam

    Hmmm, hadn’t heard of ambivert, but I don’t like crowds, amusement parks and concerts, but I love public speaking and acting. Whoa! Revelation. Thanks.

  28. ltownsdinltownsdin

    I’ve read lots on the intro-extro subject, and I think you’ve nailed it. Thanks for posting!

  29. brianna555brianna555

    I think the thing mega-extrovert salesman don’t realize is that not everyone ENJOYS being coerced and shmoozed. Sure extroverts would probably have fun with it but introverts? No. We will get out of there by any means..even through vent ducts. 😀

    Love,
    a fellow NFP

  30. Joanna AislinnJoanna Aislinn

    I figured I fit the bill of the ambivert, but assumed I knew the definitions of introvert and extrovert. I know I made a conscious choice, many moons ago, to pull out of my shyness. I still need the introverted ways you discussed–that ME time–to recharge too, but I do love being around people (preferably as a presenter). The crowd doesn’t, necessarily bother me; it’s the related audio and visual chaos that can result that does me in; I have to work too hard to tune it out when I can’t get away from it, I.e., a store with blaring music, bright lights, etc.

    Great post, Kristen! Thanks!

  31. Mr. ValentineMr. Valentine

    It was great to meet you briefly at the Tucson Festival and yes, you left your audience charged up and raring to go. This post is spot on for me personally, too. In addition to the festival, I played 2 concerts that weekend, with massive oboe solos in the Bizet symphony–and by Sunday night I crawled into my office and shut the world away, and scarcely came out on Monday, either. LOL.

    Ed (the guy who helped watch your suitcase the first morning)

    • Author Kristen LambAuthor Kristen Lamb

      I remember you! Oboe. I love oboe! I think a lot of performers fit into this gray area. I wonder if it’s why so many performers have substance abuse issues or have to be hospitalized for “exhaustion.”

  32. ontyrepassagesontyrepassages

    Yeah, I’m a hybrid, which sounds like it has sci-fi connotations. If I feel comfortable I do well interacting in small groups or one-on-one. Even so, it’s draining. Large groups suck the energy from my body so quick I’d swear I can see it happening. Public presentations were my worst nightmare for most of my life, but I have overcome that to a degree.

  33. geralynwichersgeralynwichers

    I am both an introvert and a salesperson, so I appreciate this 🙂

  34. Mary GottschalkMary Gottschalk

    Kristen … I loved this … describes my experience to a “T” … but also highlights the contrast/conflict between the two primary characters in my novel. Would you consider adapting this a bit and doing it as a guest blog on my website? If not, would you be willing to let me use part of it if I give you and your blog full credit?

  35. Janna G. NoelleJanna G. Noelle

    When I took the MBTI, the instructor stressed over and over again that we all have a natural inclination towards introversion or extroversion (and all the other parameters), but that doesn’t give us permission to not push ourselves to do things outside our natural inclination. Anyone can do and be anything if truly required. MBTI types aren’t meant to an excuse to say “I can’t”.

  36. TomTom

    Solidly introverted, and fortunately so is my wife! Thanks for the typically wonderful post!

  37. DebDeb

    Interesting…I do think it’s ambivert for me as well. Although I can exhibit many introverted tendancies, my mom always said I “never met an audience I didn’t like”!

  38. Sherry Jarrett AustinSherry Jarrett Austin

    I’ve always thought of myself as an introvert and just discovered that I’m an ambivert who feels like throwing up every time I have to speak in front of a group but enjoys interacting with people in a social setting. My writing partner and I thoroughly enjoyed all three of your presentations at the Tucson Festival of Books. (I was the stalker-ish woman 🙂 sitting next to the tall guy.) It was like having a mini, in-person WANACon. Yes, we left your sessions supercharged, and I would guess most people did, so you really deserve some time to recharge your inner introvert—hope you get some pampering too, because you deserve it. Thanks so much for sharing yourself and your knowledge with others!

  39. Maryann Miller (@maryannwrites)Maryann Miller (@maryannwrites)

    Thanks for the reminder that we are all a bit of both when it comes to being introverted or extroverted. And I loved your comment “the lunchroom isn’t the stage.” I am normally quiet and reserved in groups, yet I can get on stage and put it all out there for the character. But then that is really not me, it’s the character.

  40. mariecreativitymariecreativity

    This is terrific! 🙂 I am definitely an introvert, although just like most people, I have one or two faint traits of an extrovert. Great perspective though – I constantly have to remind myself that there are those out there that are NOT like me. 🙂

  41. Alison J. McKenzieAlison J. McKenzie

    This is a great post. Something of a relief to read, actually. I’d never heard the term “ambivert” and couldn’t really classify myself. I have trouble with crowds and have to strap all my armor on for every convention I attend. I don’t do well speaking up in a group of people, but I can chat with a new person one-on-one easily.
    Do you have any convention-specific advice? I find it’s pretty easy for myself to simply avoid large crowds, but writing conventions are important to me, though every time is a chore. I know you just posted a huge post on the general subject, so if you don’t want to spend time elaborating, I don’t blame you. I figured I’d ask, though. Are there any tips or tricks that find helps you get through the day?

    • Author Kristen LambAuthor Kristen Lamb

      I do a lot of mental and spiritual preparing a head of time. I KNOW I am going to put out a lot of energy, so I guard it at all times. This might mean staying quiet on the couch watching the “Wives with Knives” marathon the day before, pacing myself during (maybe staying in from dinner with others) and then RESTING afterward. Appreciate your energy levels and guard then vigilantly. Sometimes I will go back to my room for an hour during the conference. Just get quiet and recharge.

  42. shad0wrav3n2014shad0wrav3n2014

    I’m an introvert. I get drained by people so far to the point where if i do not get alone time to recharge i become abrasive and moody in social situations and go from being a very charismatic and friendly person to a royal BEEP! I also really like people and have a lot of patience for them, i’m the type that tried to see the good in everyone but am smart enough to know, from being stabbed repeatedly in the back, that people can be conniving and brutal but ultimately I try to give everyone a chance at least one.

    This sucks extremely bad as my day job kills me since I’m a cashier…at WALMART! We HAVE to be very extroverted with our customers and frankly it drains the life out of me by the end of the day especially if we are hyper busy. I never wanted to be a cashier but I need to afford my writing some how. Its one of the biggest hurdles i have in my fledgling career right now. Trying to keep a job that i actually WANT to go to daily and still have the stamina to write.

    I much like you was FORCED into being sociable by my parents but it gave me quite a few people skills that have helped me in conventions and other such social meets as a writer that i would have been severely lacking otherwise so i don’t really regret that, but I think my arts and writing suffered some from being forced to play with the other kids rather than draw my pretty ponies! xp

    Though seriously I have made some really great friends from being forced into some social situations so its not entirely bad. I am hoping as time progresses at Walmart i can switch to a less-social position so i can reserve this energy i’m expending on people for my writing. As always great post deserving of a reblog.

  43. nikkiharveynikkiharvey

    Have you ever noticed that a lot of people with addictions are introverts? I think it is because of the pressure that society puts on people to be extroverts, and substances such as alcohol sometimes seem to help people feel more confident in social situations… Until they begin to rely substances for confidence and fall into addiction.

    • Author Kristen LambAuthor Kristen Lamb

      I think you see it on both sides. You also see extroverts being forced to sit eight hours and never talk or socialize and park at a computer in front of Excel (which is the third level of HELL, btw). I think any of us staying too long out of what fits grows into a noose. Sure, introverts need to get out and extroverts should have alone time, but to what degree? When we understand what we need we make better decisions overall.

  44. sharonhollysharonholly

    I’ve started reading “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain. I have a post to finish on the subject, somewhere in that black hole,called Drafts.

    I’m on the extreme end of the introvert scale, which makes it difficult to function some days. Also, I think it’s understandable that people often mistake introversion for shyness/being withdrawn, because some days I’m not even sure which one is motivating me. Am I avoiding people simply because, as an introvert, it’s draining to be around people, or is it so draining being around people because being shy & awkward is stressful….

    Either way, I’m slowly beginning to accept that it’s just me. For a long time I felt like it meant that there’s something wrong with me; that I should WANT to be a super social person and go to parties and meet new people. But it’s not my idea of fun. And that’s okay.

    I do realize that I have to put in some effort to find a balance though. And that’s challenging!

    • Author Kristen LambAuthor Kristen Lamb

      Sharon, social media has SAVED me. I tend to have a time-delay on the “Inside words stay inside” and I have the power of BACKSPACE, LOL. I used to have horrific social anxiety and the on-line world has eased me into being comfortable being me *shrugs*. But shyness and social anxiety aren’t the same as introversion and extroversion and the world doesn’t appreciate that. We shove introverts into group projects or extroverts into a cube farm where they’re discouraged from milling with other people. Then we can’t figure out why everyone needs to be MEDICATED.

      We all have to strive for balance, but we have to be authentic first or we have no clue WHAT we are balancing.

  45. Kelly RobertsKelly Roberts

    I was just thinking about this subject a few days ago. I’ve been very confused about where I fall on this continuum. I am glowing when I’m one-on-one with someone or giving presentations (I’m just enough of a ham and like to be the center of attention to enjoy it). These are my shining moments. So I always thought I was an extrovert.

    But like you said, Kristen, get me in a group of people and I feel like I’m drowning but am too uncomfortable to ask anyone for a life preserver. Crowds drain me (although I loved our two trips to Disney World–WTF??). But I also long for alone time. I guess I’m a mutt, I mean an ambivert! And proud of it!

  46. Andrea BlytheAndrea Blythe

    Great post and interesting. I’ve tended to describe myself as an introvert, but now I think I’m definitely an ambivert (a term I’ve never heard before, but seems to be useful. ).

  47. Maggi AndersenMaggi Andersen

    I guess I’m a classic introvert. I prefer a quiet time with one person I know, than a group. Crowds drain me whereas being alone refuels my energy. I curl up in horror at the thought of public speaking.

  48. mesridhimesridhi

    I totally loved your article Kristen. I think I’ll always prefer reading your articles late (works like alarm bells.. 😀
    Even I love people and socializing but then I am not one of those people who party hard or stay constantly in touch through texting or calls etc. My idea of “being in touch” is far different from others. Your blog , in fact feels so much more homely than the world outside. Anyway, I think I am an ambivert or… ermm.. i don’t know but all i know is I love myself on stage. I felt it to be so much me all over the article. It is actually something I would love to stop by and reread for a boost up.Love you for such uninhibited explosion of private ideas. XOXO

  49. CrowhillCrowhill

    Good article, but as a general rule I dislike categorizing people. While a person certainly has some personality traits that stick with them, people act differently at different times, in different places, with different people.

    I took part in one of those management meetings where some expert asked us a bunch of silly questions, had us play a few games, etc., and then based on some sort of score / assessment put us in four groups that were supposed to represent our personalities.

    People in my group were supposed to have a hard time relating to people in this other group, the expert said. Too bad some of the people in that other group were some of my best friends in the office and we worked together very well.

    The thing is, these sorts of surveys ask you questions like “would you prefer to work alone or in a group?” I might have a preference, but I’m able to do either. I can adapt. I’m a grown-up and I can behave in the situation I find myself in. I can lead, I can follow, and I can get out of the way.

    So when people start the whole “personality type” discussion I usually leave the room. But not always. I am replying to your post, after all. 🙂

    • Author Kristen LambAuthor Kristen Lamb

      I’m not a fan of being too strict with categorizing, but some of those tests have REALLY helped me. For instance, I am off the charts on intuition. I make a lot of decisions based off my gut. But, my mom NEEDS a bar chart. We used to have so much trouble communicating because I wanted her to understand ideas or decisions the way I did. When I learned it was easier for her to internalize with a bullet point list or facts and figures, I stopped trying to make her be me.

      And I completely agree. Some groups I work great in (depends on the group and the project). Other times I am a loner. But understanding my strengths and weaknesses helped me search for people strong in areas I wasn’t. If you are a person who has a hard time making fast decisions, a good partner would be someone who doesn’t over think things, etc. I believe this is why so many writers are married to “engineer” personalities, LOL.

      Thanks for the comment! 😀

  50. saralitchfieldsaralitchfield

    It’s so weird to actually take a step back and really think about the give and take of energy in all our interactions. I definitely feel drained and this highlights my need to recharge, thank you.

  51. S StullS Stull

    Super-shy introvert here! I get tired just blogging and responding to comments. I typically don’t do crowds – and to me, more than four is a crowd. Loved this post!

  52. Linda Maye Adams, Soldier, StorytellerLinda Maye Adams, Soldier, Storyteller

    I kind of suspect ambiverts was created because introvert often has a bad reputation. I was just watching a Criminal Minds episodes where introverts were made to look like there was something psychologically wrong with them and turned into serial killers. And I certainly remember being dinged repeatedly in school because I didn’t participate verbally enough — though I was listening and paying attention.

    I think some of the things that look like extroverts and more of introverts controlling the flow of energy. It’s one thing to volunteer for a speech and then afterwards go up to a hotel room to get away from the crowds for a few hours versus being directed to go to a party where you have to stay for a set time no matter what (a problem I had with the army).

    • Author Kristen LambAuthor Kristen Lamb

      Possibly. I don’t like the demonization of Introverts, but I also think we are humans and so hard to neatly categorize. We are all different hues of color like no two gemstones are alike.

  53. Elizabeth Anne MitchellElizabeth Anne Mitchell

    I tested as an ambivert. No true surprise there at all. I have always hidden behind humor in groups, too.

    I can teach and train groups, but then crash, as you describe. It’s nice to know I’m not any weirder than I thought!

  54. Stephanie PhilipStephanie Philip

    I have always considered myself an introvert but after taking the test and thinking about it, I am an ambivert!

  55. M T McGuireM T McGuire

    I, too, tested as an ambivert. I can be extrovert, I often am but I need a lot of space and I, too, love social media for that reason. I can take it or leave it, without offending anyone, in a way you just can’t with real people.

    Cheers

    MTM

  56. Thomas WeaverThomas Weaver

    I remember taking a test in a university class (educational psychology), and when my results came back as neither ALL introvert nor ALL extrovert, the instructor insisted that I must not have answered honestly. (There was also a lot of ‘But people who like to read books and don’t like to attend football games are too shy to have friends’ sort of nonsense.) Good to see that the thinking has changed since then.

  57. ladycheetah7ladycheetah7

    All I can say is you hit it right on the nail. As an Introvert extraordinare I love my space and don’t like crowding me but people always walk away refreshed when dealing with me. After that I want to run Into my cave and recharge because I need It. The only time I become dominant when people don’t keep proper boundaries and I let them know in no uncertain terms. By then they are so shocked and will say something to the effect of I thought you were shy. I am but don’t mistake meekness for weakness.

  58. symplysilentsymplysilent

    Kristen, don’t forget the other Myers-Briggs classifications besides Introvert / Extrovert. There are also Sensory / Intuitive, Feeling / Truth, and Perceptive / Judging. And…even then…these are on PREFERENCES. Given time and training, a person can work successfully in any slot – we just might not prefer it or like it, and go home from a concert and curl up and hide in our beds to recharge.

    • Author Kristen LambAuthor Kristen Lamb

      If I went into that I’d have a BOOK, LOL. I think the Introvert/Extrovert is the most misunderstood though. They stick it with “shy” or “social anxiety” and that’s inaccurate. But yes, the many facets of human personality means no two of us are alike 😀

  59. totallyrandomgoodadvicetotallyrandomgoodadvice

    My fiancé and I are both Ambiverts. I’m an Introvert with extroverted tendency and he is an Extrovert with Introverted tendencies. Together we seem to work!

  60. Leslye PenelopeLeslye Penelope

    My husband tells me I’m not as introverted as I always thought I was. I’ve forced myself to be more comfortable talking to people — now I don’t even have to write down what I say before I pick up a phone and call someone! I’d never heard of the term ambivert, but it seems to fit me. Thanks for the great post!

  61. alicamckennajohnsonalicamckennajohnson

    You were wonderful at TFOB! And the audience loved you. I am an gregarious introvert, I recharge alone but once I’m around people I fine, until I’m done then I’m thinking of escaping out the bathroom window, but they’re always too small or too high up.

  62. StanislavaStanislava

    “If I never had to leave the house, I would be totally OK…” That’s absolute truth about me too. I recently started working again outside my house for just 3 hours a day – and I keep looking at the clock every 15 minutes until my time is up and I get to leave. Not that I have terrible job, I am also very sociable if I need to be, but I don’t go out of my way to socialize.

    When I was young, I actually use to get panic attacks when I had to meet new people, or go to a party. I was shaking, palm sweating mess. I was like the hermit crab, slowly getting out of my shell, inch by inch, exploring the big bad world outside. When I got older, I realized its not so bad and that most people that I get to meet are very nice and pleasant to be around.

    Now I can easily be thrown into a room full of people, asked to speak to them, at them, dance on the table, sing or otherwise embarrass myself for the fun of a group and I will do it. No problem. But it will happen only when I am being asked.

    Of course, just like Kristen said, I feel the best in a group of my fellow writers. But at the end of the day, I just need peace and quite of my home to recharge the batteries that got drained out of me by being engaging. Not that its a bad thing, but after a busy day or evening I need some me time, quietly curled up under a blanket with my latest read and cup of hot tea.

    Don’t even try to reach me, talk to me, text me, or otherwise engage me while my batteries are on recharge.

  63. katewylandkatewyland

    I can certainly identify with your post. I was always quite shy, yet I took part in speech and drama and even won awards. I can get up on a stage (did musical theater) as long as I don’t know anyone in the audience. But I definitely need alone time to recharge and just because I like it.

    My husband is more of an extrovert, loves parties and talking with people. At the same time, he isn’t really aware of other people. Interesting how that works.

  64. Abdul JAbdul J

    Yeah being introverted sucks sometimes lol. You feel like you have a timer hovering over your head even when you’re having the most fun ever and then you crawl home early completely shattered.. only to feel yourself more and more awake with nothing to do. (But doing nothing is awesome too and I could totally go full-on Cast Away without ever needing a Wilson.)

  65. skrizzoloskrizzolo

    It’s really nice to see all these posts about introverts and their strengths and challenges (I am one too). To Helen who wrote about being tired after teaching all day: Wow, do I understand that! Also, I do think that we live in a culture that sometimes rewards extroverted behavior and looks a trifle askance at quiet loner types. Finally, this post is quite timely as I am off to a conference tomorrow and must gather my energies.

  66. Christopher Lee DeardsChristopher Lee Deards

    For the longest time I considered myself an introvert, but my wife has convinced me otherwise. By no means am I an extrovert either. I guess that makes me an ambivert? Once I get going on a topic I can talk and talk. Plus, I have finally learned to ask me about themselves, their interests. One of the lessons I wish I had learned much, much earlier in life is to always ask people about themselves. People love to talk about their interests.
    Reading your book, Kristen, drove home the need to do so especially in this growing social media environment.

  67. Glynis JollyGlynis Jolly

    Although I can hold my own when I must, whether I’m in front of an audience or at a family gathering, but I like myself best and am much more comfortable when I’m alone. My idea of a perfect Christmas Day is being alone with a hot potpie and a favorite movie on a DVD.

  68. Addy RaeAddy Rae

    Oh, Thank You for this post! I’d never heard of an Ambivert, and I’ve always been confused by Introvert and Extravert quizes and questions. I love to be by myself, but I’m unhappy if I don’t spend time interacting with people, preferably family/friends but strangers will do, every single day. I’m outgoing in groups of familiar people or with one or two strangers, so much so that I had to learn to not run other people over when I speak and really listen, but with more than one or two strangers I’m strained and withdrawn, drained by the encounter rather than overflowing with energy as I would be otherwise. Confusing!

  69. Kuda JinyaKuda Jinya

    Great post, the other half and I had a debate about where we lie on the introvert/extrovert spectrum. Suffice it to say the question, “where do we gain energy or lose it” has put that ‘discussion’ to rest.Talk about good timing. It reminds me of a talk Suzanne Cain gave on the power of introverts. I wonder if you have ever come across it? Thanks again

  70. Deborah MakariosDeborah Makarios

    I’m a Christievert – I recharge reading classic mystery novels 🙂

  71. awax1217awax1217

    i am working retirement at LegoLand. The first thing I had to learn was to listen to the children. It was tough because I tended to allow the teacher in me dominate the conversation. But with practice I listen. They talk and talk. Really they get a kick out of someone listening to them and not interrupting them. Eventually even the shy ones talk. I am at an area where they build Lego cars. I ask them, “Do you want to build a fast car or a slow car?” Most say fast. But they answer and it draws them out. Your point of listening is well taken.

    • Author Kristen LambAuthor Kristen Lamb

      What a COOL job and thank you for listening. Little Ones need it most. ((HUGS))

  72. conniecockrellconniecockrell

    I’m an introvert. A two day, or even an 8 hour conference leaves me exhausted. Even a family get together leaves me sitting with eyes glazed. However, like you, I have no trouble getting up in front of a group and giving a presentation. Running a meeting, I love having the others in the room talk. All I have to do is keep the meeting on agenda!

  73. bonnyknitsbonnyknits

    Loved this post. I’m an introvert who spent seven years working retail, and it’s only now that I’ve left it that I realize how much it drained me. I expended all of my “people energy” at work and had nothing left for family when I got home. I work from home now and find connecting with like-minded people through social media so much more satisfying. Like this–I was reading it and thinking, “Yes! Yes! She gets it! That’s it exactly!” So, thanks for that!

  74. bonnyknitsbonnyknits

    Reblogged this on bonnyknits and commented:
    Her descriptions of how exhausting it is for introverts to be social were spot-on. Great analysis!

  75. Deborah SchaumbergDeborah Schaumberg

    Thank you for a great post. I’ve always considered myself an introvert but come out ambivert on the test. I’m a writer, nervous about public speaking, but you’ve given me hope that I’ll survive!

  76. SharonSharon

    Saw you twice at TFOB. Might have seen you more, but had to work a booth both days. I learned so much about doing social media better. Have signed on to WANA, and am following your blog.

  77. itsmayurrememberitsmayurremember

    Great read.
    Though I still am a bit confused as to where I lie, I am gonna go with being an ambivalent.

  78. LifeLoofahLifeLoofah

    Really interesting read; this furthers what I read a number of months ago regarding classification of introverts: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/20/introverts-signs-am-i-introverted_n_3721431.html. In the video the folks talk about the fact that shyness really has nothing to do with a personality-type.but rather anxiety. Introverts may feel anxiety or shyness due to social situations, but shyness itself does not equal introversion. I always had an inkling I was introverted, but this helped me to understand the need to “recharge” after social situations.
    Thanks for making me think on it a little bit more!

  79. Trudy GrossmanTrudy Grossman

    I would say that I started out with a similar experience of being an introvert to yours, except I was terrified of speaking in front of an audience, especially my peers. I became a teacher because I had a natural skill for helping others individual ly, as you would a Home Ec. Fashion Studies Teacher. Unfortunately, or fortunately for me in the long run, I got a job teaching Foods in a large high school. I had to overcome my phobia of speaking in front of students only a few years younger than I. It didn’t help that I was the most petite person there! I would say that sfter many years of teaching all age groups, I now am a ambivert. I still do not enjoy crowds or public speaking.

  80. pagesforbreakfastpagesforbreakfast

    AMBIVERT! I had never heard that word before and it expresses perfectly my own behaviour. I was just discussing this with my husband last night as I am reading a book on introverts and the benefits they provide in an extrovert-oriented world. I had always thought I was an extrovert because I’m a social intiator and can be quite animated in group settings, but since getting married, I have become so drained because I have lost my alone time. I have realized that I am introvert BUT if I am alone for too long, I also start to crave time with people. Thank you for supplying a term that puts into words how I function!

  81. ellariteellarite

    I had to look over my shoulder when I read this post and was mildly surprised that you weren’t standing behind me (pointing and laughing). I like the term ‘ambivert’. It’s a brilliant description of the ‘inbetweeners’. I tell folks that I ping between Type A and Type B personalities based on my mood, but now I can stand up and proudly state these words: “Hello, my name is Ella and I’m an Ambivert. When entering new environments (parties, socials, etc) I tend to stand near a wall until I get a “feel” for the place. Once I deem it fun and the people entertaining, my social butterfly wings appear and I MUST insert my opinions, dance moves or silliness. On the flip side, if I need to perform a presentation, (for work, or sometime for work, or mostly for work) then I don’t feel the need to observe a room because I OWN the room if that makes sense. I AM the presenter and I know my stuff. Throw your meager questions my way and watch as I answer with truth and confidence. Thank you Kristen, for showing me that ‘there are others like me’ out in the world.

  82. Raani YorkRaani York

    I think I’m an ambivert – at least that’s what it sounds… on the other hand I do have phases where I don’t need to see people and prefer being left alone. But from what I was told this doesn’t have to be a sign for an introvert – just for a person with the guts to disappear for a while.
    I need some time for myself sometimes.
    And when I do have to present in front of two (or two hundred) I still nearly wet myself.
    Maybe I’m a turtle. *chuckle*

  83. TymberDaltonTymberDalton

    Between my fibromyalgia and tinnitus that sometimes makes it difficult to hear, and being an introvert in many ways, it makes the issue worse for me. Karaoke sober? Absolutely. Present or teach or perform community theatre in front of a room of dozens/hundreds/thousands? Sure.

    Put me in a room of strangers and force me to interact one-on-one?

    You gotta be shitting me. Not just no, but hell no.

    I found out I actually fit the Highly Sensitive Person profile to a T. If I’m in a group of people I know, especially if I know them well, they think I talk peoples’ ears off. But you put me in a group of strangers and it’s all I can do not to crawl under the table and hide. Online, people think I’m very outgoing and extroverted. But it’s only because I can control the when, how much, etc. of the contact. Too much social interaction of the “wrong” kind can totally drain me to the point of physical exhaustion. I need time to retreat and recharge my batteries. But an evening with good friends who I feel totally comfortable with, who I know well and who know me well, that can almost recharge me in a way, too.

    I know some people don’t believe in feeling energy (so feel free to skip this part LOL) but I also have that problem. Some people, their energy hits me just “wrong” and it’s like a massive blinking warning signal. If I’m with Hubby, or with Sir, literally using them as a ground, it’s not nearly as bad.

    • Gretchen GuzmanGretchen Guzman

      I get what you’re saying about some people’s energy. You can really feel a difference between the givers and the takers. I’m an introvert (or possibly ambivert) and I feel exactly how you do about being forced to interact with strangers. I’m great in front of a crowd and definitely appear extroverted online, but like Kristen, too much IRL interaction, especially with those I don’t know will put me in a coma.

  84. HollyHolly

    I’m an introvert. It took me a long time to figure myself out. I’m also an HSP, Highly Sensitive Person. I find big groups exhausting and tend to limit my time in them. Small groups of good friends are great though and I do find that I need that adult contact (I have two small children, say no more!) in order to stay sane. In school I was bullied and labelled as shy, but I am a creative and expressive person, so I have tended to self-style in ways that might suggest that I crave attention (I have dreadlocks, for instance). While I like to have the attention of a close friend if I need a chat about something, I don’t crave the limelight, yet I did drama as a kid! I loved being on stage, pretending to be someone else but would get sick with nerves about being watched. I’m a beautiful contradiction 😉

  85. HollyHolly

    Gah, I meant to type ambivert! I have considered myself an introvert for so long the word just sort of writes itself when I describe myself 😉

  86. HollyHolly

    Reblogged this on H.B. Lyne and commented:
    I’ve always considered myself an introvert, despite the crazy hair and performing arts as a kid. Kristen Lamb talks about the ambivert and it rings beautiful bells to me.

  87. Gretchen GuzmanGretchen Guzman

    Reblogged this on Sound as a Crystal and commented:
    This is a very cool discussion about the various strengths and weaknesses of introverts. And could I be an ambivert? I don’t know. Interesting idea.

  88. mcsgalmcsgal

    Interesting post. I have considered myself an introvert but I have learned to enjoy teaching and speaking. Send me to the mingle before or after the class and I want to melt into the woodwork but I shine when I am up in front of everyone. Actually I like being a fly on the wall in a crowded room. Being home alone is something I have always enjoyed.

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