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Are you an introvert or an extrovert and why it matters to know?

Are you an introvert or an extrovert? You probably wondered. It is also very likely that you suspect the answer. I did, though I was proven wrong. When one early morning I decided to get a more solid validation of my suspicion of being an introvert, I did what most would do - I googled “Am I an introvert or an extrovert?”. The suggestion what caught my eye was an online test by the organisational psychologist Adam Grant. Adam Grant’s test was the perfect match to my need. He is a professor at the Wharton School of the University of PennsylvaniaI, best-selling author of numerous books and a renowned researcher. So I opted for this scientifically-based test.

Grant’s test consists of only 10 questions. As soon as I started answering them I got increasingly perplexed. (Spoiler alert!) How come during the the weekend I prefer the quiet time alone to a big party while at the same time I am perfectly fine with being the centre of attention among a large group of people? As it turned out, it is possible. I was neither an introvert, nor an extrovert. I was an ambivert. In psychology this is a person who has a balance of extrovert and introvert features in their personality.

According to Grant, ambiverts often achieve greater sales productivity than extroverts or introverts. He writes that

Ambiverts are more inclined to listen to customers’ interests and less vulnerable to appearing too excited or overconfident, tendencies that can also make them highly effective in leadership roles.

And, Grant adds,

because ambiverts naturally engage in a flexible pattern of talking and listening, they’re likely to express sufficient assertiveness and enthusiasm needed to close a sale.

Why is it useful to discuss who is introvert, extrovert or ambivert?

There are at least three practical implications.

  • First, for an organisation it is important to make sure there is a very diverse types of people in their teams. According to a study, published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, and pointed by Adams, teams with a mix of extroverts and introverts tend to be more productive than teams made up mostly of one of those types - they have a better mix of task focus and social cohesion.

  • Second, it seems different types of managers are more suitable for different teams. For instance, extroverts do a better job with teams where people want more direction from above, while introverts are more suited for leading proactive teams, because their listening skills mean they hear more ideas and leave colleagues feeling more valued.

  • Third, there are numerous benefits of having a good self-awareness - the ability, according to which a person sees herself clearly and objectively through reflection and introspection (based on definition in Among the benefits are that it makes people more proactive, lead to better self-control, higher productivity, decision-making, and job-related well-being, to name a few.

If you are managing a team, you can easily test yourself on whether you have built a diverse, and as research shows, more effective team. Just ask your team members to do Adam Grant’s test and then anonymously post in Survey Monkey their result by answering one question: What was your test result:

Although scientifically-based, one needs to always remember to take personality type tests with a pinch of salt. These tests are an indication, not a verdict. People are complex and diverse. They rarely fall into an extreme either-or category. So labelling is not the answer. Openly communicating and using each others strengths to achieve a common victory is.

Victory Corners 2020, by Viktoriya V. Blazheva


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