Breaking Free

Welcome to Break Free Consulting


Vol 8, Issue 8

Becoming an Ambivert

April 2014

Have you ever heard anyone say, “That’s just the way I am?” Do you occassionally use that line?

In past decades and centuries, it was believed that your personality is set by a certain age and there’s really nothing you can do about it. Have you ever taken a DISC profile? Have you ever taken the MBTI (Myers-Briggs)?

These types of assessments are based on Jungian theory – developed in the 1920’s by Carl G. Jung. You basically take the assessment and your results are then categorized into things like Introvert / Extrovert or People-focused / Task-focused. These types of tools have been widely used and have provided a great deal of value. However, recent findings in neuroscience may tell a slightly different story about the permanence of these traits.

Life in the Bucket

When I was young (yes, a long, long time ago – as my nieces and nephews say), I remember being told how shy I was. When I got into college, I remember taking an assessment that told me I was an introvert. I also remember asking how I could become an extrovert because they seemed to have a lot of fun. The assessment administrator told me that there was nothing to do. I was the way I was measured to be. I felt a little stuck… like I should be walking around with an Introvert name tag on my forehead.

How can that be? I’m an introvert and I’m that way forever? Well, I fell for it. I went through the next 20 years as an introvert. When people asked me to join a large group, I couldn’t because I was an introvert. When folks asked me to speak in front of others, I couldn’t do that either… didn’t they realize I was an introvert? Oh, and I can just forget about going into sales. Introverts are terrible sales people.

The Truth about Introverts and Extraverts

Let’s just look at the topic of sales but I’m sure it applies to other areas as well. (Remember, if you’re a leader, you’re in sales as you are always selling your ideas and goals.)

In Daniel Pink’s book, To Sell is Human, he discusses this topic.

“The notion that extraverts are the finest salespeople is so obvious that we’ve overlooked one teensy flaw. There’s almost no evidence that it’s actually true.” …

“One of the most comprehensive investigations— a set of three meta-analyses of thirty-five separate studies involving 3,806 salespeople— found that the correlation between extraversion and sales was essentially nonexistent. (Positive correlations are measured on a scale that goes from 0 to 1, with higher numbers —say, 0.62— indicating close correlations and 0 no correlation at all. Across the thirty-five studies, the correlation between extraversion and sales performance was a minuscule 0.07.)”

So, the typical assertive, gregarious, extroverted sales person isn’t always the best at sales?

Could that mean that introverts could also be just as good at public speaking, leading, or dare I say it, have just as much fun at parties?

Busting the Myth

Researcher and management professor, Adam Grant, of The Wharton School explored this notion of extroversion and sales and he discovered something quite interesting.

In his article published in the Psychological Science journal, he is quoted as saying

“Although there are plenty of claims in the literature that more extraverted salespeople would perform better, the evidence was surprisingly weak,” says Grant.

Grant researched sales using two measurements… a 1-7 scale of introversion-extroversion and sales revenue. His research showed that introverted sales reps did NOT perform as well as extroverted ones. The introverts earned revenues of about $120/hr while the extroverts were at $125/hr.

However, neither group did as well as the AMBIVERTS. The ambi-whats?

These are people who are neither overly extraverted nor wildly introverted. Go back to that 1-to-7 introversion-extraversion scale. Ambiverts sit roughly in the center. They’re not 1s or 2s, but they’re not 6s or 7s. In Grant’s study, these Goldilocks personalities— not too hot, not too cold— earned an average of nearly $155 per hour, easily besting their counterparts. In fact, the salespeople who had the highest average revenue—$208 per hour— had extraversion scores of 4.0, smack at the midpoint.

Isn’t that amazing? As you can see from the chart below, the extroverts aren’t the best sales people. The AMBIVERTS are.

Busting the Bucket

Are you allowing someone’s assessment of you to become your reality? Were you told that you’re too short, too tall, too fat, too skinny, too people-focused, too task-focused, too slow, too fast? Remember this, please:

Someone’s opinion of you does not have to become your reality. You control who you become.

As Daniel Pink discusses in his book, successful leaders and sales people are the best at “attunement“. Attunement is the ability to bring one’s actions and outlook into harmony with other people and with the context you’re in. It’s about effective perspective-taking!!

Are you effective at taking different perspectives or do you often times get locked into one or two?

Neuro-axiology is ALL about perspectives. The VQ Profile can measure your broadest perspectives (called VQ-100s) that you can use to bust out of your bucket! How do I know? Well, it has worked for me. This introvert now does sales and speaks in front of a LOT of people… and LOVES it!!

Try the free online assessment today and watch the NEW 25-minute video that helps to understand your results.

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