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If you ask anyone who's met me at a community meetup whether I'm an introvert or extravert, they'll probably say, without hesitation, extravert. If I'm in my element, especially amongst people I already know, I'm outgoing, friendly, and quick to offer my opinion. My history as a theatre major would seem to confirm that: only extraverts want to get up on stage, right? In truth, I get more energy from spending time on my own: working at home with my dog, a solitary train ride, watching Netflix on the couch. If I have to be social too many days in a row, I tend to hibernate at home to recover after. At the end of a networking session with new people, I'm exhausted. On the other hand, at the end of a great discussion with intelligent people, I'm energized and ready to talk to ear off of my half-asleep husband. Am I suffering from a bad case of Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde? No, I'm just an Ambivert.
Myers-Briggs personality testing has been popular in academia and human resources as a way of discovering how different students and employees learn, work, and rest. In regards to attitude, the test sorts people into two categories: extraverts, who derive energy from outward actions, and introverts, who gather energy from inward pursuits. An ambivert is someone who falls in between those two extremes. First used in the 1920s, the term has gained exposure again through Dan Pink's book To Sell is Human. It's not surprising that most people can be classified as ambiverts, but how do your ambivert qualities make you a great community manager?
We Need Other People - Just Not All The Time
One of the key indicators of whether you're an introvert or extravert is how you recharge your batteries, so to speak. Do you get your energy from being out and about, around your friends, having a great time? Would you rather have some quiet time at home to rest and decompress? If you're an ambivert, you're likely in between. You really like spending time with your community, but sometimes you have to unplug from it for a little while. You can keep your head down and get your work done, but you absolutely need to reach out and connect with other community managers on TweetChats or Meetups or you don't feel fulfilled. Appeasing both needs means you're much more likely to find a good work/life balance than someone on either end of the spectrum.
We Hear and Listen
An April 2013 study found that contrary to popular belief, extraverts don't make great sales people. Their enthusiasm can cause extraverts to overlook the needs of the customer. Ambiverts are able to keep their emotions in check and listen so that they can respond appropriately. This helps community managers, who will often need to use active listening skills with members when trying to solve their problems.
We Take Action, But Think First
While extraverts will have an idea and act on it as soon as possible, introverts will often think themselves out of an idea. Ambiverts straddle the distance in between, thinking ideas through, but always focused on how to bring those ideas to action. This serves especially well in conflict resolution: rather than take quick, rash action, ambiverts will reflect on the details of a situation and use that as a basis for action.
We Can Speak Your Language
Ambiverts are the chameleons of communication. If you're loud and energetic, we can match that and come up to your level. If you want a more chilled conversation, we can dig that, too. This proves invaluable to a community manager, who has to be at ease talking to all the members of their community, as well as reaching out to new contacts, working with all the departments within their company, and reporting to the C-level.
We're Jacks of All Trades
A diplateevo post on ambiverts cautioned that ambiverts can sometimes have trouble finding one career and sticking to it, as they have a tendency to become jacks of all trades. This actually works in favor of community managers, who often have to juggle multiple roles within their title. A diverse background (a little bit of sales, a little bit of customer service, a little bit of content) is also a plus when beginning a career as a community manager.
(Image: Fitting, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from x1brett's photostream)