By now, the debate about whether lawyers are more often introverts or extroverts—and which personality type is better suited to the job—is practically a cliché.
You can find convincing arguments for why more introverts practice law (lawyers must spend hours reading, take a deliberate approach to their work, and think before they speak), as well as credible reasons why the majority of lawyers have to be extroverts (lawyers must often be able to command attention, communicate in an assertive manner, and deal with conflict). The reality, however, is that like people in just about every profession, the average lawyer is an introvert and extrovert at the same time.
What is an Ambivert?
An ambivert has personality traits typical of both introverts and extroverts. Ambiverts may be gregarious and assertive but also know when to be quiet and listen. They may love to spend time alone reading or participating in other solitary activities, but also enjoy going out dancing for hours with a big group of friends. They may be able to hole up in an office to quietly focus on a mountain of documents for hours but be the most polished, comfortable presenter in the firm. As you can imagine, being an ambivert can be quite advantageous for lawyers.
Ambiverts are Flexible
The advantage comes with the ambivert’s ability to intuit when to lean on introvert qualities and which situations are better served by extrovert traits. While extroverts need to spend time with people and introverts need ample alone-time to be energized, ambiverts are able to recharge with a mixture of both quiet and social activities. This ability to be flexible and gain energy from various sources means that ambiverts are able to excel in areas that require communication, by knowing when to be more assertive and when to take a more measured approach.
The ambivert lawyer knows how to deal with fast-talking, blustery clients as well as those who are reticent and need time to think through details; she is just as comfortable at large networking events as she is one-on-one with a client; he is great at presenting information in client meetings as well as poring over documents for hours.
Know What You Need
If you’re not particularly shy but have always felt drained by networking events, it may just be that you need to find some quiet time to energize beforehand so you can be at your best. If hours alone in your office staring at brief after brief drives you nuts, find a way to break up the monotony—schedule a brief call and coffee breaks at regular intervals so you can recharge by being social.
Most people who fall in the middle of the spectrum are often able to switch back and forth easily. However, it can be worth it to take note of which areas you have trouble with and how letting out your inner introvert or extrovert at the right moment can help.
Now that you’ve thought about your personality a bit: This week, pick one way to recharge differently before an activity that usually drains you.