Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking is a book that helps introverts claim a respectable place in society. Susan Cain, a self-proclaimed introvert, takes on our culture’s love of “outgoing” people. In school, kids are put in groups to learn; at work, we “collaborate” and work in teams–all difficult for introverts. Many organizations now require a personality inventory like Myers-Briggs® before a job offer is extended. Introverts are weeded out as “not fitting in.”
Susan Cain sees a big link between the 1963’s publication of The Feminine Mystique and Quiet. Cain says,
“Introverts are to extroverts what women were to men at that time–second-class citizens with gigantic amounts of untapped talent. Our schools, workplaces, and religious institutions are designed for extroverts, and many introverts believe that there is something wrong with them and that they should try to “pass” as extroverts. The bias against introversion leads to a colossal waste of talent, energy, and, ultimately, happiness.”
I’m reading the book for the second time now, and am finding it more interesting than the first time. It’s good to know that introverts may process more slowly, but it’s also more carefully, and when they do speak, it’s generally powered with information and facts, not bluster and hype.
Cain points out the advantages of being an introvert:
“introverts like to be alone–and introverts enjoy being cooperative. Studies suggest that many of the most creative people are introverts, and this is partly because of their capacity for quiet. Introverts are careful, reflective thinkers who can tolerate the solitude that idea-generation requires. On the other hand, implementing good ideas requires cooperation, and introverts are more likely to prefer cooperative environments, while extroverts favor competitive ones.”
I like the mix of research and personal stories. I don’t claim the book is hard science, but it is an eye opener for all the people who think that Type A workers are the only ones who can make a financially or culturally meaningful contribution.
—Quinn McDonald is a writer, creativity coach, and introvert.