Introverts of the World, Unite!

Susan Cain's book.

Susan Cain’s book.

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.

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11 thoughts on “Introverts of the World, Unite!

  1. It seems a frequent misconception that introverts don’t have the same social skills as do extroverts. We do, except that it takes more energy on our part to sustain ourselves in social settings without also having some time out to regroup and re-energize. Thanks, Quinn, for raising this issue again – because it is so important for all of us to recognize just how much introverts have to offer.

  2. I am an ambivert (an extrovert with a really low rating) living in a family of extroverts who don’t get the need for solitude. I keep trying…

  3. Being 1000% extrovert (ETF and something else if I remember the last Meyers Briggs I took) this was an interesting post. I took the MB in a smallish group and discovered that there were only two of us with the same config except for introvert vs. extrovert. She was my polar opposite on that scale and it was interesting to see the introvert view of the world. I also took another test where I was high creative (yellow), and got along extremely well with my high Tech co-workers (blues), but did not relate well at all with the one person who was in the middle (Green). I thought that the color scheme was very telling!

    • Love the color scheme idea! I am a big Myers-Briggs fan. And yes, you would have gotten four letters-E or I, N or S, F or T, and J or P. There are degrees of each. I would have imagined in the Colors scheme that you’d be a yellow.

      • The Yellow, green blue was Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument, and I knew that I would be yellow (there was an extensive questionnaire to be answered) but I did not think that I would be the HIGH Yellow! Of course, these were techies at Bank of America, so maybe high yellow was to be expected. My best bud was the high blue… go figure!

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