Friday, February 22, 2013

quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can't stop talking

Like many introverts, I've often felt misunderstood. In both school and the workplace, extroverts are the ideal. And while I've come to love my own introversion, it's clear that our society is becoming more outspoken all the time. It's all about group meetings, open space floor-plans, parties, networking, oral presentations . . . 

If you'd rather stay home on a Saturday night with a good book sometimes or engage in smaller, one-on-one conversations (as opposed to large group discussions), you're often seen as odd or flawed. But of course just as extroverts have their talents, so do introverts. We're vital to society. With our great levels of focus and concentration, we make excellent inventors-- dreamers, artists, writers, scientists. Without us and our introverted natures, the world would be void of some pretty amazing things (the theory of relativity, Apple computers, and Harry Potter, amongst others). And with this book, Susan Cain proves it.

I've only gotten into nonfiction books recently because in the past, I assumed they were all boring. "Quiet" is the perfect example of why I should have been reading more nonfiction all along. It's clear, well-researched, and full of information. Not once was I bored. Cain is clearly very interested in the dynamics of introvert/extrovert relations herself, and so is able to make the subject interesting for her readers as well. Nearly every page contains some nugget of research you'll want to share with friends, family, and coworkers.

For example, did you know . . . 

  • That extroverts are more likely to commit adultery and divorce?
  • That introverts are the best leaders of extroverts? And extroverts the best leaders of introverts?
  • That solitude is a key component of creativity? 
  • And thus, in a group of very creative people, you'll mostly find introverts?
  • That open-plan offices reduce productivity?
  • That group brainstorming is not as effective as individual brainstorming?
  • That a reactive amygdala is an indicator of introversion (and can be tested in infancy)?
  • That some cultures (China and Japan, for example) have an introvert ideal?
  • That extroverts are more reward-sensitive and prone to gambling and taking risks?
The book is full of cool facts like this, as well as the research to back them up.

I also love Cain's humility. She acknowledges that few of us are completely introverts or extroverts and that we won't conform to every study she cites. She knows well that many people who seem to be extroverts are introverts at heart (they've just learned to stifle away their true selves in order to pursue certain goals). And after relating several research studies, she goes on to say that these studies are not definitive.

But this book is definitely not just for introverts. As an introvert, it helps you understand yourself. As an extrovert, it will allow you to step inside the heads of your introverted friends, family, and colleagues. I only wish that more people would read it. If all educators and office workers read "Quiet," I'm certain that a great number of changes would occur in schools, workplaces, and even homes. After all, one-third to one-half of our society is composed of introverts. If we could accommodate their needs as well as we do the needs of extroverts, we could be a happier and more productive society overall.

TITLE: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
AUTHOR: Susan Cain
PUBLICATION DATE: 24 January 2012
DATE FINISHED: 21 February 2013
VERDICT: 5/5 stars. I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...