At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking: who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over working in teams. It is to introverts–Rosa Parks, Chopin, Dr. Seuss, Steve Wozniak–that we owe many of the great contributions to society.
In Quiet, Susan Cain argues that we dramatically undervalue introverts and shows how much we lose in doing so. She charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal throughout the twentieth century and explores how deeply it has come to permeate our culture. She also introduces us to successful introverts–from a witty, high octane public speaker who recharges in solitude after his talks, to a record-breaking salesman who quietly taps into the power of questions. Passionately argued, superbly researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how they see themselves. (synopsis from back cover)
After reading this book, I became much more okay with my introvertedness. Like most introverts, I have found it difficult to navigate in a culture where extroversion is the preferred personality type. I have become rather good at tricking people into thinking I’m more out there than I am, however this is exhausting and sometimes I just can’t do it. This book does a great job of explaining why that is and also validating introverts.
Susan Cain put a lot of research into this book, and that shows. There is so much information, but Cain manages to handle it in a very palatable way. Her straight-to-the-point writing style mixed with her sense of humor mesh wonderfully. I was both informed and entertained throughout the entirety of the book.
This book actually allowed me to better understand myself. I’ve always known that I was an introvert, and when I was younger I was shy. Over the years, I have mostly overcome my shyness (anxiety in massive crowds is another issue), but I have never outgrown my hatred for small talk, my need to recharge after a night out, my preference for small intimate gatherings. There were times when I thought that something was wrong with me. Why don’t I want to go out a party? Why do I find small talk so exhausting? While I knew that I was what is defined as an introvert, it’s often not explained that this is something that you can’t change, and shouldn’t want to. It’s something to embrace. It’s who you are. This book helped me come to terms with this.
As an introvert living in an extrovert society, I can identify with the stories of both the author and those she writes about in the book. I’ve been through schooling that insisted we do most of our projects in groups. I’ve been in retail jobs that forced me into small talk with dozens of people everyday and I went home completely drained. I’ve dealt with extroverts not understanding why I need space and alone time. This is not their fault. We are taught from a young age that success looks like extroversion, so it makes sense that introverts sometimes get a little lost in the fray.
This is why I am so glad that this book exists. It’s an essential read for both introverts and extroverts. Introverts can learn a little more about what makes them tick, and extroverts learn that introverts just have a different way of being and going about things, and that if we combine our strengths, great things happen.