Blogging / Books / Reading / Reviews / Self-Help / Writing

Quiet: The Power Of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking

Do you often let calls go through to voicemail? Enjoy one-on-one conversations as opposed to group activities? Dislike conflict? Prefer working alone rather than in a team? 

If you answered yes to the majority of these questions, then you my friend, are probably an introvert.

introvers3

The good news is, you’re not alone. According to Susan Cain, author of the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking, at least 1/3 of the people we know are introverts.

introverts1

Including me.

Yes- I know it  may come as a surprise, given how hilarious, effervescent and engaging  I am on my blog- but don’t let that purple wig fool you. On the inside, I’m just a scared little panda. 

introverts2

I prefer listening to talking, find it easier to express myself in writing, and to the disappointment of my throngs of friends and admirers, often prefer to stay home, read a book and be by myself on a Saturday night.

introverts3

Cain’s book explores the idea that in today’s society, introverts are chronically undervalued. By praising extroversion above almost all else, we fail to capitalize on the special and unique skills introverts possess, like focus, innovation, creativity, work ethic, thoughtfulness, and observation. 

Cain explains how over the past 100 years, Western culture has become obsessed with the idea of personality. “The Extrovert Ideal” now permeates almost everything we do: from offices designed in open concepts to inspire “Groupthink” and “brainstorming sessions”, to classrooms arranged in “pods”,  to the success of such books as “How to Win Friends and Influence People” .

If only all open concept offices had Don Draper in them.

If only all open concept offices had Don Draper in them.

Introversion has become a form of pathology – a personality trait that needs to be “fixed”. We encourage children who are introverted to “come out of their shells”, rather than focusing on what they can bring to the table. Cain points to evidence that our “extrovert ideal” can actually be harmful in business, and lobbies for change.

I decided to read this book after a friend showed me Cain’s 2012 TED Talk on the same subject. It received over 4 million YouTube hits and helped start what is now known as “The Quiet Revolution”.

introverts11

The book is exhaustively researched: Cain spent almost 7 years wading through literature and scientific studies, as well as conducting her own “field research”. She went to a Tony Robbins leadership conference, spent a week at Harvard Business School, shadowed Asian American high school students, interviewed psychologists and prominent business people, attended a retreat for the highly sensitive and observed an Evangelical Christian leadership conference. 

introverts13

I found this book fascinating, and it really resonated with me on a lot of levels. Before becoming a writer, Cain was a corporate lawyer on Wall Street, and discusses the difficulty of being an introvert in a profession dominated by big personalities. As a young lawyer, I can relate. I am constantly attending business development and networking seminars where we are encouraged to hand out business cards like Halloween candy.

introverts6

“Follow up with everyone you meet!” they say. “Introduce yourself to the Managing partner in the elevator!”. As an introvert, this can feel overwhelming. You worry you will be left behind by all of your gregarious, outgoing contemporaries who fluently speak the language of schmooze.

introverts10

Cain, however, explains how she put her skills as an introvert to work for her. By being the most prepared person in the room and using her skills of listening and observation, she became a highly successful negotiator, eventually founding her own consulting business. 

Another point Cain explored that I found interesting was the “internet paradox”: introverts are much more likely to express intimate details about themselves on the internet, to total strangers- often things their friends or family would be surprised to learn about them. 

This definitely rings true with me. As cheesy as it is to say, I feel like when I started blogging, I found my voice. It was like suddenly, my personality was more tangible to those around me. I felt understood. 

introverts7

This is overly dramatic but you catch my drift.

You should definitely read this book if you are an introvert, or have introverts in your life. (if you’re curious whether you are an introvert, you can take Cain’s quiz here) .I will say, the book can be a little heavy on the scientific mumbo jumbo- so if you don’t want to deal with all that independent/dependent variable noise, then you can always just watch the TED Talk instead.

I give it: 4.2/5 Intellectual Dachshunds 

“I have never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude.”

“I have never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude.”

Question of the Day: Are You An Introvert, or an Extrovert?

About these ads

37 thoughts on “Quiet: The Power Of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking

  1. That creepy laptop picture will haunt my dreams. I’m an introvert, too. It’s kind of interesting, because at my job I talk to people in St. Louis daily via email, and I can tell they like me better than the people in the Chicago office, because they know “writing” me instead of quiet, small-talk-hating me.

  2. Probably a bit of an introvert. I’ll sit there seething at some of the injustices I see, yet stay silent the entire time.

    I work in IT, so can do all kinds of nasty things to their accounts and computers behind their back.

      • Nothing recent really springs to mind, but I used to do a lot of it when I was sitting next to a troublesome colleague at work.

        He would moan about the most inane things you can imagine. His ability to turn molehills into mountains was almost King Midas-like.

        Most of the time I’d ignore him, but it would build up until I suddenly told him to shut up. He’d then sulk for a couple of days – giving me some peace and quiet – and then the process would start all over again.

  3. Interesting post. I’ve watched Cain’s TED Talk too and I could relate to most of the things she said. Yet I wonder, is it that black-and-white? Is it not possible that introverts can feel extrovert in certain situations, or in interactions with certain groups of people, and vice versa? While I always enjoy being by myself, I’m always talkative at social gatherings. Or does this simply affirm “The Extrovert Ideal”, that I only behave this way because of conformity?

    Thank you for this post. It has done three things: (1) I’m definitely interested in reading the book; (2) That laptop picture inspired me to write a short story; (3) It turns out, after a quarter of a century, I still don’t know myself that well after all. :)

    • I think you’re right that it’s not totally black and white- I can definitely be extroverted at times.
      Maybe it’s more of a spectrum? Glad you enjoyed!

  4. Your self-description pretty much applies to me. I’m extroverted on paper, which creates a disconnect for those who know me in real life. Not shy but I prefer standing off, observing and (ahem!) commenting. In the next week, I’ll be front and centre at two book events. I can’t say the thought terrifies me — I’ve done events before and enjoy them — but it’s not my natural setting. In a way, it will be like acting, a persona, fulfilling the expectation that I SHOULD be extroverted.
    Also, most ironic sentence in a story about introverts: “The good news is, you’re not alone.”

    • I love that you always pick up on my genius puns- even when I don’t realize I’m making them ;)
      Good luck with the book events- just think about how amazing you’ll feel after you’ve done it and it’s over. That’s what gets me through!

  5. great post, love that you shared. definitely will have to read. i think within the corporate world world that focuses and culture and leadership there is a recognition that the ‘power of the introvert’ is a good thing. i have introvert tendencies and strengths although i usually fall into the extrovert camp, but i am working on my inner introvert. i would much rather take a meeting with a person who has read the pre-read for a meeting and has made detailed notes and is able to listen and observe than sit down at a table of extroverts who haven’t done the pre-reading and who clamber over each other to talk–taking us clearly off path. love it!!! don’t hand out your card like candy make –observe and when the time is right have a meaningful convo and then present your card….or in true introvert style–chat and later when you remember an addition point send a handwritten card with you card with a follow up to the conversation….

  6. I bet even my wife would be shocked to learn that I consider myself (and this little quiz verified) an introvert. I’m not shy by any means, but my preference is always something low key over a huge event. Interesting, I may have to check this book out.

    • She actually writes a lot about the difference between shyness and introversion- and how a large percentage of introverts aren’t shy at all . You should check it out!

  7. I too am an introvert and people try to “fix” you! There is nothing wrong about being this way and I say, just imagine the world if everyone was an extrovert! Nothing would ever get done. Great blog, thank you! :)

  8. Sweet! I’m an introvert. I say all of us introverts get together and throw a party….Oh, wait. That wouldn’t work.

    Great post. I use writing to find my voice as well and go through these periods of weeks without hanging with friends because it takes a lot out of me. I need to refuel, time to myself, time for reflection. That sorta nerdy stuff that us introverts like to do. Thanks for the recommendations. Cheers.

    • Haha we could have a blogging comment party? Maybe when we feel ready we can graduate to skype ;) I definitely need time to recharge too- last week i had work or social commitments every night and by the time Friday came I was exhausted.. All I wanted was a good book, my couch and chocolate.

  9. I am definitely an introvert, and I, too, find it easier to share on my blog than with real people in real life. It feels weird, but at least I know I’m not the only one.

  10. I raise my hand as an introvert too. I also like sharing my terrible writing much more with random people like you guys (bloggers) than I share with my parents or “friends”. I am going to start the quiet revolution by expressing my thoughts.

  11. What is interesting is that I just started reading this book two days ago! I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it. I feel like I’m an extreme introvert. I can stay in my apartment without leaving for days and not be phased at all by it. I’m closed off and silent with groups, but I can talk for hours and hours with one person.

    It’s so infuriating when someone tries to make it seem like it’s a problem. :/ I run into this issue as a social work intern. I want a career as an individual therapist, but I get a lot of unnecessary pressure to lead support groups, which doesn’t appeal to me at all. Then when I try to explain my preferences, I sometimes still feel like I’m not heard or understood. I love being an introvert, but I certainly hate the way we’re viewed by a lot of folks.

  12. I read this book pretty recently, it was pretty empowering to read and really embrace my personality and temperament. (I am such an introvert. And I am embracing those personality traits even more, that I feel like I’ve gotten more-so in the last few years). The connections she draws between introversion and sensitivity and energy levels really resonated, as well. People should stop giving us introverts a hard time! :) Although I do like people, I think my dream job would definitely be blogging/writing/reading all day, BY MYSELF. Sorry, everyone. At least I’d be blogging to other people. :P Great overview and post on this book. Glad to see you got to read it, too. :)

  13. Brilliant book, read it when it first came out. Total introvert, and, to me, the best part was knowing that there is nothing wrong with me. Being the one who doesn’t speak up in meetings, or at school, and was thought of as ‘not getting it’ is tough. It was just nice to finally read that there are a great many of us who quietly make our way through the world, and that there is nothing wrong with us.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s