I consider myself an adapted introvert, having learned to adjust to an extroverted world. Years ago I read Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. It is one of those books you think about long after you’ve finished reading and has become one of my go-to books. I find myself talking about it in casual conversations, using what I learned in articles I write and applying its principles in raising my children to value who they are.
Cain delves into the world of introverts in an insightful way. She brings valuable understanding in how to either live life as an introvert or interact with the introverts you know. Her study helps to improve our relationships as we interact with one another.
Besides offering some genuinely interesting material, the narrative is readable. Sometimes nonfiction can be hard to trudge through, but not this book. Each chapter takes you through numerous case studies connected with real-life people making the results or conclusions of the case studies relatable and often applicable to someone you may know or love.
It is estimated somewhere between ⅓ to ½ of our society is introverted. These numbers seemed a bit startling until Cain makes the connection. Introverts perceive the world to be rejecting and intolerant of their characteristics. As a result, they have become masters at masking their introverted nature.
In general, American society identifies introversion as a weakness because of the extroverted world in which we live. Our culture celebrates “personality” which can affect an introverts self-esteem. The reality is, an introvert’s powerful qualities are often overlooked or downplayed.
Cain’s message is one of encouragement and validation to introverts everywhere. Embrace who you are and your purpose in life. The world needs those thorough, devoted types. And when introverts and extroverts team up and utilize each other’s strengths, they are unbeatable.Spend your free time the way you like, not the way you think you're supposed to. -Susan Cain Click To Tweet
Quiet changed the way I look at myself and the world around me. It helped me understand so many of my tendencies and recognize the value in what I have to contribute in a world of extroverts. If you think you or someone you love might be an introvert, I would be sure to add this to your list of books to read.
Here are some of my favorite quotes from Quiet:
Love is essential; gregariousness is optional ... Relationships make everyone happier, introverts included, but think quality over quantity. - Susan Cain Click To Tweet
Introverts, in contrast, may have strong social skills and enjoy parties and business meetings, but after a while wish they were home in their pajamas. They prefer to devote their social energies to close friends, colleagues, and family. Introverts listen more than they talk, think before they speak, and often feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation. They tend to dislike conflict. Many have a horror of small talk, but enjoy deep discussions.”
There's zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas. -Susan Cain Click To Tweet
Figure out what you are meant to contribute to the world and make sure you contribute it. If this requires public speaking or networking or other activities that make you uncomfortable, do them anyway. But accept that they’re difficult, get the training you need to make them easier, and reward yourself when you’re done.”
The secret to life is to put yourself in the right lighting. For some it’s a Broadway spotlight. For others, a lamplit desk. Use your natural powers — of persistence, concentration, insight, and sensitivity — to do work you love and work that matters. Solve problems, make art, think deeply.”
Some Additional Thoughts
Jennifer Wise, one of our contributors, wrote about learning and embracing our differences. You can read her article here.
I took the Myers Briggs Type Indicator test years ago. The results were initially surprising until I understood how these insights could help me understand and benefit from my strengths. If you’re interested, you can take the test here and discover your best-fit type and interesting insights and meaning in your preferences.