Monday, March 19, 2012

Quiet: The Power of Introverts...

The title: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
The authors: Susan Cain
Publication: Crown Publishers, 2012
Got it from: The library

I don't know what's more remarkable: a book about introverts on the bestseller lists, or me reading and enjoying a bestseller.  But there you have it: I couldn't put this book down.  I have read other books about being an introvert before, but this one really seems to have struck a chord, not just with me but with everyone.

We are living in an extrovert-centric world.  Classrooms and businesses are designed around groupwork.  Extroverts are the ones who get ahead in business world.  But Cain argues that we need both types of people, introverts and extroverts, to run things.  The Wall Street crash probably wouldn't have happened if happy-go-lucky investors had listened to their cautious colleagues.  In a fascinating section of the book, Cain explains that extroverts get more of a rush out of the thrill of things like gambling, where introverts have more warning signals telling them to slow down.  More balance is definitely needed.  What's interesting is that studies show that when employees are unmotivated, extroverts do better as bosses, but where employees are motivated, introverts outperform extroverts as bosses.  The implication is that introverts are much more likely to listen and implement their employees' suggestions when they make sense, rather than forge ahead with their own ideas as extroverts do.

I can just imagine the countless number of introverts who may not have even realized they were introverts, reading about themselves for the first time and nodding along.  I was particularly fascinated by her description of sensitive people (70% of sensitives are introverts) and which I definitely count myself among the ranks.  Not only are sensitives born that way (studies showed 4-month old sensitive babies are more easily startled), but their skin is literally more sensitive to stimuli, any kind of stimuli.  Sensitive people don't crave excitement the same way, because less stimuli is actually enough for them.

If nothing else, introverts can finally feel validated that they're not freaks.  There's nothing wrong with being introverted, and it's not selfish to take time for yourself.  Not doing so can literally cause you to become sick.  As introverts, we have a lot to contribute to the world.  If only we could make our voices heard.

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