Thursday, June 21, 2012

Quiet by Susan Cain

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking  by Susan Cain

Being an introvert I found myself naturally drawn to this book (I know, some of you who have met me are saying, seriously? But yes, I am a hard core introvert at heart, and Mr Briggs Myers confirms this emphatically) Susan Cain describes introverts as the people who are quieter, the observers, self-contained, who recharge their batteries in and find their strength in being alone. Who don't like being over-stimulated. Who are more the listeners than the talkers in the world. We prefer to problem solve by ourselves than in a group. (Many writers are introverts, and like me never let anyone see our work until it is finished.) But in the modern world everything seems geared to the extroverts, the talkers, the movers and shakers. Workplaces are open plan, with their endless noise and interruption, supposedly for team play and cross pollination of ideas, hustle and bustle. Classrooms are organised for group learning. That socially we're expected to mingle, party, socialise, feel energised and love that environment. (I'm the one at noisy parties who goes outside to have a quiet, overwhelmed cry, before heading back in, and I'm always one of the first to leave) For an introvert, it's a tough prospect.

In this book Susan Cain talks about the strengths of the introverts . She uses the example of Steve Wozniack, co-founder of Apple, she talks about business people and leaders who are highly successful because they harness their strengths - observing, listening, being very considered before acting. She comes at it from a more cultural point of view, although she cites a lot of research and also looks at the physiological differences between extroverted and introverted people, and what it means for learning and working environments. It also had a very helpful section on what to consider if you have an introverted child.

I found it explained a lot about why I react like I do to certain situations, and how I've adapted to operate in all worlds. It's a great book for introverts, of course, but would also be helpful for extroverts trying to understand their introverted partners/ children/ work colleagues, and valuable for employers and managers in the work place. She doesn't put down extroverts, but rather recognises the difference and that the world definitely needs both. But the strengths of the introvert need to be recognised at many levels in society, from the country's leaders to the class room leaders, to the employers, and of course, by the introverts themselves!


Anonymous said...

Vanda - That sounds like a really interesting book!! Thanks for sharing.

Joanne said...

Great review! And as I'm an introvert, I bought the book straight after your chat with Jim Mora on National radio.