Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking

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6a00e55455c9358833017ee8b313a1970d-200wiI’ve just finished Quiet – The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking, by Susan Cain. It’s a fabulous feel good book for introverts and I can’t stop thinking about it.

The premise is that while introverts make up 1/3 to 1/2 of the population, society is biased towards extroversion. Introversion is not just about being shy (shyness is fear of social judgement). Extroverts crave lots of stimulation, while Introverts do better in quieter environments. This of course is not an absolute, but a truth in general.

The snag is of course is that our most important institutions – schools and workplaces – are designed for extroverts.

This description of Susan’s book (from the TED website), really got me thinking: “In a culture where being social and outgoing are prized above all else, it can be difficult, even shameful, to be an introvert.”

Notice I said thinking. I consider myself an introvert. One of my early memories is of being in Kindergarten in California (aged 6). To celebrate the end of the year, our teacher organised a disco. The idea was that she played loud music, and we all went to the center of the classroom and went crazy. I remember watching, as one by one my little friends got up, went to the dance floor, and waved their hands, giggled and gyrated wildly. I remember sitting in a chair on the sidelines, feeling very uncomfortable and wanting to go outside with my friend Dena to play jump rope.

Quiet has given me a new view of introversion. Backed up by loads of research, and very readable (some of these kinds of books are dry, dry, dry) Quiet is enlightening and a pleasure to read.

Watch Susan’s TED talk (viewed by nearly 4 million):

I can’t stop thinking about this book. I also can’t stop talking about it! If you are an introvert, or you have a partner or child that is “quiet”, you need to read it.

Take the quiz: Where do you fit on the introvert/extrovert scale?

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14 Comments

  1. 10/04/2014 / 21:10

    I think this will be a book I will forever be dipping into to re-read as it really resonated with me too. x

  2. 15/03/2014 / 09:31

    I am an introvert that has an extrovert hidden deep inside. Occasionally I appear bold and brave, but shy is how I mainly am.

  3. 05/11/2013 / 06:29

    I completely respect children that are introverts and have designed my parties to cater for all hence why I have an art and crafts table and zone the toys, parents are encouraged to join in. Many children are shy and it is more respected than when we reached adulthood. Please check out http://www.blueyandbaloo.blogspot.com and thanks for a thought provoking article.

  4. 23/10/2013 / 06:32

    I score quite highly on the introvert scale. I’ve always found that people confuse it with a self esteem issue but I’m completely happy with myself and have no confidence issues. I simply don’t like the noise and company that many others enjoy. After large parties or events, I crave a couple of hours of peace and quiet just to get over them as I feel like I’ve almost had to perform which I find exhausting. Definitely going to read the book.

  5. 09/10/2013 / 16:23

    This book sounds great. I’ve been told before that I’m a public introvert and a private extrovert. I cringe (to the point that it feels painful) if Im asked to give a talk, or walk into a crowded room, yet in a small group or with my Family/Friends I’m considered a complete extrovert. Interesting post x

  6. Susanna
    17/03/2013 / 20:06

    There is an introvert/extrovert scale (I don’t know much about it) but I think that people fall somewhere on it, and can lean more towards one or the other. I like that you can find your “inner” introvert. Thanks for sharing your story of how you coped. x

  7. 07/03/2013 / 22:21

    Thanks for reminding me of the many reasons why I want to buy this book. Heard her on R4’s Today couple of weeks ago and she was SO inspiring.

  8. Susanna
    07/03/2013 / 06:46

    The book is great if you have a partner or children that has a different personality than you (as they sometimes can be!). And, you are SOOO and extrovert. That’s what I love about you. x

  9. Susanna
    07/03/2013 / 06:45

    Same with me 😀 The good thing is now I feel vindicated and comfortable with those traits. There’s nothing wrong with me! x

  10. Susanna
    07/03/2013 / 06:38

    You especially will love this book Michelle. x

  11. Honestmum
    28/02/2013 / 16:20

    Such an interesting post and TED talk, thank you for sharing. I’m a natural extrovert but my husband, an introvert and this reminded me how important it is to respect and nurture people’s differences. Speaking from my experience, I know the expectation is that Greeks are mostly extrovert and loud yet the saying ‘quiet Greek’ is indicative of many. Such food for thought on how society, culture, others’ preconceptions affect our personalities and behaviour.

  12. This is really interesting Susanna and I remember you and I talking about this book. I can’t wait to read it as I know I’m a ‘highly sensitive introvert’ and as I’ve only recently discovered this label for myself, I’m finding reading about the subject really enlightening (and REALLY helpful in explaining a lot of things!).

  13. 25/02/2013 / 06:46

    Strange, but I found quiet and peace in becoming an extrovert. While I easily public speak to 5000 people from a stage, if I walk into a room with people shouting “SURPRISE” I want to die and have the floor swallow me up. That shy, introvert person immediately appears.

    But then I discovered people left me alone when I was more ‘out there’. The constant ‘What’s the matter’ and ‘Why aren’t you joining in?’ and ‘Are you sure everything’s okay?’ magically stopped.

    And if I doubted this formula, when Bronnie died the same thing happened again. People started to leave me alone when ‘HerMelness’ was born. Everyone drew a collective sigh of relief that Mel seemed to be ‘okay’ and the constant drive-bys with food and sympathy and trying to get into my head diminished. I regained my much prized privacy.

    I helped some painfully shy bloggers with the same technique last year where they too needed the noise in their life to stop. One of them may even try public speaking!

    I will share this excellent post.

  14. Oh this is interesting Susanna. I just picked up the book, too – haven’t started it yet but it’s good to read a review. People find it hard to believe I’m an introvert because I appear quite outgoing, but social interaction exhausts me and I crave silence and solitude. Really looking forward to reading it now, even more.