I’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.