At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over working in teams. It is to introverts—Rosa Parks, Chopin, Dr. Seuss, Steve Wozniak—that we owe many of the great contributions to society.
In Quiet, Susan Cain argues that we dramatically undervalue introverts and shows how much we lose in doing so. She charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal throughout the twentieth century and explores how deeply it has come to permeate our culture. She also introduces us to successful introverts—from a witty, high-octane public speaker who recharges in solitude after his talks, to a record-breaking salesman who quietly taps into the power of questions. Passionately argued, superbly researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how they see themselves.
Things I knew about myself before reading this book:
- I hate small talk, but I love spending hours in deep conversations with close friends or family members.
- I have a huge fear of public speaking and prefer to express myself in writing.
- When I worked in a building with other people around (before I worked from home), I used to close my office door to "get work done." I never understood how everyone else ever got anything done when they were hanging out and talking all day.
- I would rather spend an entire Saturday by myself (or with my family) than "out with the girls."
- I hate answering my phone unless it's my husband or a handful of people I know will only keep me on the phone for a few minutes.
What I learned about myself from reading this book:
I am an introvert!
Okay, so I would have described myself as an introvert even before reading this book, but it gave me a new understanding of what it means to be an introvert.
In Quiet, Cain writes about introversion in the workplace, in the school system and in relationships, and she discusses parenting/teaching an introverted child. She talks about how introverts are perceived by the outside world and what is really going on inside those heads.
Even though I was absolutely fascinated by the book, there were just two things I wish she would have covered more about:
1) Statistics on introversion. She mentions that 1/3 to 1/2 of the population is introverted, but I'm also curious about statistics specifically on introverted people, i.e. gender and birth order.
2) Being an introverted parent with an extroverted child/children. After reading this book, I've decided I now need to go find a book on this topic! Let me know if you have any recommendations!
If you are (or think you might be) an introvert or if you are married to an introvert, this book is a must-read.