Introverts are often indirectly told that their very way of being is a ‘condition’ or a ‘shell’ out of which they need to emerge. Susan Cain explores the fallacy of this and other beliefs about the introverted temperament in her fascinating book Quiet: The Power Of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking. Introversion is a preference for environments that are not overstimulating; many introverts are even quite sensitive to sights, sounds, smells, pain, and coffee. Extroverts recharge their batteries by socializing, while introverts recharge by being alone.
The author explains the benefits of an introverted temperament, not to claim superiority over extroversion, but simply to assert the inherent value of the introvert in a culture that, for the past century, has highly valued, promoted, and rewarded extroversion. Cain discusses America’s shift (in the early 1900s) from a Culture of Character to a Culture of Personality. Later, Cain presents evidence that a large proportion of the most beloved and successful leaders of social movements or admired heads of corporations displayed strong introvert characteristics: from Gandhi and Rosa Parks, to Stephen Wozniak of Apple. “Because of their inclination to listen to others and lack of interest in dominating social situations, introverts are more likely to hear and implement suggestions” (57).
Cain also discusses the benefits of ‘introverted’ environments; for example, creation and innovation most often spring from solitude, not collaboration. Online collaboration was an interesting and singular exception to this rule, allowing people to work in solitude, to unleash their creativity, and to submit their work and ideas in a medium that also allows them to engage and disengage at will.
I highly recommend this book if you, as an introvert, would like to understand yourself more, or if you, as an extrovert, want to understand better a spouse, child, or other loved one. The book is about appreciating the qualities and gifts that introverts have to offer, and how to use that understanding to fully value and meaningfully connect with one another.
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