In a world where outgoing confidence, having plenty to say and being expected to assert oneself in the marketplace and workplace are the “norm”, it’s refreshing to hear someone speak out for the introverts – those quieter people – who aren’t naturally up front. In Quiet – the Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking author Susan Cain does just this.
Quiet people tend to be introverts, and at least one third of the people we know are introverts. They prefer listening, they may not like speaking too much and when they do speak they will have considered their response rather than jump in spontaneously to say something.
As I read this book I became increasingly comforted by the fact that I’m an introvert. I don’t like to shoot my mouth off without a bit of reflection first; I prefer working alone and in silence and although I have worked in a team in an open plan office, I really found it distracting and not conducive to creative thought or productivity. Susan Cain’s input on these very issues resonated strongly with me. Starting from the Myers-Briggs concept of Introvert and Extrovert personality types, she outlines some of the traits the of the introvert in an interesting and very readable way.
Not all introverts are hermit-types or shut themselves away. Some are accomplished public speakers, but what they do need is essential down time after giving a talk, lecture or presentation, to recharge their batteries and offset the feelings of being drained. Many introverts who have to perform publicly can develop a public persona which they assume for the period of time needed to be “on stage”. She gives the example of a high-powered public speaker known to her who retreats to the bathroom and shuts himself into one of the cubicles in order to regain his personal recovery space.
Introverts can be very creative and inventive. Cain offers many examples of people who are content to beaver away alone in order to produce something which may benefit all. Here she discusses Chopin, Dr. Seuss and Steve Wozniak, all of them introverts who have contributed something to society.
This is not only an interesting but thought-provoking book, and if you wonder if you might be an introverted type, it will act as reassuring confirmation that all is OK for you to be just the way you are, too.