Book #34 – Quiet

I’ve got a book for you. I read Quiet by Susan Cain (book #34). It is a nice and thorough review of being introverted, backed up with countless sources and studies she mentions in the text and at the back of the book. I thought it was stellar. Cain touched on all I could have hoped for and more. My favorite points she made were: that introverted people aren’t necessarily shy – it’s just that in our current extrovert-friendly world, upon the surface, a shy introvert, calm introvert, and shy extrovert (yes, that is possible) all look the same. That in the era of classical music and pre-industrial revolution, we lived in the Culture of Character; in those times, people were praised for working hard at honing skills and reading books and being quiet and thinking (aka introverted-like). Once the work place shifted from trade and apprenticeship (i.e. getting to know your employer, customers, trade, etc. personally) to retail and what it is today (i.e. showing your self on a piece of paper and first impression), we switched to the Culture of Personality, or society based on judging performance. Kids are now cultivated to think being studious, comfortable alone, and a listener is awkward and wrong.

Another good point was that introverted types tend to favor deep conversation first and small talk last. That was revolutionary for me; I realized why I am never in the social loop with everybody – I never talk about that stuff! My conversations just naturally gravitate toward inner thoughts and opinions on things and the world. I know more about what people think and perceive about a myriad of things than who they have a crush on or what their neighbor said to them yesterday. That may also be why people tend to shy away from certain topics with me because they fear I am “too deep” (maybe they’re just “too shallow”, hmm?).

Since everyone is different – and labels sometimes are more confusing than just getting to know someone personally (ahem!) – there are different levels of extroversion and introversion, which have to do with almost everything: different situations (someone might be comfortable singing karaoke at a party, but the next day shiver with fear at a presentation for her company), personal traits (shy, outgoing, opinionated, conservative, etc.), household (maybe she lives in a house of obnoxious boys and she’s the only girl child). A good thing for introverts to do is to inwardly gauge their comfort level in different situations and bear in mind that a solitary recharge is vital, and to consciously give themselves one.

A last good point is that we’re all different. The book wasn’t meant to take down extroverts, by any means. Sure, you could argue “where is the book showing the positives of extroversion?”, but I would counter with “Think of what you’re saying: a book about extroverts. Why would an extrovert want to read – ALONE – about what’s so great about being socially-stimulated? That’s hardly stimulating at all.” Introverts and extroverts naturally balance each other out. Cain referred to a study done that paired introverts with introverts, introverts with extroverts and extroverts with extroverts, and had them review the conversations they had with each. Each one had a positive thing to say about their chats. The world, as cliched as it sounds, needs differences like these. Extroverts need some people to sit down with quietly sometimes, and talk deeply. Introverts need some people to go out on the town with sometimes, and be outgoing. Extroverts (and everyone, really) enjoy a good listener (not someone who is just rallying with them for the spotlight), and introverts enjoy entertainment (we don’t want to be alone and reading all the time). Just at different levels. The main thing is that it’s important to observe and get to know everyone you have a relationship with – family, friends, romances, employees, coworkers, bosses, students, etc. Cain shows why this is important for bosses to take into consideration to have a streamlined workplace – if you could give the job of networking to an extrovert, why would you give it to an introvert? If you could give the job of writing a research article to an introvert and an interview with a celebrity to an extrovert, why would to give it to the other one? Granted, there is a lot more things to take into consideration, but you catch my drift; and that is just my point, and Susan Cain’s point. Everyone’s different, and if you just assume things about him or her, or make judgements and labels for people’s surfaces, you’d be risking being wrong.

 

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