Quiet: The Power of In­tro­verts in a World That Can’t Stop Talk­ing – Su­san Cain

The Star (St. Lucia) - - BOOK REVIEW - By Clau­dia Elei­box

Well, one would think that the ti­tle would be the de­cid­ing fac­tor of whether the book is worth a shot or to be com­pletely dis­missed but, hon­estly, I picked it up be­cause of the per­fec­tion of the cover page. No thoughts of me be­ing an in­tro­vert or ex­tro­vert were present, just the soft, grey back­ground and the word “Quiet” printed in bold, con­trary red. Of course, as I started read­ing, im­me­di­ately I was con­sid­er­ing which cat­e­gory I fall un­der. By the time every­one around was ask­ing what I was read­ing and whether or not I’m an in­tro­vert, I de­cided I am to some ex­tent, and this book is for me.

Su­san Cain records her ex­pe­ri­ences, ob­ser­va­tions and re­search as an in­tro­vert, sur­rounded by ex­tro­verts. Al­though this book is tar­geted at in­tro­verts in the United States, most of the in­for­ma­tion is rel­e­vant to any in­tro­vert.

She ex­plains that one-third to a half of most pop­u­la­tions is in­tro­verted but in to­day’s so­ci­ety, which she calls the “Ex­tro­vert Ideal”, in­tro­verts are forced to live com­pet­i­tive or masked life­styles. The “Ex­tro­vert Ideal” sim­ply means the be­lief that to be suc­cess­ful, like­able, ap­pre­ci­ated or a good leader one needs to be well-spo­ken, bril­liant at multi-task­ing, very con­fi­dent, out­go­ing and so­cia­ble. This, of course, poses a chal­lenge to peo­ple who are bet­ter at lis­ten­ing, work­ing in soli­tude, and pre­fer to be in the back­ground of the noise, ie the in­tro­verts. But how in­sane is it to be­lieve that peo­ple with those char­ac­ter­is­tics could make valu­able con­tri­bu­tions to a work­ing en­vi­ron­ment, com­mu­nity or so­ci­ety?

Su­san Cain’s book is an ar­gu­ment propos­ing that in­tro­verts do have their place and add value in this world. Some of the great­est in­ven­tors, com­puter ge­niuses, writ­ers, ac­tivists and artists were proven in­tro­verts, such as Rosa Parks, who she be­gins with, Dr. Seuss and Vin­cent van Gogh.

In the early part of the book she con­trasts at­ti­tudes of so­ci­ety be­fore the 1920s with the pe­riod af­ter, all the way to present day. In times gone by it was com­pletely ac­cept­able to be an in­tro­vert, dur­ing the era of the “Cul­ture of Char­ac­ter” when so­ci­ety be­lieved in be­ing more re­served and morals were most im­por­tant. Around the end of the 1920s “Char­ac­ter of Per­son­al­ity” started, where hav­ing a full, vi­brant per­son­al­ity be­came more im­por­tant. Ac­cord­ing to Cain the be­gin­ning of that era pro­duced Dale Carnegie, au­thor of “How to Win Friends and In­flu­ence Peo­ple”, the Toast­mas­ter Club, and the self-help/con­fi­dence in­dus­try.

This book is filled with ideas and meth­ods to help in­tro­verts sur­vive in the hus­tle and bus­tle of to­day. It re­as­sures the in­tro­vert that they are not weird and should not be forced to live against their na­ture. It teaches how to deal with ex­tro­verts and how to over­come cer­tain fears and stig­mas that are im­me­di­ately as­so­ci­ated with in­tro­ver­sion. Of course, the book is bi­ased to a de­gree against ex­tro­verts for mak­ing in­tro­verts feel un­com­fort­able or in­valu­able; how­ever, it could be quite an eye-opener for ex­tro­verts.

‘Quiet’ pre­sents in­sight on how in­tro­verts think, re­late, love, teach and work which, in turn, teaches ex­tro­verts how to ap­pre­ci­ate the in­tro­vert in or­der to help cre­ate bet­ter en­vi­ron­ments for both. It’s cer­tainly an in­ter­est­ing read, no mat­ter where you fall. ‘Quiet: The Power of In­tro­verts in a World That Can’t Stop Talk­ing’ is avail­able from The bookYard, Star Pub­lish­ing Com­pound, Mas­sade, Gros Islet.

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