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