Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
Have you ever heard the sound of silence? It’s hard to, in this extremely individualist world. The breathing of a forest or the quiet rehearsal of an artist preparing for an audition tend to get lost in the modern hubbub of phones, TVs, and computers.
Want to get the full book in Kindle version? Get it from here:
Susan Cain provides us with an instruction book on how to cope with introverts. I enjoyed reading this book very much, and I found it very liberating.
INTROVERTS’ VOICES / QUIET
“Words are potentially dangerous weapons that reveal things better left unsaid.”
Susan Cain is a former Wall Street attorney who made a very bold change, leaving her prosperous job to start a career in writing and psychology. She started out seeking answers to the common problems of professional life – like the fear of public speaking – but her curiosity about human behavior didn’t stop there. A decade of research later her first book, Quiet, has finally been published.
Quiet‘s purpose is to change the way we think about introverts. Research shows that almost half of people are introverts. And yet they tend to get overlooked, overshadowed by the louder extroverts. Cain believes society has a lot to gain from paying attention to the quiet ideas of the introverts.
Cain, herself an introvert, carried out enormous amounts of research in order to give us a better insight into her world. Introversion is an innate personality trait, characterized mostly by preferring to spend time alone; a desire for deep, meaningful conversation; a restricted social life; and a tendency to daydream.
The study of human psychology dates back to ancient times, yet in the 21st century we are still looking for ways to solve the problems facing introverts. According to Cain, these are some of the biggest challenges they face:
- inefficient school systems that encourage extroverts, focused more on speaking than thinking
- admittance to universities based on extrovert criteria, such as sports or social extra-curricular activities
- workplace organization that doesn’t include introverts’ needs
- the general public opinion about introversion
“We’re told that to be great is to be bold, to be happy is to be sociable.”
Western culture tends to promote wealth, power, and fearlessness as a fulfilled, successful life. Until 9/11 we thought we were unbeatable and our society superior to any other. This was the norm for all types of economic sectors, and everyday life too. Individuals acted in this belief, and then came the great crash of 2008.
“It was forceful extroverts who caused the global financial crash.”
In Quiet, Susan Cain compares Western and Eastern ways of thinking, acting, and living. Talking to first- and second-generation Asian immigrants established in the U.S.A., she determined that newcomers to the country are already beating locals in many fields. She believes this is because of the way they approach any scenario, mundane or extraordinary: carefully. Asian schools tend to encourage listening and thinking instead of talking, meaning Asian children grow up with a more sophisticated way of dealing with problems. It builds up their perseverance. Cain believes Americans see them as unequal competitors, in both academic and professional circles.
Unfortunately, academic performance is already affecting the professional work environment, too. People who were in school when the book was being written are now employees. Studies show the Millennial generation lacks basic skills such as literacy or, surprisingly – for a generation described as ‘digital natives’ – computer knowledge.
Quiet is divided into four chapters:
- The extrovert Ideal
- Your Biology, your Self?
- Do all Cultures have an Extrovert Ideal?
- How to love, how to work
Cain believes that as we can’t help where we are born, the color of our skin, or our personalities, we should accept who we are and make the best of it. Science can help us slightly by pinpointing our potential personalities from a young age, but without a proper environment to thrive in we may give up hope at some point. That is why leaders have a responsibility to represent the interests of everyone they are in charge of. Sometimes introverts end up as leaders; studies prove their work is just as efficient as their extrovert peers, even though their approach may be different.
Cain suggests we must seek – and find – solutions to help introverts thrive in a world ruled by extroverts. We must give them the right kind of tasks and the right amount of time they need to finish it. But the introverts must make efforts, too, and adapt their behavior by pushing themselves as much as possible.
She believes these are the best ways to involve introverts:
- Giving space to those who need time to think during group activites
- Acknowledging the quiet scientists, professionals or others, who may write the answer down instead of shouting it out loud
- Organizing small group activities or classes suitable for introverted children, or workplaces with flexible schedules
- Accepting and encouraging introverts’ actions, without judgment
- Listening to introverts’ opinions, no matter how contrasting they may be to your own
We may not be able to change the way some things work, and it’s not always possible to put an introvert in a job situation that requires an extrovert. But we can take an example from Eleanor Roosevelt or Rosa Parks – both introverts who learned to overcome their fears and speak up for what they believed in. Nature show us that every species has its own role in this mighty ecosystem, and we cannot judge the role that someone else plays in it.
“Introverts are offered keys to private gardens full of riches.”
Since Cain’s book was published in 2012 there have already been big changes made on the issue; the International Day of Introverts, celebrated on January 2, is now recognized. The fast-growing digital media offers a vast platform for introverts to make their voice heard too, in their own way.
After all, the most important thing in life is to enjoy it as best we can, so why not give the same opportunity to introverts, too?
Want to get the full book in Kindle version? Get it from here:
Want more nuggets? Subscribe below.