“Mark this well, ye proud men of action! Ye are, after all, nothing but the unconscious instruments of the men of thought!” – Heinrich Heine
The superb New York Times Bestseller Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking is a must read for anyone who’s ever been told to come out of their shell.
Susan Cain, a former Wall Street Lawyer and honours graduate of the crucible Harvard Law School, and an avowed introvert, gives us permission to be who we are, to remain cerebral and shy. Though she tells us that shy is the new four letter word.
Our world is overrun by extroverts and undue value is placed on boldness and quick wit. We are taught, from an early age, that to be successful is to be social, and that we should be energised by the constant barrage of stimulation that our universe throws at us. But Cain succinctly illustrates that not only are there more introverts out there than we may be ready to admit – one third to one half of the people you know are introverts – but that the current groupthink mentality of business and higher education is in err, at least in part.
Our culture – western culture that is – seems to pride itself on boisterous and gregarious behaviours, even though a good portion of our population is uncomfortable with it. We have taught ourselves that singular pursuits and introspective hobbies are undesirable, even though many of the world’s greatest advancements in science and technology have been the result of the passions of those people who preferred quiet solitude and concentration.
Quiet is wonderfully researched and provides insights into the psychology of introversion, which apparently is the product of high-reactive nervous systems, as counterintuitive as that may seem. Cain illustrates the differences between introversion and extroversion, well known terms that, surprisingly, have been ill-understood by the greater business community in America and western culture. She provides insightful case studies exemplifying the best and worst of each personality type.
The reader can’t help but come away from the book with a deeper understanding of the issues faced by people who, through no fault of their own, feel like they don’t fit into the outgoing and charismatic segment of society that seems to control our world. Throughout the book Cain offers strategies and techniques introverts can use to better adapt to the world that won’t stop talking. She implores educators to adapt their teaching plans to accommodate the sensitive as well as the social. And she attempts to teach the extrovert to both identify the introverts in their lives and to relate to them in terms that will foster greater connections and interpersonal understanding.
This book is valuable to both personality types, as Cain points out that most of us exist along a spectrum of sensitivity, and that there are elements of both in all of us. Quiet has been a smashing success and it fulfills a need in the literature on personality research. It is an instant classic worthy of continued attention.
Join the Quiet Revolution at www.thepowerofintroverts.com
Susan Cain. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking. Crown Publishers (2012) ISBN-10: 978-0-307-35215-6