Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
Amazon Best Books of the Month, January 2012: How many introverts do you know? The real answer will probably surprise you. In our culture, which emphasizes group work from elementary school through the business world, everything seems geared toward extroverts. … see full wiki
Which people do we value in society? Which people do we acclaim in schools? What skills promise a life of value and success, and how has that changed over time? According to Susan Cain, about a third of Americans are “quiet.” We are introverts—the buzz and excitement of a party may not terrorize us, but it does leave us drained. We go home to recover when the show’s over, while our extrovert friends, enlivened by all the excitement, go on to party elsewhere. And we can succeed, but in a world, or at least a country, that doesn’t value our quietness, we struggle to respect our own strengths instead of concentrating on our weaknesses. Have you ever wondered why so much of a student’s score in class comes from group projects and classroom interaction? What about the good old days when grades depended on measurable learning? If you’re like me, you’ve certainly known students who get straight As on their homework but score a C in the class, because they’re “shy.” Have you ever wondered why we waste so much time adoring the stars of Hollywood, or demanding our politicians shine like rock stars? Or have you stopped to think how the Warren Buffets and Steve Jobs of our world are actually a) hugely successful because they’re b) supremely intelligent introverts? Author Susan Cain goes on a journey not just through the psychology books, but also through Harvard Business School, a super-hyped up Tony Robbins Experience, even Saddleback Evangelical church (in a section entitled Does God Love Introverts), and the internet. Surprisingly, the internet, with its lack of boundaries and fully invaded privacy, presents the place where introverts thrive just as much as extroverts, and the instinct to stop and think before responding is a recognizable advantage. Broken marriages, lost jobs, lonely children, or relationships mended, freedom and success, children who find their way after all, all illustrate the theme. In the end the author reminds us “love is essential; gregariousness is optional.” We don’t all have to live in our comfort zones, but we might need to retreat to them once in a while. And the world needs the quietly considered strength of Rosa Parks just as much as it needs the speeches of Martin Luther King Jr. A pleasingly readable book, teaching through experience, sharing a journey, and leading to a place where extrovert and introvert just might be able to recognize value in each other, Quiet is the sort of book you’ll quietly recommend to many, and I’m certainly glad I got to read it.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
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