Are you the proverbial “life of the party,” flitting from this social function to that one, making friends everywhere you go? Or would you rather spend your time with only your close friends, or perhaps just alone reading or engaged in other solitary pursuits? At least one-third of us fall into the latter group, so chances are, if you aren’t an introvert yourself, you’re married to one, or you parent one, manage one, or are friends with one.
In Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, author (and self-described introvert herself) Susan Cain tackles the differences between introverts and extroverts in every aspect of our lives, from the workplace to social situations to school to home and family life. In her meticulously researched and compulsively readable book, Cain explains that while introverts are often labeled as shy at best or anti-social at worst, in fact, they just interact with the world differently than extroverts.
Extroverts draw energy from being around people, but for introverts that can be draining, and instead they need time alone to recharge. Using examples of famous introverts, from Rosa Parks to Steve Wozniak to Eleanor Roosevelt to Warren Buffett, Cain demonstrates how the quietest among us can be the bravest, the most thoughtful, and the most revolutionary.
Introverts prefer a few close friendships rather than being surrounded by lots of people. They like working alone versus working in groups, and enjoy concentrating on single tasks instead of trying to multi-task. In the modern workplace, introverts’ ability to think deeply and creatively and solve problems is a tremendous benefit. However, they can often be overlooked, thanks to a pervasive culture of “big personalities,” the willingness of extroverts to speak up more, and even the detriments that come with open-office floor plans. Cain’s book will convince you not to overlook the introverts around you any longer.
The book also includes advice for parents of introverts and for educators. So much of childhood for many introverted children consists of everyone around them trying to “bring them out of their shell.” While learning socialization skills is important, more focus and encouragement should be placed on their unique gifts and strengths. As someone who was never once made to feel bad about preferring reading alone to just about anything else (yep, I’m an introvert), I can tell you first-hand how valuable for a child that really is.
— LouAnn Lofton, firstname.lastname@example.org