Having read many positive reviews from other bloggers, I have been intrigued by ‘Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking’ by Susan Cain for a long time. In a world which largely values extroversion and outgoing, gregarious personalities, it is refreshing to find a book which completely rejects all this. Introverts of the world will rejoice.
I myself am an introvert. I don’t thrive off being around people all the time. I need time for myself and I need time to mentally prepare myself for social events. I don’t have 1000 friends on Facebook. I am not a risk-taker. I don’t enjoy teamwork and I don’t believe it necessarily brings better results. The fact that I will probably have to deny all of this when filling out graduate job applications in the next few months seriously depresses me. ‘Quiet’, however, reminds me that I’m not alone.
Cain defines being an introvert separately from being shy, serious and sensitive. Even though these traits do often occur together or overlap, introverts can still have strong social skills but they may just not feel like being sociable all the time. Cain reminds us that some of our most celebrated inventors, writers and politicians are introverted by nature. She isn’t necessarily critical of extroverts but merely reminds us that introversion is often overlooked in a society which is generally geared towards the Extrovert Ideal.
Cain’s book itself is an accomplished and detailed piece of research which is still highly readable in spite of its thoroughness. It addresses a lot of different aspects of life as an introvert from childhood to the workplace and sends out a clear message that quieter personalities are not inferior and deserve recognition for the strengths they bring. The range of sources from anecdotes, case studies and references from scientific journals is particularly impressive. I do think, however, that human personality is extremely complex and introversion is just one of many aspects of it. Cain is sometimes guilty of overgeneralising the features of introversion. Not all introverts are naturally intuitive and not all extroverts are good at public speaking.
‘Quiet’ is not a self-help book but it should still be reassuring for any introverts out there, perhaps even a revelation for those who feel particularly misunderstood. However, this book isn’t just for those who prefer solitude – extroverts would also gain a lot of insight from reading it too.