“Introversion- along with its cousins sensitivity, seriousness, and shyness- is now a second-class personality trait, somewhere between a disappointment and a pathology. Introverts living in the Extrovert Ideal are like women in a man’s world, discounted because of a trait that goes to the core of who they are. Extroversion is an enormously appealing personality style, but we’ve turned it into an oppressive standard to which most of us feel we must conform.” – Susan Cain
Extroverts might not relate to it as much
Wow did I love this one, which I devoured and soon added to my shelf of favorites.
We’re all familiar with the usual binaries that divide us: male versus female; black versus white; rich versus poor; and so on. But I think part of what makes Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of the Introvert in a World That Can’t Stop Talking so unique is that she exposes a different binary that may have slipped more under the radar: introverted versus extroverted.
That’s not to say that everyone is neatly boxed into one or the other (rather, introversion/extroversion runs along more of a continuum); however, our culture has exalted extroverted traits to such a degree as to label those who enjoy solitude as pathological or, at the very least, undesirable.
But in Cain’s book, she offers a new way of looking at things, and details a coherent and well-researched argument in favor of the benefits of introversion, a trait often far too undervalued in Western cultures. To make her point, she skillfully weaves together a number of observations regarding the growing bias we often have towards extraversion in the school, workplace, and even our personal lives with the vast amount of research she completed in order to write the book.
So if you consider yourself an introvert (or if you’ve always secretly resented group projects and forced social situations), I’d highly recommend this relatable book. Even if you aren’t so introverted yourself, any individual in a position of leadership would benefit from learning how to place more value on individuals who aren’t naturally geared towards group work, team projects, or highly social activities.
If nothing else, this book definitely made me feel more comfortable about choosing to stay in on a Friday night or to looking forward to spending a day alone reading.
For a preview of Cain’s work, I’d recommend checking out her TED Talk. You can also read a a free excerpt of her book here.