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It’s one thing to know you’re an introvert. It’s another thing entirely to know why and how it affects your behavior.
This is what Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking has done for me. Part psychology study, part story, Quiet is a book I could not put down. And for non-fiction and me, that’s rare. Nearly every time I opened the book, I was hit with a new revelation about myself and my behavior. Meticulously researched, Cain writes in a way that is engaging and entertaining, not at all dry.
I don’t know at what age I started identifying myself as an introvert, but at least in my adult life, it’s something I’ve pretty much always accepted. And it’s sometimes felt limiting. Like I couldn’t speak or lead or teach or make a real difference in the world because of my personality.
Cain’s book is an encouraging and empowering look at how introverts can make a difference because of, not in spite of, how they’re wired. We don’t have to be more like extroverts to be heard. For me, that is good news.
Quiet does not elevate introverts at the expense of extroverts, either. Cain emphasizes the need for both types to work together and not for one to become more like the other. Being an introvert is often seen as a weakness or defect in some professions, and Cain proposes that introverts can be an asset, even in those arenas that seem to favor extroverts. She also encourages introverts to find balance. If they have a job that requires more extroverted behavior, then they need to find balance by staying home at night more often or finding quiet time in the midst of the day. Even the floor plan and layout of desks in an office can affect an introvert’s mood and productivity.
When I worked as a newspaper reporter, I found myself playing extrovert daily. Phone calls. Interviews. Four-desk pods instead of cubicles. I see now that I would have been more effective, confident and satisfied in my job if I’d found these areas of balance Cain suggested.
Quiet is an invaluable resource for introverts and extroverts. For introverts, it’s encouraging and empowering. For extroverts, it’s eye-opening. I’d recommend it for either group, especially if you’re an extrovert leading an organization or are in a marriage between an introvert and extrovert. I learned some new things about my husband, an extrovert, and how we can better navigate our relationship. Cain includes insights and tips for parenting, too, which I found helpful. I believe we’re raising one of each–an extroverted daughter and an introverted son–and how we parent them will be different based on how we, the parents, are wired, too.
Overall, I call it a must-read. Period.
A note about Grammarly: I first encountered Grammarly because of its clever writing-, word- and grammar-related posts on Facebook. I was offered a free trial and compensation in exchange for the text ad at the top of this post. I used the service on this post to check for grammar and plagiarism issues. The first time, I chose the wrong style of writing for review. There are six types to choose from; I picked “business” first which gave me a horrible rating. The second time around, I chose “casual,” which much more suits the style of this post. Better. I haven’t yet used Grammarly extensively, but I like the idea of it, especially if you’re writing a lot of papers. Check it out. It certainly won’t substitute for a human set of proofreading eyes, but it seems like a good second set of eyes. I’ve got a degree in communication and Grammarly is something I’d seriously consider as part of my writing toolbox.