Friday, June 7, 2013

Quiet The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain

Oh my, this book set some of our hair on fire and it has seems to have themes that will be popping up all year long.

Ms. Cain has researched and written an interesting book about some of the most powerful people in our collective history.  She writes generously about people like Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Charles Schwab, Gandhi, and Eleanor Roosevelt who have made enormous impacts on the world even though they would more likley prefer to spend time with a friend than attend a gala in their honor.

Ms. Cain theorizes that society tends to reward the likes of Tony Robbins' and Dale Carnegie over those of us who would rather eat our shoe than speak publicly.

It was interesting to go around the room and let each of us describe where we fall on the introvert / extrovert scale.  Many of us called ourselves ambiverts as we embrace  equal number of introvert and extrovert tendencies. (There was an assessment in the book.)   An ambivert is  likely to be excited to attend a party, but instantly wants to escape upon arrival if social groups have already formed.

The book describes several people and their experiences, the authors dread of public speaking, a parents attempts to help their 'shy' child and a married couple's struggle with how often to entertain.

Ms. Cain lost some of our members with her unflattering descriptions of extroverts.  As detailed as she was with the nuances of the varied introverts in our midst she surprised us with sweeping generalizations and statements to the effect that extroverts are easily distracted by bright shiny things, overconfident, impulsive, and prone to divorce.  Obviously there is more to her research regarding extroverts, but the minimal attention to positive traits was offensive to our most outspoken extrovert.  Of course as she started to loudly blather on about her indignation we dangled a silver Christmas ornament and a cookie and she quickly lost her train of thought.  See, she's an extrovert, but clearly not very bright.

The purpose of the book wasn't to delve into extroverts so perhaps we're misguided in getting lost in this point.

Towards the end of the book Ms. Cain gives some interesting advice to parents and educators regarding how introverts react differently to things like group projects.   She also gives tips for public speaking that are actually pretty good and don't start with "how to fake your own death to get out of talking to a crowd."

It's clear that one point is that we shouldn't count the quiet person out as a valuable contributor, because you never know what's going on with them: