Sunday, 30 September 2012

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

It has taken me a while to finish Quiet. Not because I wasn't interested, but as is my way, I'm reading several books at once.

The non-fiction titles tend to take a backseat.
Especially at the moment with the classics taking up so much of my reading, thinking and blogging space.

But on Friday night, I was feeling a little overwhelmed by my busy, stimulating week and in desperate need for some quiet time to recharge...and it seemed only logically to pull Quiet off the pile of half-read books by my bed.

Quiet confirms and reaffirms all the stuff about being an introvert that I had picked up and worked out for myself over the years.

It gave me research, statistics, case studies and anecdotes that reflected who I was and my experience of the world.

As I read Quiet, I recognised my husband, my stepsons, my family and many of my friends and colleagues.

Over the years I believed that my level of introversion had shifted closer to the middle ground. After reading Quiet I wonder if I'm still as introverted as I ever was, but have simply learnt better coping mechanisms.

I have also developed pseudo-extrovert skills to get by in our society that views Extroverts as the Ideal. But these skills come at a price.
After being in extrovert mode for work or at a social gathering I then have to factor in downtime to compensate and recharge my batteries. If I go too long without downtime, I become grumpy, irritable, moody, impatient, cold, distant, incredibly tired and eventually ill.

I'll let Susan Cain explain what an introvert looks like:

"reflective, cerebral, bookish, unassuming, sensitive, thoughtful, serious, contemplative, subtle, introspective, inner-directed, gentle, calm, modest, solitude-seeking, shy, risk-averse, thin-skinned. Quiet is also about this person's opposite...ebullient, expansive, sociable, gregarious, excitable, dominant, assertive, active, risk-taking, thick-skinned, outer-directed, lighthearted, bold and comfortable in the spotlight....Few individuals identify fully with one or the other."

Quiet has provided my husband and I many opportunities to discuss our personalities and how we juggle our need for quiet with our social obligations. My colleagues have also talked about how we can provide quiet time at work when one of us is feeling over-stimulated!

Blogging has become the perfect way for this particular introvert to be "out there" without exhausting my social reserves. I suspect I'm not the only one :-)


8 comments:

  1. No, you're not the only one ;) I'm right there with you on the introvert scale. I'm so glad for books like this loaded with statistics to prove that we are just as valuable to society as extroverts but have been misunderstood and passed over for so long. I enjoyed reading it. Have you seen the author's TED talk?

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    1. Yes I did Trish and I was going to reference it in my blog but forgot!! Thanks for the reminder - the TED talk was inspiring too.

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  2. I really enjoyed this book. I have three introverted kids and this book gave me a lot of great information to help them with school and with friends.

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    1. I'm so glad Anne - I wish I had read something like this when I was younger - school was definitely NOT the "best years of my life". It's one of the reasons why I'm such a reader - books were my escape mechanism from a world on overdrive.

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  3. I agree that this book is very reassuring and useful for introverts. I really enjoyed reading it, and was certainly able to see a lot of myself in it as well! So true that introverts need some representaion and support, even still.

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  4. I REALLY need to read this book! I call myself a "functioning" introvert - at work, most people are surprised to learn that I test as an introvert on the Myers Briggs. But I know that being "on" at work takes it out of me.

    There is a real power in being an introvert which I think lies in the ability to observe and process which some extroverts just can't do.

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    1. Yes, Quiet will validate everything you've just said with a bit of science and psychology lingo to back it up!

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  5. I have got to read this book. I had read about it earlier, then it went off my radar. My whole immediate family is introverts (husband, son, myself) and at my age it is a little late to worry about it but any insights would help.

    Yes, I am sure a lot of bloggers are introverts who want to reach out in a safe way.

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