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

11 Jul

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop TalkingI just finished the audiobook of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. This book makes many interesting revelations by way of neuroscience (like another I just reviewed, Deep Survival), giving scientific insight into the myriad of reasons of why introverts and extroverts are the way they are.

I’ve always considered myself an ambivert – I have varying tendencies in different situations, so this detailed look at introversion was of particular interest to me. I’m not shy, and do enjoy public speaking, performing and experiencing the world – yet I’m very independently minded in my approach.

Much of Quiet seems to work at making introverts feel okay about who they are, which is understandable. But what I enjoyed more was how it made sense of the biological reasonings and structural evidence for this parallel of personalities. Consider this take on extroverts at dinner parties:

The ability to process a lot of short-term information at once without becoming distracted or overly stressed – this is just the sort of brain function extroverts tend to be well-suited for. In other words, extroverts are sociable because their brains are good at handling competing demands on their attention — which is just what dinner-party conversation involves. In contrast, introverts often feel repelled by social events that force them to attend to many people at once.

Compare this with the introvert perspective:

When introverts assume the observer role, as when they write novels, or contemplate unified field theory – or fall quiet at dinner parties – they’re not demonstrating a failure of will or lack of energy. They’re simply doing what they’re constitutionally suited for.

This is not to say that all introverts or  extroverts are the same categorically, and the book does stress this in several places. But that these are two different approaches due to a variety of factors, each valid in their own way, and each capable of benefitting by better understanding the other – a concept advanced by this book.

Introverts UNITE (separately)

This design available at printfection.com

Musical accompaniment – “Quiet” by the Smashing Pumpkins:

What do you think? Do you consider yourself an introvert or extrovert? Do you find advantages or disadvantages in either case? Let us hear from you in the comments.

4 Responses to “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”

  1. hannahenglandHannah England July 12, 2013 at 9:01 am #

    I read this book some time last year and as an introvert it gave me an explanation for something I’d been wondering about for years. I, like you, am not very shy – I love performing, I can tolerate public speaking and I have no problem being a leader and working in a fast-paced environment. But I’ve always been bad at double-tasking, preferring to give my full attention to one thing at a time; I hate going to crowded or loud places because it feels like the background buzz of noise drills into my head and makes it hard for me to concentrate; I love being with people, but only in small groups or I feel like I’m not able to give my attention when I should and it’s a bit overwhelming.

    Knowing that I process the world differently than extroverts is helpful. I used to be encouraged to be more extroverted, but that overwhelmed me and made me more introverted. Having embraced my introversion, I’m actually more able to function in certain situations because I know where the overwhelmed feeling is coming from. In fact, a lot of people are surprised when I tell them I’m an introvert 🙂

    Also, I liked that the book explained that shyness (fear of public judgement) and introversion (gain energy from being alone and give energy when not alone) are different. I’d always assumed that introverts were always shy so I was confused about whether I was an introvert (because I’m not shy) or an extrovert (because… well, I knew I wasn’t an extrovert!)

    • rsmithing July 12, 2013 at 3:29 pm #

      You are so right about the difference between “shy” and “introverted.” I see shyness as an attitude, whereas I believe intro/extroversion is a hard-wired personality trait – especially after learning about associated mental processes like sensitivity or reward-seeking tendencies outlined in the book. And I’m with you on giving full attention to work. As a graphic designer, I would regularly seek long uninterrupted periods to get work done. Not that I couldn’t function otherwise, but I’m just so much more productive that way. And I’m glad you’re not shy about commenting – thanks for stopping by!

  2. Susan P July 12, 2013 at 7:32 am #

    Thanks for the reblog. I like your blog, too.

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