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

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This is a non-fiction book about the differences between introverts and extroverts.

She begins by pointing out that for many years this country has emphasized extroversion as the ideal. If you (like me) are an introvert, this is incredibly annoying.

The overall theme of this book is that no, it’s not wrong to be an introvert, and NO, teaching your introverted children to behave like extroverts is not as beneficial as you might think and actually, you know, there are advantages to introversion, too.

I appreciated very much that she emphasized that introversion is not the same as shyness, nor is it the same as being anti-social. Those things sometimes go with introversion but not always.

I’m an introvert, as is my husband and our new baby (she describes a test for introversion given to 4 months old, which is the age my child is and he is definitely an introvert) but I don’t think you would describe either my husband or myself as shy. Nor are we anti-social, although we do limit our social activities because we find them draining.

Of course, even at four months old, the baby is being expected to perform as an extrovert. When we’re out and about and strangers talk to him, he often refuses to smile back and prefers to look at high-contrast items instead of strange people, and the strangers frequently ask what is wrong with him that he doesn’t want to smile at them.

When we see his extended family, he gets tired easily and needs to take breaks in another room, and they try to be nice about it but are definitely offended.

She says in her book to look for outside forms of socialization for introverted children, as school is not designed to benefit these kids socially, and they need to find activities that allow them to engage at the level at which they feel comfortable. Not only is that a solid idea for children, introverted adults should think about doing the same.

This book defends the idea of introverts as just as good as extroverts, not damaged in any way. It also gives explanations of the differences between introversion, shyness and anti-social behavior. It also argues that introverts have value that extroverts lack–they can see details and focus on their environments in a more detailed way than many extroverts do.

If you are an introvert, you should read this book. If you live with an introvert, or work closely with people, you should also read this book. It will give you a more complete understanding of what it means to be an introvert.

 

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