Reads to Rewrite Your Life 2: Quiet – Susan Cain

Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking by Susan Cain is a book which celebrates people who are often ignored by society. Those of us who will happily chatter away to friends but clam up when trying to make small talk with a stranger. Those of us who will never be described as the life and soul of a party. Those of us who get shoved aside by people with louder voices. Cain points out that whereas extroverts are lauded, the advantages wielded by introverts are disregarded – and it’s time that changed.

Cain uses scientific experiments, case studies and her own experiences to illustrate the strengths and opportunities of introversion. She discusses how Steve Wozniak and Warren Buffett found success because of their introvert nature, not in spite of it. She compares extroverted cultures, like Harvard Business School, with introverted cultures, such as the majority of Asian communities. She includes a lot of information on how extroverts and introverts can relate to each other without conflict. In short, Quiet is a fascinating and incredibly helpful study of introverts.

Quiet separates introversion from traits which get mixed up with it: many introverts are shy, for example, but shyness is not an indicator of introversion. Introverts gain energy from being alone and feel drained by highly social situations. They tend to feel over-stimulated in noisy, crowded environments. They are accused of being “in their head” too much – though Cain points out that this is simply called being a thinker. Because introverts find it difficult to express themselves in groups, they are often accused of being slow, stupid and lazy, or are overlooked.

Knowing your tendencies as an introvert is valuable. Cain provides advice on how you can play to your strengths and work (or socialise) more effectively. She considers how different environments impact introverts and how these environments might be adapted. She teaches us how to compromise and when to change our behaviour to advocate for something we believe in. She describes how the internet presents new opportunities for introverts, allowing us to communicate to a lot of people without having to shout over the crowd.

After a lifetime of being told to be more extroverted, Quiet is refreshing and empowering. It reminds us that introverts are valuable members of society and can contribute a great deal to the world. Cain also gives plenty of guidance on how to be an introvert in a world which often seems to have been designed for extroverts. If you are an introvert yourself or have close friends or family members (especially children) who are introverts, I would consider this book essential reading.

 

About the Reads to Rewrite Your Life series

This series discusses books which have helped to change my perspective on life. Many will be self-help guides, some will be classics and others will be a little different… I aim to provide an eclectic mix to inspire everyone, regardless of whether or not you have mental health issues.

  1. Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway – Susan Jeffers
  2. Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking – Susan Cain
  3. The How of Happiness – Sonja Lyubomirsky
  4. The Art of Non Conformity – Chris Guillebeau
  5. Wherever You Go, There You Are – Jon Kabat-Zinn
  6. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
  7. Undoing Depression – Richard O’Connor