Friday, May 11, 2012

Ode to Introverts

As an introvert, I appreciated Susan Cain's book Quiet:  The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking.   She points out that there are many different definitions of the introvert/extrovert dichotomy, but she mainly focuses on the belief that introverts and extroverts differ with regard to how much stimulation they need to function in their environments.  Cain points out some interesting trends in American culture, such as shift from what she calls a culture of character in which private, inner virtue was valued, to a culture of personality in which charm and gregariousness are now valued. She points out that introverts are not anti-social; rather, they are "differently social."  Cain also discusses how introverts and extroverts differ in terms of leadership as well as how they navigate the innovation process in business culture.  Rather than suggesting that introverts try harder to be more outgoing and in the spotlight, Cain points out that introverts are capable of acting in an extroverted manner for topics and people that they value.  She also points out the importance of creating what she calls "restorative niches," or places introverts can go to feel more comfortable after being in an overstimulating setting, and even says that if introverts try too hard to act in extroverted ways that are not natural to them, this can actually compromise their immune systems. 

She also makes some specific recommendations for how to support introverted children, such as exposing kids gradually to new situations and people, or bringing kids to parties early so that they can feel comfortable in the space.

Overall, this book is certainly an ode to introverts, and the particular qualities they bring to different situations in life and work.  It resonated with me immensely!

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