Reading: Quiet by Susan Cain

on Misc  

Yup, I’m at home on a Saturday night with a glass of wine, writing a blog post.

Some of you might have read that and thought it was sad, or that I’d rather be out partying… but after a busy day I was actually looking forward to a quiet night in doing my own thing. This is possibly because, like a third to half of the population, I’m an introvert.

Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking is about how the workplace and classrooms (in the U.S.) are increasingly being set up around the “extrovert ideal” – team projects, brainstorming sessions, open-plan offices – and how this is necessarily the only or most effective setup. There’s also a lot of research into what makes people introverted – whether it’s ‘nature’ or ‘nurture’ or a mixture of both – and how introverts can get by and even thrive in this world.

I’ve known most of my life that I’m an introvert, but strangely it took reading this book to really accept and celebrate it. Yes, I do suffer from shyness and feel much more at home at a small dinner party than a nightclub, but there’s plenty of things that introverts do really well – things that require solitude, deep thought and creativity.

If you’re an introvert then you’ll probably read this book nodding and going “Yes! So it’s not just me!”. If you’re an extrovert, you’ll probably read it and understand why a quieter friend or your partner freaks out when you try to fill up their social calender or insist that they be more enthusiastic. The book is a little biased in parts but generally well researched and thought out, and even the more scientific parts are interesting and easy to read. I managed to plough through it in a couple of days, and really enjoyed it overall. I definitely recommend it, especially to all the introverts out there!

Here’s the quiz at the start of the book to give a rough idea of whether or not you’re an introvert. Answer ‘true’ or ‘false’ to these statements:

  1. I prefer one-on-one conversations to group activities.
  2. I often prefer to express myself in writing.
  3. I enjoy solitude
  4. I seem to care less than my peers about wealth, fame, and status.
  5. I dislike small talk, but enjoy talking in depth about topics that matter to me.
  6. People tell me that I’m a good listener.
  7. I’m not a big risk-taker.
  8. I enjoy work that allows me to “dive in” with few interruptions.
  9. I like to celebrate birthdays on a small scale, with only one or two close friends or family members.
  10. People often describe me as “soft-spoken” or “mellow”.
  11. I prefer not to show or discuss my work with others until it’s finished.
  12. I dislike conflict.
  13. I do my best work on my own.
  14. I tend to think before I speak.
  15. I feel drained after being out and about, even if I’ve enjoyed myself.
  16. I often let calls go through to voice mail.
  17. If I had to choose, I’d prefer a weekend with absolutely nothing to do to one with too many things scheduled.
  18. I don’t enjoy multitasking.
  19. I can concentrate easily.
  20. In classroom situations, I prefer lectures to seminars.

How did you do? I answered “true” to all 20 questions, so apparently I’m all introvert…

2 notes

  1. I’ve been interested in reading this since you and another commenter brought her up on my recent blog post. It sounds very interesting. I think some of those traits have always been within me and some others have developed as a result of seeking the best circumstances for me to thrive in with sensory disabilities (e.g. smaller gatherings rather than large ones). P.S. I love the idea of your midsummer and midwinter feasts!

  2. I really recommend it! If you enjoy the TED talk I have up at the top of the post, then you’ll definitely enjoy the book, which goes into the ideas and research in further detail.

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