Last month, I read Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain, a non-fiction book about how introversion is misunderstood and undervalued in our society that glorifies being social and outgoing.
It’s estimated that a third to half of people are introverts. Introverts’ energy gets drained when they spend too much time with other people; extroverts’ energy gets drained when they spend too much time alone. Introverts are quiet, thoughtful listeners who prefer solitude; extroverts are talkative, energetic socialites. Contrary to popular belief, introverts aren’t necessarily shy, though some are.
Cain uses anecdotes and scientific studies to show that we are really limiting our potential by overlooking introverts.
This will probably come as no surprise to those who know me — I’m an introvert. I would much rather stay at home with a book than go out partying with a group of people. There is a personality assessment mentioned in the book called the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). I’ve taken tests for it in the past and I definitely fall into the ISTJ type, which is described as:
Responsible, sincere, analytical, reserved, realistic, systematic. Hardworking and trustworthy with sound practical judgement.
ISTJs are faithful, logical, organized, sensible, and earnest traditionalists who enjoy keeping their lives and environments well-regulated. Typically reserved and serious individuals, they earn success through their thoroughness and extraordinary dependability.
In general, ISTJs are capable, logical, reasonable, and effective individuals with a deeply driven desire to promote security and peaceful living.
If you’re interested to find out your MBTI personality type, there are several tests online. The tests I found weren’t super great, so I suggest combining the results of a few tests with descriptions of each of the personality types (there are 16 types).
Anyway, back to the book.
Quiet isn’t about how introversion is better than extroversion (or vice-versa). Rather, Cain writes about how there is no “best” personality type and how we need to make sure we aren’t ignoring the needs and ideas of one group just because they’re less vocal, pushy, etc. Introversion isn’t something that needs to be “cured” and extroversion probably shouldn’t be so idealized. Both groups have their strengths and both groups are valuable in the workplace, school, family, and society in general.
Overall, I liked the book and I thought it did a great job illustrating introversion and its importance. I personally didn’t find it very enlightening (it was more an affirmation of things I already know), but it was thought-provoking and I found myself relating to a lot of the things Cain wrote about. If you’re an introvert or if you’re just looking to understand introversion better, I’d recommend reading it.
Susan Cain gave a TED Talk in 2012 called The Power of Introverts, which is definitely worth watching and it gives you a good idea of what to expect from the book. The video is below: