Quiet: The Power of the Introvert in a World that Can't Stop Talking
- Susan Cain
At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over brainstorming in teams. Although they are often labeled "quiet," it is to introverts that we owe many of the great contributions to society--from van Gogh’s sunflowers to the invention of the personal computer.
Passionately argued, impressively researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet shows how dramatically we undervalue introverts, and how much we lose in doing so.
I first came across this book in 2012, when I attended the Library 2.012 Virtual Conference. I was intrigued enough to purchase and read it the following year, and I can honestly say that it was a pleasure to read. Not only did I see myself in many of the situations and issues that this book raised: I saw my friends. My students. It explores (in a sequence of very simple discussions involving psychological studies and experiences from businessmen, parents, educators, students and others) the emphasis modern society places on the human as a social being, and encourages the exploration of the more introverted aspects of a person's character.
I never got the sense that the author was giving a free pass for people to exclude themselves from any and all social interaction: far from it. I felt as if she were talking to me. Encouraging me. Telling me that it was okay that I usually bring a book or a notepad to social events- and often disappeared during the course of the evening. That it was okay that I spent much of my years at school with my nose in a book (and still do, in fact). That it was okay for me to work better on my own. I was left with a powerful reminder: that as an introvert, I have my own strengths. So while it was okay to stick my nose in that book on a regular basis, the benefits of my doing so would be lost if I didn't find a way to share what I discovered with others.
As readers, teachers, educators, parents, leaders: in whatever role we operate, we have to help the introverts among us to see their value; to discover ways to find and express their power in a world that doesn't always stop to listen. We have to encourage our extroverts to appreciate the contributions the introverts among them can make- and in some cases, to follow their example of deeper thought.
If we don't, we run the risk of losing something very special.