Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts had a very interesting reception at our cottage this summer. I think everyone read the first chapter and few read the whole book. It was amazing how many people wanted to be introverts and how many were appalled that they were remotely close to being an introvert. The “extrovert ideal” was fully present.
I often like to read the “bad reviews” on Amazon when I reflect on a book. Quiet has many good reviews and quite a few one or two star reviews. The low reviews are all about “too much repetition of the core idea” or “this is segregating introverts”. I don’t share the opinions of the few low reviews. It is true that Cain has a “focussed and simple” message about introversion Awareness of “introversion traits” will help us all that she uses to explore many different environments and contexts. This is important because there are lots of introverts in the world and they have strengths. A lot of the force in her message is because she feels we live in a world where the ideal is “Extraversion”. I really liked how she took her simple message and explored it many environments and contexts. It’s like a a bunch of experiments with similar results but also lots of little differences. The nuances are the key. But it can be repetitive. It is what it is.
There is a lot on public speaking in this book. An common introvert issue ( she says). One of the stories involves a Professor named Brian Little who needs a tremendous amount of down-time after speaking. There is a description of him hiding in a bathroom stall after a speaking engagement so that he can recharge. I particularly liked this because I have a hard time with pre and post speaking engagements. I find that I leave all my energy on the podium I have very little left to give after a talk. Also I don’t like to use up my energy before either. Leaking energy before a talk never ends well. I usually run out of steam in the Q&A. The Q&A is the most demanding part of a talk. It takes tremendous energy to listen to a question, process it, and then answer in front of a crowd. The analogy is gas mileage, Q&A is inner city driving gas mileage of (~10 mpg) vs highway driving mileage of (~40 mpg), there is a big difference.
I applaud Susan Cain for taking on this subject. She doesn’t solve the problems of Introversion, but she does make the reader aware of them in a deep way. It’s up to us to solve our own problems. She also makes us aware of Introversion strengths. She definitely made me more aware of “Introversion Traits” and some coping strategies that can be experimented with.
I highly recommend this book. It provides a alternate lens to look at our “Extravert Ideal” world. It can help you begin focussing on your strengths and/or supporting them in a child (friend).