Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
by Susan Cain
I am a closet introvert. Most of my life I have functioned as an introvert, but in my work I take on the persona of an extrovert. Susan Cain calls me a pseudo-extrovert -- someone who for various reasons takes on the identity of an extravert. Cain's thesis is that for most of the 20th century, Americans worshiped people who were extroverts and discouraged introverts. We see this in a school system that encourages socialization. In the last 30 years parents have taken this to the extreme with extra-curricular activities almost every day of the week. Outgoing, friendly people are celebrated. The book worm, the loner, is discouraged.
My wife of 40 years, on the other hand, is a classic extrovert. She was born talking. She has never met a stranger who she couldn't start a conversation with. We can be sitting in the Drs. office and she will strike up a conversation with someone sitting in the next chair. In the mornings, I prefer silence. Since I don't talk, she turns on the TV so she hears someone talking. She is outgoing and friendly. Everyone falls in love with her. People when they first meet me see me as grumpy and grouchy even though I am not. I am just very quiet. We are opposites that were attracted to each othe
r. What has happened in the last 40 years is that I have taken on some of the behaviors of an extrovert and she has taken on some of the behaviors of an introvert. We have learned to live together.
Susan Cain has amassed an enormous amount of research demonstrating that society, business, communities and even marriages need and benefit from having both introverts and extroverts on the team. Steve Wozinak, inventor of the Apple computer, needed a Steve Jobs to market and sell the computer.
We are all to varying degrees somewhere on the introvert - extrovert continuum. If you are an introvert or an extrovert or in a relationship with one or the other, then you need to read this book. Business people should read this book to understand their employees, their bosses and their peers. Teachers should read this book to understand the differences in the personalities of the children they teach. Husbands and wives should read this book to understand each other.
If there is only one book you are going to read this year, it should be Quiet by Susan Cain. This book could save your marriage, your job, and your life.