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"In a gentle way, you can shake the world.",
This review is from: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking (Hardcover)
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Susan Cain's "Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking" puts the spotlight on sensitive, serious, thoughtful, and reticent people. Using data from numerous sources and citing studies and experiments conducted by a variety of researchers, Cain explores the history of extroversion/introversion, discusses the nature vs. nurture controversy, and clearly explains how the cult of personality evolved over time. Introverts, Cain asserts, are sometimes overshadowed and/or intimidated by more outgoing individuals who enjoy being the center of attention, are eager to express themselves, and may sometimes act quickly and impulsively. In fact, the author states that "introversion ... is now a second-class personality trait, somewhere between a disappointment and a pathology."
Why should we care whether or not extroversion has become "an oppressive standard to which most of us feel we must conform"? Cain insists that this issue matters, for a variety of reasons. First of all, if they are not stifled, introverts can make important contributions from which we may all profit. Cain lists a few luminaries (Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Gandhi, among others) who achieved great things in spite (or because of) their tendency "to consider stimuli rather than rushing to engage with them." Talented women like Susan Cain herself, a self-described introvert, have struggled when competing with their flashier and more gregarious counterparts. We must be especially careful to nurture subdued boys and girls who may be left behind, or even bullied, by their classmates. Teachers may be tempted to criticize these students for not speaking up more in class. Parents of an introvert should visit the school and ask their child's teacher to give her the support and encouragement that she needs. In addition, "Quiet" is filled with practical advice. Cain insists that with careful planning and by making certain adjustments, reticent people can remain true to themselves yet also succeed both personally and professionally.
"Quiet" is a wake-up call for all of us. In her lucidly written, well-organized, and compassionate book, Susan Cain eloquently states that we should respect, honor, and buoy up the introverts among us, instead of ignoring and marginalizing them. Introverts are found everywhere. They may be doctors, artists, composers, plumbers, teachers, accountants, or administrators. If someone prefers his own company, eschews small talk, avoids loud and crowded gatherings, and thinks before he speaks, he should receive as much respect and understanding as his flashier peers. Where do introverts fit in and what role do they play in a world that appears to value outgoing and expansive personalities? That is a question we should all ponder and discuss.