"Introverts are like a rechargeable battery. They need to stop expending energy and rest in order to recharge. Extroverts are like solar panels that need the sun to recharge. Extroverts need to be out and about to refuel." ~Marti Olsen Laney
Imagine feeling alone in a crowd, preferring a quiet corner to the limelight and feeling overwhelmed by phones, parties and office meetings. Do people often think you are shy, aloof or antisocial? If you are an introvert, you are going to completely relate to a variety of comments that are like fireworks going off in recognition of truth. Introverts can hide their talents and only show them in certain situations.
Through reading this wonderful and often humorous book, you will be assured that nothing is wrong with you. In fact, there is a connection between Introversion and Intelligence.
What is fascinating is how Marti Olsen Laney explains how introverts create energy in the opposite way extroverts do. I'm often drained of all energy after being with people for extended periods of time, but being with a book can set me on fire with creativity and energy. I can handle small groups and connecting with familiar faces can actually energize me, but after three hours, I want to find a more peaceful setting.
This book helped me understand why I have deeper thoughts when I'm by myself than in a group setting. People seem to not know who I am in the "real-world," but online, I have found a place to show my true self. This is apparently because introverts are more comfortable with writing than speaking in public.
Are You an Introvert?
Are you detail oriented yet details in public spaces overwhelm you?
Do you prefer small parties with intimate friends?
Do you avoid crowds?
Would you rather be reading books in bed in your pajamas?
Do you get tired when you are around people, but energized when alone?
Do you feel guilty about having to "limit" your social experiences so you can survive?
Does your mind sometimes go blank in group situations?
Do you dislike being interrupted in the middle of a project?
The author has divided her comments into three main sections. First you find out if you really are an introvert, then you discover how to navigate the extrovert world. The last section explains how you can create the perfect life by "extroverting." This is just another way of saying that an introvert can also shine their light out into the world.
After reading the list of famous introverts, you will see similarities in their personalities. The author also gives a list of movies to add to your "must-see" list. Marti also spends time seeking the in-depth answers to brain chemistry. You will also find out if you are a Right or Left-Brained Introvert.
Then onward to "dating." The "Relationships: Face the Music and Dance" chapter shows how personality types collide, how to meet the challenge and then how to appreciate the differences. Even by reading the chapter on Parenting, I started to understand extroverts in a new way. I find extroverts to be fascinating, yet at times they overwhelm my cozy-sit-in-the-corner cat nature with their tiger tactics. Extroverts just seem so aggressive at times. The world can look a little threatening and a party can be overwhelming.
I love the author's ideas about how to be a sea anemone at a party. I've survived many parties with this tactic. If you are worried about what to say at a party, Marti gives plenty of solutions in the form of openers, sustainers, transitions and closers. Then she dives into the hazards from 9 to 5. This chapter will also shed some light on your personal relationships. Ok, by the time I read "Pack Your Survival Kit" this book had been more than helpful. These tips alone will encourage you to create a more peaceful planet.
"The Introvert Advantage" is an encouraging book for anyone who has felt the pain of being an introvert in an extrovert world. Marti Olsen Laney also shows how it can be equally painful and unfulfilling to remain in a state of seclusion. Through reading thoughtful segments on a daily basis, you can finally start to find balance in your daily existence.
This is a must-read book for all Introverts and the people who love them. The author has a comfortable writing style and you will feel "at home" and find yourself "completely" relating to her experiences. It is rare to find a book where you just fall in love with an author's personality. She is cute, witty and intellectual too. Finally someone out there understands! The author has really done her research.
Highly recommended. Add this book to your Top Ten must-read books this year. After all, it will help you understand 25% of the population.
~The Rebecca Review
A Right-brained "mostly" Introvert (INFP) and proud of it.
on November 2, 2004
I like this book. It is an excellent place to start exploring life as an Introvert, or for an Extravert to start trying to understand Introverts. Author Marti Laney sees Introversion as a personality type -- a particular collection or pattern of personality traits. Her 30-question quiz scores you on a continuum from Introverted to Extraverted. Yet a limitation shows up here, in that the Introvert prototype in this book is based on the exact combination of traits that the author says she herself possesses as an Introvert, which is actually just one subtype of Introversion. For example, Jungian personality type approaches talk about 8 subtypes of Introverts -- see David Keirsey's book Please Understand Me II for details. Below I will suggest step 2 in the quest for understanding Introversion, for follow up after reading The Introvert Advantage, by mentioning some books that focus on one or another subtype of Introverts:
Thoughtful--introspective: Solitude by A. Storr
Shy--socially anxious: The Gift of Shyness by A. Avila
Artistic--creative: The Highly Sensitive Person by E. Aron
Worried: The Positive Power of Negative Thinking by J. Norem
Lonely--isolated: Just Your Type by P. Tieger
Loner--alone by preference: Party of One by A. Rufus
Low Energy: High Energy Living by R. Cooper
Literary--observer: Jane Austen, The Complete Novels
Different books for different introverts. As Carl Jung said, each individual is ultimately a unique crystal, but type theories can be helpful for navigating social life.
on March 24, 2005
I picked up a copy of "The Introvert Advantage" because the title intrigued me. I am an introvert, and I have found the trait to offer relatively few advantages in a practical day-to-day living sense. Marti Olsen Laney's book was certainly an interesting and worthwhile read-- and is "recommended reading" for introverts as a nice general reference on the trait-- but it offers only the flimsiest of explanations as to how Introversion is an "advantage."
Unlike most writers exploring the subject of introversion-- and who generally go to some lengths to share woeful tales of how "difficult" introversion is, and how it is practically an "illness" or "syndrome" one should be pitied for-- Olsen Laney refreshingly goes into explanations of the neuroscience aspects of Introversion. By showing that "innies" ARE wired a little differently, she effectively removes the "it's all in your imagination" angle many introverts are presented with, on a daily basis. The author also shows how differing biochemistry is behind many of the differences between introverts and extraverts. This, alone, makes the book stand out from previous works on introversion. To her credit, Laney also mostly avoids the common tendency to present a work on introversion in an "us vs them" (extraverts) tone.
The book is divided into three main sections. Part one explores the basics of introversion, with descriptions and examples, as well as self-assessment quizzes. This is also the section that talks about the neuroscience of introversion. Part two covers the challenges facing introverts in a predominantly extraverted world, addressing the areas of relationships, parenting, socializing and work. Part three-- entitled "Creating the 'Just Right' Life"-- is basically about "coping skills" for introverts.
There is little doubt that "The Introvert Advantage" will provide some nice validation, as well as some helpful information, for many Introverts. I have lent my copy to several fellow introverts, and the feedback has mostly come back in the form of "Oh, that is SO me!" or "Yay, I'm normal!!!"
In the end, Laney does her readers a bit of a disservice-- AND somewhat invalidates her own claims that Introversion is an "advantage"-- by including a chapter on "Extraverting." The presence of a chapter which implies that introverts need to be more extraverted to cope in life flies in the face of describing Introversion as something that is an "advantage." But maybe I'm being overly picky. I also felt some parts of the book focused too much on the guilt, shortcomings, phobias, shame, social anxieties and other ostensibly negative issues associated with Introversion.
Final thoughts: Recommended (7 out of a possible 10 bookmarks), but not a 5-star book. Quick and easy to read, but very much a book with definite strengths and weaknesses. The coverage of the neuroscience of Introversion approaches "must read" status, while the notion of "Extraverting" comes across as a non-creative sellout to the idea that "you can either be like the majority, or fail." The rest of the book falls somewhere between the two.
on October 23, 2003
Pros: The book neatly covers issues important to introverts - dating, parenting, socializing, work. Each introvert might find a few useful tips. Most fascinating to me was the chapter on biology and genetic causes of introversion and extroversion. It reassures that you're not alone - there are other introverts out there!
Cons: Though called "Introvert ADVANTAGE", it's more coping than celebrating. It dwells on introvert inadequacy, guilt, shame and paralyzing fear. The author seems biased towards her personal experience - right-brained, probably an F (feeling), and married to an extrovert. The book is confusing from a Meyers-Briggs/Keirsey (INTP, ESFJ, etc) standpoint since she divides almost ALL personality traits as introvert or extrovert.
There are style issues as well: The font is large. Many chapters feel introductory at best. Frequent long, rambling stories about the author's family and patients. Hard statistics and clinical/medical studies are sporadic. A lot of "conflict resolution" tips are touchy-feely self-help rather than introvert or extrovert related.
Overall: The book is a quick and easy read, and fun to flip through. The best chapter is personality brain chemistry. While the book could improve from further editing and more research study citations, it is still a fun way to spend an afternoon.
on February 3, 2006
There are two points in this book that Laney affirms again and again: that there is nothing wrong with being introverted, and that introverts draw their energy from quiet, peaceful situations and need to give themselves adequate time to recharge. These points are convincingly, if too repetitiously, made, but little time is spent advising introverts on how to play to their strengths. The subtitle of the book is "How to Thrive in an Extrovert World." "How to Cope in an Extroverted World" would be more apt.
The most useful section of this book offers advice on how to personalize your social interactions to the temperament of the audience. Introverts and extroverts need different kinds of praise, admonition, and conversation styles, and Laney explains how to adapt to family, friends, and co-workers on either end of the spectrum. In fact, this book might be more educational to extroverts than introverts, since introverted behavior is so often misinterpreted.
With its overwhelming message of self-acceptance, this book has a subtext that some could find discouraging: you will never be an extrovert, so stop trying so hard. Give yourself lots of breaks from highly stimulating environments, take precautions to protect yourself from situations that make you uncomfortable, and take baby steps to "fake it" as an extrovert if you wish. The advice is aimed at the pure introvert - one who not only prefers peace and quiet, but thinks slowly, talks slowly, acts slowly, has low energy, and goes into sensory overload at the drop of a hat. For readers of mixed temperament, this characterization won't resonate.
This book hasn't convinced me that the advantages of being an introvert outweigh the disadvantages. But it does dispense better advice for life than most books in the self-help genre, so all in all it's a decent read.
on January 7, 2004
Laney's book is a perfect example of the marketing aspect of psychiatry. The phrase "introvert advantage" appears perhaps once in her entire book, and despite what you would think, the idea that introversion is an advantage doesn't play a central role in her theory. "The introvert advantage" is a phrase that sounds good and gets hopeful people to buy the book, but in the end, Laney's message is that being introverted and being successful ("success" being defined by the psychological industry) don't make for a realistic combination. The author says the traits of introversion do have their advantages (introspection, for one) and no one should feel bad about being introverted, but the final chapter of her book is entitled "Extroverting," which says it all. In the end, the assumption is that what introverts really want and need is to be more extroverted. In the end, the book betrays its audience.
on April 20, 2007
I randomly picked this book up the other day, not knowing what to expect. I started reading it and was instantly sucked in. It was amazing how well she described myself as introverted, and it was fascinating how she explained how an introverted brain works. And this was only the first couple of chapters!
Unfortunately, it goes downhill from there. After a good start is reverts to standard self-help fluff, and like others have said, becomes a little too cute. Worst of all, it suffers from the very problem its trying to address. The book never says just what the advantage of being an introvert is, but instead says repeatedly how I have low energy and get overwhelmed easily. The book treats introversion as a disease, and how to cope.
Not that the book is completely worthless. The beginning is quite good, and there are some good tips and ideas throughout. I'm sure there are worse books out there, but there are probably much better ones too.
on November 25, 2010
I first picked up this book with high expectations. As a man who's had to spend his entire life taking heat from others for being a relatively reserved individual, the idea that my temperament was not only normal for an introvert but also potentially advantageous was a comforting one. To her credit, Laney does a good job explaining the fundamental differences between introverts and extroverts, and how these differences can be observed on a genetic level.
Where Laney ultimately fails in her attempt to bring introverts into a new sense of self-awareness is with male introverts. From the beginning, you can tell that she is writing this book not only from the position of a woman, but also for female readers. Virtually all of her stories are from the perspective of women, and it is rare that she speaks about male introverts. Laney seems to forget that half of the introverts she is attempting to reach are men, and the experience of a male introvert is vastly different from the experience of introverted women. For one thing, men are expected to be extroverted, while women can really get away with either temperament.
Nowhere is this clearer than in the field of dating and romance. Laney begins her book with promises of ways for introverts to discover and utilize their introvert advantages across fields of life, including dating, and yet when I reached this chapter, I was sorely disappointed. It became abundantly clear that she has little advice to offer introverted men, and the advice she did have was borderline insulting. She insinuates, however inadvertently, that introverted men are not capable of filling a traditional male role. She describes relationships for introverted men as "fundamentally challenging" and goes on to prescribe a program that is basically a form of intense relationship therapy in which the man and woman must go through several drawn out conversations and outline their basic expectations for the relationship. In particular, she suggests that the man take the time to consider his expectations.
That patronizingly translates to "lower your expectations and be ready for a lot of work", which your girlfriend is probably not going to want to go through when she could easily jump on board with an extroverted man who doesn't require any relationship therapy at all. For someone who spends the majority of her book encouraging introverts to embrace themselves and recognize that their introversion is not a curse, Laney seems to hold introverted men with a degree of contempt. Let's just say that if Laney were my psychologist, and repeated the sort of advice that I found in her book, I would walk out of her office and never return.
on April 17, 2004
I'm a college student that recently went away to school and it wasn't too long before I started getting cranky and depressed. Being an intovert my whole life, i figured that throwing myself into a social situation would increase my ability to like being social, but all it ever seemed to do was annoy me and make me feel like a failure because i hadn't adapted to all of my extroverted peers. I started reading this book one day when I escaped to the bookstore as a way to get away from campus. I usually don't appreciate any self help books, because they tend to make me feel worse about myself. But this book was quite different. The author has a way of empathizing with the reader and explained to me things about myself that I never would have suspected. The reviews on here that criticize the book for not being complete enough, should realize that it was probably not intended for that purpose. The book does give some quidelines however in helping the introvert understand their situation better. Overall, it gives the introvert hope and reasons to finally accept who they are, because it is difficult to be an introvert in an extroverted world.
on February 14, 2011
The title of this book is a fraud: Although there are environments and professions where introverts _thrive_ and various of their traits are _advantageous_ if not essential, the book barely acknowledges this. And the occasional statements about the benefits of some of the characteristics of introverts and the you-are-ok reassurances come across as insincere and condescending because they are surrounded and vastly outweighed by admonitions that introverts must change and become more like extroverts or that they must accept that they just can't keep up.
I picked up this book because it was favorably mentioned in discussions of a recent study of corporate management that found that contrary to assumptions that leaders are extroverts, that a mix of extroverts and introverts had decided advantages and that an introvert could be a successful CEO with close associates who were extroverts to complement (balance) him.
I am a scientist/engineer and work in an introvert-rich environment. Yet these people are not represented in this book--their existence is barely acknowledged. Although the author acknowledges that there is a range of introverts, she seems to be heavily focused only on the extremes, especially those who are easily overwhelmed by the normal course of everyday events. While this distortion may be a bias induced by whom the author sees as a therapist, it is a major factor in my hostility to this book. Because the author cites various famous introverts who don't match this characterization, she should be aware of this skew.
The book is riddled with contradictions between how it characterizes introverts and the writing. The book characterizes introverts as focused and attentive, yet incessantly repeats the same few basic high-level points. Introverts are self-aware and analytical, but the book assumes that they are oblivious and provides obvious banalities (Overwhelmed by events? Try pacing yourself.) Introverts like careful, deep analysis, but the book provides facile, shallow descriptions. Introverts are inner-directed and not motivated by groups, but the "motivation" is to present a list of successful introverts and say that that you can do it too. This is the sort of cheerleading that introverts roll their eyes at.
Although the author claims to be an introvert, I saw nothing in the book that would indicate such and came to the belief that the claim was simply a ploy employed by therapists to establish empathy, or possibly credibility. The anecdotes that she tells of herself don't feel authentic, but more like a story fashioned to make a point. Neither did I encounter any real understanding or empathy for introverts. The approach of this book is that of an extrovert--just do it--rather than an introvert who wants a deeper understanding to guide a plan of action. In many places, the book felt as if textbook-derived understanding of introversion had been applied to a generic template for self-help books.
Note: This is not an assessment of what the author is or isn't, but of what came through in the book--this is a review of the book, not the author.
I read an interesting essay "Is Shyness an Evolutionary Tactic?" by Susan Cain in the 25 June 2011 New York Times. She has a pending book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking that is due out in January 2012, but there are already reviews based on an advanced copy (including one from me).