Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Book Review: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

I recently finished the audio-book 'Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking' by Susan Cain, and just HAD to share my thoughts with you! If you are an introvert, are married to one, are in business with one, or have an introverted child, I highly recommend this book. (BTW-I listened to the audio book and found the voice of the speaker quite perfect to listen to.)

In addition to highlighting the strengths and power of introverts, this book also shares about how America became such an extroverted culture, and compares it to China's respect for quiet and reflection. How to choose a job that suits your energy needs or to set-up 'restorative niches' – places you can go or things you can do to recharge. Why brainstorming and open work environments don't bring out the best in anyone. How to understand your introverted child, meet them where they are at, support them and help them grow in the way and pace they need it. This book is also backed by a lot of research and scientific study. What I also love is that it shares quite a bit about extroverts and doesn't make them look like the bad guy. It shows the strengths of both types.

One of the many big take-aways I have from this book is the research behind open work environments. Have you worked in a corporate environment where they decided to get rid of your single cubicle, and open up the area for many of you to share a space in the pursuit of a 'more collaborative environment'.  This book shares study after study about how this model fails each time. Studies show that both introverts and extroverts are not able to be as productive as when they sit by themselves, nor come up with their best ideas when sharing an office space.

I myself am an introvert. I get recharged by spending lots of time by myself, vs extroverts who get recharged by being around people. I'm married to an extrovert. My parents are extroverts, and many of my close friends are extroverts as well. I love extroverts! I also love introverts and they hold a special place in my heart because I can relate so well to them and their inner lives. I have a huge passion for Myers-Briggs and Keirsey temperament sorters and research, and love to help people understand themselves and those close to them, using these tools. Because of these tools, for a long time I've been perfectly OK being an introvert, and knew the powers we had, however, I still found this book validating, interesting and powerful.
As part of my job presenting trend, color and print, I've needed to give multiple presentations a year. Learn how to project my voice. Not say 'um'. Prepare what I'm going to say, and articulate it to an audience. For my entire life I've heard how I need to 'grow', to be less like myself and more like _______. This book is the first time I've truly heard not only that it's OK to be an introvert - but that we have unique strengths and power to contribute to this world, and the world needs us just as we are. What I love about this book is that it doesn't give me tips on how to become more extroverted. It accepts introverts for who they are and shares tons of research and case studies to back up the power of introversion.

Yes, there's room for all of us to grow. I'm thankful for all the years that I had to give presentations as I went from shaking and freaking out, to finding my voice and speaking what I was passionate about. I know what does and doesn't work for me now. However, I think it's important for all of us to know that we can only grow within who we are, and can really only grow and stretch by a few degrees. We will never be able to be someone else. We are who we are and that's a beautiful thing.

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