“Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” has been garnering many rave reviews on Amazon recently. As a self-confessed introvert, I just had to see what all the fuss is about.
Susan Cain was a corporate lawyer until her recent transformation to a writer and consultant, and it shows in her wordy, imprecise prose. A more accomplished writer like Malcolm Gladwell, author of “The Tipping Point” and “Blink“, would have injected more pizzazz in fewer words. Like Mr Gladwell, Ms Cain doesn’t delve too deeply into the science, and instead trots out a succession of characters to tell their stories. Unfortunately, they are unmemorable and barely make an impression on the reader. As a result, the story-telling frequently loses momentum.
Which is a real pity because Ms Cain does have an important lesson for us. By some estimates, introverts make up as much as half of the population. The definition of introversion in the book is a broad one, encompassing elements of Openness to experience, Neuroticism, and Extraversion from the Big Five theory of personality.
Ms Cain can most appropriately be dubbed a cheerleader for all of us who find the modern world an over-stimulating place to be, and need solitude to recharge and rejuvenate. Introverts make valuable contributions to the world, and the companies and organisations they belong to, including luminaries such as Albert Einstein and Sir Isaac Newton.
The modern “real world” extols what Ms Cain terms The Extrovert Ideal, and doesn’t have much patience for introverts. So I find her tips on handling introverted children to be of the greatest value. Adults would just have to compensate and learn how to act effectively as pseudo-extroverts.
At the heart of it, “Quiet” is a book about accepting ourselves and others for who we are. I’m sure you can learn something new from it, though you might need some patience.