What's Wrong With Being an Introvert?
Introversion and Extroversion
Ever since Carl Yung popularized the terms extroverted and introverted, researchers, employers and academics have been categorizing people as one or the other. At different periods in history, each of these personality traits have fallen in and out of favour, with society displaying a key preference for individuals displaying the characteristics of either introversion or extraversion.
Myers-Briggs personality tests have been conducted on countless job applicants, university students and employees, as companies and individuals seek to understand what makes individuals tick and the best ways to communicate with them and motivate and reward them.
Yet despite all of the talk about introversion and extraversion, there still remains some confusion about these labels. Often, the meanings of the terms are oversimplified. Someone who is labelled as extroverted is often deemed to be energetic and outgoing, while introverts are regarded as shy and quiet.
While these characteristics may often hold true, there is much more to what it means to be an extrovert or an introvert, and one type is not inherently better than the other.
Sir Isaac Newton
Theodor Suess Geisel (Dr Suess)
Susan Cain, a former Wall Street lawyer and self-proclaimed introvert, spent years researching introversion for her book on the subject, entitled . Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
I had the privilege of hearing Susan speak at a conference for writers and bloggers last summer. Although Susan claimed that speaking to the room of hundreds of attendees was way outside her comfort zone as an introvert, you would never have known it. She was fascinating to listen to, and in a room full of writers she had many people that could definitely identify with what she was saying - myself included.
After listening to Susan speak, I had to buy the book to learn more. Her observations and conclusions about introverts are interesting and enlightening, for introverts and extroverts alike.
Susan Cain - The Power of Introverts - TEDTalks
“Writing is something you do alone. It's a profession for introverts who want to tell you a story but don't want to make eye contact while doing it.” - John Green
In the book "Quiet" Susan presents a fascinating study of the history of the theory behind introversion and extroversion, and examines the ways that society has displayed a marked tendency to encourage "extroverted" tendencies in schools and the workplace. She also demonstrates the important contributions that introverts have made and continue to make, to society, and questions why we don't do a better job of encouraging introverts to harness their natural strengths.
Raising an Introverted Child
Susan Cain has some valuable tips for parents who are raising an introverted child.
Her advice includes cultivating your child's passions, however unique they may be. She also cautions parents that if you have a shy child, to never let them hear you call them shy. As someone who was labelled "shy" all through my childhood, I can completely see the wisdom in that advice.
Introversion vs Extraversion
Traits of an Introvert
Traits of an Extrovert
recharges by spending time alone in solitary pursuits; can find interactions with large groups of people draining or overwhelming
gains energy from being around other people; less likely to enjoy spending time alone
tends to be more reserved and less outspoken in groups
tend to be talkative, assertive and outgoing in groups
likely to enjoy careers as writers, composers, artists, engineers
likely to enjoy careers such as sales, politics, criminal law
values self reflection and prefers to think through problems to find a solution
values collaboration and likes to discuss problems to find a solution
Introvert vs Extrovert
Do you consider yourself an Introvert or an Extrovert?
Quiet Quiz: Are You an Extrovert or an Introvert - or an Ambivert?
On Susan's Power of Introverts website, there is an online quiz to help you determine if you are an introvert, an extrovert or an ambivert. I already knew I was an introvert, and this quiz confirmed how much of an introvert I am. However, reading this book also helped me see the strengths in being an introvert.
“I'm an introvert...I love being by myself, love being outdoors, love taking a long walk with my dogs and looking at the trees, flowers, the sky.” - Audrey Hepburn
The verdict on "Quiet"
I really enjoyed this book, and found it to be well-researched and informative. There were lots of real-life examples used throughout the book, which kept it interesting. I thought the chapters on How to Talk to Members of the Opposite Type and How to Cultivate Quiet Kids in a World That Can't Hear Them were particularly interesting, and full of practical advice for both introverts and extroverts.
This is one of those books that I will definitely read again, and would recommend it to anyone who would like to understand and appreciate the qualities of introversion better- either for themselves or for other introverts in their life.