Fact: Book Review: Quiet

Quiet

As a child I was always scolded for being too shy, which as you can imagine really boosted my confidence levels.

Say something my uncle would chime, rendering my brain devoid of anything to utter other than uhm.

As I got older I was still quiet, but I didn’t think of myself as shy. I could put myself on stage with the school choir if I wanted to and happily acted as presenter and interviewer of a semi-famous local radio DJ in a project for GCSE Media Studies. But at the same time I relished time to myself. I had strong morals and wasn’t like the other kids I hung around with.

You’re quietly cool said one entry in my secondary school leavers book. I liked that. Who said you had to be a loudmouth to be respected?

As life progressed some ‘got me’, others viewed me as a loner. I put it down to a lack of confidence, which was funny, because I could easily stand up in a room of people and do a presentation, if that’s what I needed to do.

It was only a few years ago that I read about the introvert/extrovert spectrum and recognised myself as being introverted. Quiet offers a deeper and truly fascinating insight into the world of the introvert. Part personal self-help book, part business tome, part psychological investigation Quiet questions why, certainly, the Western world has come to favour extroverts over introverts and whether that’s really sensible.

Author, Susan Cain, a self-proclaimed introvert, looks at introversion (and extroversion) from all angles. There’s the science bit, the cultural aspect (outside of the Western world introversion can be held in higher esteem then extroversion, which is probably why hubby and I (both introverts) favour the Far East for our relaxing holidays).

Cain asserts that in, certain situations, introverts can often be overlooked for roles they would be perfect for simply because we favour the extroverted ideal. Often introverted sales people are more succesful than extroverted ones, even though the perception may be otherwise. She questions whether the recent worldwide financial crisis might have been avoided if there were more introverted business bods at the tops off the big banks. And notes that some of the world’s most influential people are, in fact, introverted by nature – Albert Einstein, Steven Spielberg, J. K. Rowling, Bill Gates… All of this backed up with fascinating evidence, written in a witty and compelling way. Yes, it’s a non-fiction book, but some of the stories are so well-written you can imagine what the subject looks like and how they talk, even without seeing them (as you would with a work of fiction).

She also offers invaluable advice for introverts on how to thrive and survive in the world of the extrovert. Some of which I seem to do without even realising it. Other bits I’m looking to incorporate into my behaviour to lend more weight to arguments in business meetings and elsewhere.

What with extroverts being so loud and all that, it’s unlikely that there’s going to be an ‘introvert revolution’ any time soon. But, if you’ve ever felt guilty for not being able to think of something witty to say, or wanting to leave a party early, then this book offers an empowering reminder of the strengths which you do possess, that extroverts don’t. But it’s not just introverts who should read this book. I would prescribe it to all those extroverts out there too. So they can understand that we’re not all like them, and that that’s OK, we’re still an essential part of the mix in any team (they just shouldn’t be surprised when we’re not overjoyed at their suggestion of a team building exercise – sheesh!).

And if you read nothing else, read the beautifully constructed conclusion entitled, Wonderland. Superb work, Susan Cain.

Fabulous rating: 5/5

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