Monday, February 25, 2013

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain

My guess is that a lot of us book bloggers can relate to the word "introvert". Though I don't want to generalize. So let me speak for myself instead...I can most certainly relate to the word introvert. I'm about as introverted as they come. I like my alone time. I cherish it and actively seek it out. When I think of my perfect place to recharge, I think of a dimly lit room, cuddled under a blanket with a book and some coffee. Or alone in a garden playing with plants. Or walking through the woods and listening to birds sing and appreciating nature all around me. Crowds, clubs, confrontation, public speaking, self advocacy....those things all nearly send me into a panic. Though I have to say I don't mind spending time with a small group of people in a more intimate setting or a quiet bar when I know the people I'm with.

As an introvert, I've always thought "there's something wrong with me." Because society (at least American society) doesn't like the introvert ideal. We are a "go get 'em" society. You're in a race with your peers in the work force for success. Those who are quiet are deemed shy and often "nerdy" as I was throughout my childhood and therefore shunned, by peers as well as teachers. It's caused problems in my relationships because I am so uncomfortable going out with people I don't know and especially to crowded places.

Susan Cain's book, Quiet, let me tell myself that it's ok to be me for the first time in a long time and I gleamed so much from this book about how to make my own personality work for myself. But let me point out now that this is not a self help book at all. The best way I can describe it is think of Mary Roach writing about introversion, but add a little bit more of a personal feel to it instead of Roach's more scientific approach to things. There is plenty of research and stories in Cain's book though it is never a heavy read. It's extremely enlightening.

The book covers every aspect of introversion that you can think how it benefits a person and can hurt a person, ways in which businesses can make adjustments to benefit their companies by using the unique abilities of introverts, raising children with introversion and teaching children with introversion, being in a relationship with an introvert and as an introvert and most importantly, coming to terms with yourself and just being OK with being introverted.

Cain makes a strong argument for what I already knew down inside, just never applied....the societal norm doesn't have to dictate how I feel about myself as an introvert. Knowing who I am and how I interact with the world and what I need to feel  the best each day is what matters. I listened to the audio and I'll get to that in a second, but I WISH I had a hard copy of the book because there was a quote that was so perfect and I listened to it on my way to work and it made all the difference in my work day.

I work as an admissions counselor at a psychiatric counselor and due to services being cut in Louisiana, we've had a huge influx of patients. I've been so exhausted lately. I go in at 3 and literally just rush and don't stop and go go go from one admit to the next as quickly as I can because I know the hospital wants all the admits in quickly and as many admits as possible per shift. But it's really wearing me down. What I heard Cain talk about on the way into work that day was that at our jobs, introverts need to work at our own pace. We naturally do not seek outside rewards and tend to do our jobs just to do a good job and our best work, which I do. But often at our jobs there's a conflict of wanting to do our best work and also feeling pressured by the job's demands as well. But the job will get done regardless and for our own peace of mind we need to control what we can and work at our own pace. So I went in to work that day and told myself I was going to do one admit at a time, be with that person fully, not thinking about the other five patients in the lobby, knowing that they would be seen when I finished the patient that I was with. And it really did make all the difference. I just need to keep remembering to do this!

The was SO GOOD! I think they picked the perfect reader for the audio production of this book. It was read by Kathe Mazur and I'll most certainly keep my ears open for more audiobooks that she's read. She has a wonderful tone to her voice and sounds like she was very invested in this book. The only thing I hated about the audio is what I mentioned before...not being able to write down quotes because I was driving when i listened to it. The whole last chapter, the "conclusion" was wonderful and I wish it would just be made into a poster so I could hang it on my wall. Can't recommend this one highly enough!


Debi said...

Okay that does it--I *need* to get this book!!!

Ali said...

I've been in the hold queue for this one for a while now. I can't wait to read it, especially after reading your review!

Megan said...

This sounds like a book I really need to read. I've been working on accepting my introverty self. It would be nice to hear about my unique introvert abilities instead of getting worn down by extroverts of the world for a change.

Kailana said...

I have been curious about this book since it came out! Now to find time to read it...

Jeane said...

Everything you said I could yell "ditto" to. Except that I haven't read the book yet. I hate crowds, even going to restaurants. Hate interviews. Don't enjoy the mall or shopping- which seems to confuse other women I meet to no end. Love my solo time, am perfectly content when home alone with just my plants for company. My ex has often complained that all the interests I have are solitary in nature- reading, doing puzzles, growing plants, even creating artwork. Yeah. That sums me up! I feel like this is a book I will need to have so I'm probably going to buy in un-read first, which is unusual for me.

Kristen M. said...

I totally was not interested in this book until I read this review. I never would have considered myself as an introvert when I was younger but now I guess I do. I really have that "no outside rewards" thing which makes it hard to decide on a career because so many jobs I'm interested in have big political and self-promotional structures. I just want to do a good job at whatever it is. I'm going to have to read this one soon because I need to just be ok with who I am. :)

Michelle Shannon said...

I'm so glad you loved it! I know I have found so much peace and empowerment after reading it, knowing that not everyone can be an extrovert and nor would we want everyone to be. I take pride in the fact that my deliberateness and need to think before acting is valuable, and even though this exact trait has gotten me in trouble on more than one occasion - my method of thinking through a situation is to tackle the negatives first, which leads others to assume that I am a very negative person and not willing to accept new ideas - I stand by my methodology knowing that in the end, I will not only accept a new situation but will embrace it fully because I've looked at it from every angle. I love that Susan Cain was able to do that for me. I've been recommending this book to so many people, including my very extroverted husband!

Chris Howard said...

Debi, Yes you do :)

Ali, I hope you get it sooner than later! It's such a good book!

Megan, That's exactly what this book does! I've struggled with the same thing as you for a long time..this book has been a big help :)

Kelly, It's SO good! You really should read it!

Jeane, Definitely one worth owning!! In fact, I want to get a hard copy for myself too and maybe a couple of copies to give to some of my private practice clients too!

Kristen, Glad I could peak your interest in it :) It's a fantastic book!

Michelle, I have a feeling I'll be recommending this one to a lot of people too!

Melanie said...

Glad you liked it! I saw a lot of myself in it as well and a LOT of reasons why previous boyfriend (an extrovert extreme) and I didn't work out.

Bookfool said...

Oh, funny! I just bought this book a couple weeks ago and you'll never believe who I got the recommendation from -- Andrew McCarthy, the actor. Have you read his travel memoir? He's extremely introverted. Hard to believe an actor can be such an introvert but that's actually one of the reasons his travel memoir is so great. It's about how travel has helped him find himself, so to speak. If you haven't read it, you really must. It's so good.

I'll bet you're correct that a lot of bloggers are introverts. When Carrie and I met, she was a little shocked at first. I think she expected me to be as perky as my blogging persona, when in fact I'm really quiet and subdued -- at least till I get to know you. We laughed a lot, the second time we met up, though! :)

And, I'm extroverted by comparison with my husband! He'll say "Hi" to you and disappear if you ever come to visit. I mean WHEN you come to visit.