Why Cain's "Quiet" is a Hermit's Choice Mar 18, 2013
This book was recommended to me by a former academic turned university librarian owing to his personal realization that he was more introverted than he had previously understood and had finally found peace when he recognized it, and then found work more suited to his personality style. I usually do not rush to read a book just because someone mentions it, no matter who does the recommending. But his relief from the insights he discovered in her book made me go for it.
What I liked immediately was that at last someone was writing about something that I and many of my professional colleagues (we facilitated behavioral simulations for mid and senior level management in organizations for many years) consistently found to be true--that the ones who often know the most about a situation or business context are not often the ones making the decisions or even being consulted for their knowledge, these being those who using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicators would be labeled as much more introverted than extroverted. If these more knowing ones were consulted by the more extroverted decision-makers, many business fiascos and other crises could be avoided or downsides minimized. But we do live in an extrovert-worshipping nation, the price for which is increasingly being paid for by us all.
Susan Cain has pulled together many important ideas that resonate more correctly, based on what I actually observed in practice, compared with anything offered by the limited premises that underlay the more traditional and strongly dichotomous / polarized interpretations of what constitute introversion or extroversion in human behavior.
I not only found Cain’s insights important for validating what I have long known to be true professionally, I also found her book personally life affirming and emotionally freeing from the bondage of being presumed to have failed to live up to the extrovert ideal, an image which I found exhausting in trying to maintain. I am but an over-exposed introvert who can relax now.
Perhaps “Quiet” will stimulate a fresh research perspective in the social-spiritual-psychological underpinnings of behavioral style as well as the motivating sources of energy and power. Such a prospect could move a few areas of the social sciences out of their paradigmatic quagmires that currently have extreme or nearly extreme extroverts overlooking and sometimes penalizing introverts who are only different, not less worthy or valuable to the enterprise. It is this battle between personality types that to my mind informs an institutionalized prejudice that is grinding some of the best and brightest out of the very professional settings that need the balancing that including alternative perspectives born of the more quiet types could provide.
["Quiet" is the Hermits’ Choice Book Award winner for the 17th Annual National Hermit Week being celebrated June 13-20, 2013.]