Quiet: The Power of Introverts by Susan Cain is an insightful read. At the onset of this book, the author theorizes that a shift has occurred in our western culture from one that rewards introversion and introspection to our current “culture of personality” that shapes our current negative outlook on introverts.
Some of the areas covered in this book include the biology of personality traits, a perception on Asian cultural difference, (which in my opinion could cover some European cultures as well in terms of politeness and taking up people’s valuable time), and how to love and how to work best within your introvert/extrovert style.
I definitely think professional organizers and life coaches might want to take in part 4 (How to Love, How to Work) of this book to think about how this applies not only to them but to their clients. The concept of individuals developing “Restorative Niches”, attributed to Professor Brian Little, is briefly explored. The idea being that it is a place where you go to return to your real self. This can be a physical place or a temporal one such as a break or buffer between appointments. This is to me an important part of helping a client improve their self-care. Defining and knowing this as an important part of one’s being is critical for optimum success. Space design from an introverts prospective is another useful concept and applicable to professional organizers and specifically, productivity coaches, in their work. Finally, an interesting exploration of “Flow” is briefly discussed and some works of Mihlay Csikszentmihalyi are referenced. Cain suggests introverts should seek to use their “gifts” and stay true to their own nature.
I would have liked to see more exploration and comparisons on the intricacies of introverts/extroverts. Perhaps a chart or two to clearly point out the distinctions by the various theorists presented (Jung, Myers Briggs, “Big 5”). In addition, I would have also liked to learn more about ambivert ( a combination of both) which after reading this book I am beginning to believe fits me best.
My one other nagging thought about this book, is on early group work, especially as it pertains to creative writing. While this book nay-says the value of group work in creative writing for introverts, which is obvious and makes sense to me, I think more research work needs to be done in delving into those who “think” in their head or those who like to “speak it out” in order to process their thoughts and ideas. I know for myself I was a poor writer until I learned to “talk it out” in my head. Facilitated work with a teacher (not an untrained group of student as some classwork is now designed) might have helped improve my writing skills at an earlier age, and actually improved my intellectual thinking skills.
The author’s TED talk made in Long Beach, California in March of 2012 is an interesting overview of some portions of her book plus gives a few takeaways on making three final points. 1) Stop expecting group work to work for all – don’t disparage the introverts and work to let extroverts experience working solo 2) Go experience the wilderness – unplug! and she is not meaning just go out into nature. I think she means the wilderness of free time and space to think internally. 3) Introverts be willing to share what is inside.
I hope Ms. Cain will expound upon her work and explore this subject in a broader fashion, helping extroverts understand introverts and introverts understand extroverts.
So if you are introverted read the book, or if you are extroverted watch the TED Talk, let me know what you think.