Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

I’ve been fascinated with things related to personality for years. Back in my undergrad days, when I thought I would be an ag teacher someday, I studied up on learning styles. That involved a brush with Myers-Briggs and Keisey-Bates.

I’ve been addicted ever since. On the one hand, it has given me a lens to understanding both myself and the others around me. On the other hand, it makes a fun parlor game when all else fails (not that I ever leave my house, mind you).

When the chance to read Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking came up through the Patheos Book Club, I couldn’t say yes fast enough.

My husband is an introvert of a pretty high order. And I suspect at least one of my children will pan out to be slightly introverted. I’m a confirmed extrovert, but I have a keen interest–and maybe a wanna-be attitude–about the introverts I know and love.

Quiet is a book that should be required reading for…well, for a lot of people I know. I think I’ve raved about it enough that my husband will read it. Or at least glance through most of it. I found it to be applicable to parents, businesspeople, teachers, and introverts of all stripes. Reading it as an extrovert, I found it gave voice to many of the things I’ve long admired about others and hated about myself.

My hot temper and flash responses? No, I can’t blame them all on extroversion, but that doesn’t help. Living with Mr. Self-Discipline is quite a school in introversion and the good side effects.

As I was reading through the schooling Cain provides throughout the book, which took her at least five years to research and write, I couldn’t help but realize that I’m more introverted than anyone ever thought.

“I think I’m part introvert!” I announced one night, almost triumphantly, as I was reading one of the chapters.

My husband was unable to speak because he was laughing so hard. When I shared the same sentiment the next day in the parish office, one of my colleagues was struck speechless (I’m not sure I’ve ever had that effect on her before).

But it’s true. I am. And maybe we all are, to some extent. Cain uses nearly 300 pages and countless real-life examples, case studies, and research references to examine what it means to be introverted. She looks at how introversion affects the way both those who are and those who are around them approach the world. She considers ways we can better tap into the “power” of introversion (our own and others’).

This book fits nicely into a category of reading and research that I barely restrain myself from just disappearing into (probably because I’m not an introvert?). It helped me understand myself as an extrovert and those introverts I love. It made me appreciate even more the strengths those introverts bring to the table–Cain gave voice to things I have observed and noticed but haven’t articulated.

Have we made the Extrovert Ideal something that hides the power of the introverted way of life? I suspect there’s no ideal in being far on one extreme or the other. The loudmouths do usually get the attention (and I am guilty of being one of that band), but I’ll bet the people who aren’t piping up don’t have nothing to say. In fact, if those of us with all the energy would harness it to listening to the other half, our world would be a much more interesting place.

All in all, highly recommended. I’d lend you my copy, but there’s a (they don’t know they’re on it yet) waiting list. :)

About Sarah Reinhard

Looking for Sarah Reinhard? Chances are she's hiding from her kids with her nose in a book...which is just too bad for the housework and cooking. Her greatest delight of late is how her kids are becoming bigger bibliophiles than she is. (And she's really only a beginner and a hack at that.) She’s online at SnoringScholar.com, CatholicMom.com, and is the author of a number of books.

  • http://thebackroomcatholic.wordpress.com Epicus Montaigne

    This is a great post, I’ve always found Myers-Briggs especially interesting. I guess I’ll have to go out and get this book (my wife’s an introvert. I was 95% Extrovert on Myers-Briggs. So that’s 5% introvert, right?)

  • http://www.LiveCatholic.net Marcy K.

    I love the Personality Plus books published by Thomas Nelson. The author is Florence Littauer. http://www.amazon.com/Personality-Plus-Understand-Understanding-Yourself/dp/080075445X It was originally recommended to me by my spiritual director and the books are easy to read, enjoyable and just all around fantastic. It completely changed how I understand people and have helped me so much. There are a set of Catholic books – The Temperament God Gave You that is also good, but I find the Littauer books so much fun. Having met you at CMN last year I just can’t see you as an introvert (like me.) Your library may have the book.

    • http://snoringscholar.com Sarah Reinhard

      Going to have to check those out, Marcy! :) I’m NOT an introvert, not really, but there’s a streak…

  • Margaret Rose Realy

    Yes! This introvert want’s her own copy too.

  • willduquette

    Introvert: that would be me. :-)

  • Oregon Catholic

    “Have we made the Extrovert Ideal something that hides the power of the introverted way of life?”

    As a serious introvert I would say yes. I find my characteristics of quiet reflection often get trampled and de-valued in the workplace by my more gregarious co-workers. I believe it also works against me that I am not a party animal among the many office party animals who bond over drinks and gossip after work while I am heading home to recover my equilibrium from the office energy suck. However, if we have to start working from home, as might be the case, I will shine and they will go mad. Heh, heh.


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