Cheerio, dear readers! It's Dr. Hinson here, AR's resident introvert, with my thoughts on a truly empowering book. Susan Cain's exceptionally well-researched deep-dive into understanding the psychology and biology of introversion is a must read for any introvert, or the people who live, love, and work with them.
Though her book, "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking," covers everything from the history of cultural perception of extroversion and introversion, to how to deal with introverted children, as parents or teachers, I'll be focusing on the book's helpful information for the work place. Since we'll soon be launching a mini-course on understanding your office introverts (sign up here for more information), there was a lot of useful knowledge imparted through Cain's research.
She opens her book explaining the science behind personality traits, and reveals that even though we perpetuate a myth that we are a nation of extroverts, according to research data 1/3 to 1/2 of all Americans fall on the introverted side of the spectrum. That means in any given professional situation, from the lecture hall to the business lunch, almost half of the people present could consider themselves introverts at heart.
Cain details how introverts learn to behave in a society that still projects qualities of extroversion (outgoing, quick-thinking, risk-taking) as ideal. I certainly identified with her use of "pseudo-extrovert" to express how I have learned to project a more extroverted version of myself throughout my professional career. But perhaps most importantly, with a focus on the great traits that introverts possess, Cain's book is empowering. Instead of arguing how introverts can fit into what she calls the "Extrovert Ideal," she argues firmly that introverts should embrace their traits and the skills these traits derive from.
In harnessing the true power of introverts -- people who are thoughtful, strategic, sensitive, introspective, and detail-oriented -- instead of insisting they ascribe to societal norms, we can make the most of their talents as hard-working, dedicated, and considerate employees. Ensuring the introverts in your office are not only utilized but highly valued takes awareness and intentionality. The first step to developing that level of awareness, really should be with reading this book. As a lifelong introvert, Cain's book was inspiring if also reassuring. No matter where you fall on the spectrum of introversion to extroversion, there is space for you to follow your passion and make a difference.