Bringing Balance to the Force: the power of Introverts (and Extroverts)

quiet For me, it's clear that I think highly of a book when I start talking about it with everyone I encounter, even before I'm finished. Such was the case with Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain.

Sure, it's a book about introverts, as the title suggests, but there is so much more to it than that. It's obvious that, as an introvert, Susan cares about introverts. She writes so that they will know themselves better, respond better to their surroundings and know how to articulate their personalities and needs.

I did not expect the generous helping of balance which I found in these pages. She doesn't only care about extroverts in as far as they grow to appreciate introverts, she cares about them because they are people, and because there is a reason why both introverts and extroverts walk the earth. There is a beautiful tribute to her grandfather in the back of the book, a minister when he was alive, and I wonder if she, like me, believes that God knew what He was doing when He created people to be different and still have to work together.

Either way, this book brims with truth and productivity. As an introvert, I realized that our culture has told me thousands of things about myself that are wrong, for as long as I can remember. Although I consider myself to be a fairly well-rounded person, and even a confident person most of the time, I was surprisingly relieved to hear descriptions of introverts that were positive, varied (all introverts are not alike, just as all extroverts are not alike) and most of all, presented as an option that is all right.

There were several times that I found myself sighing with relief. Oh, wow, maybe that's how I was created to be.

Photo by luzmabertolotto/flckr/creative commons

For quick contrast, I give you another example from my childhood: The Birth Order Book. After I read it, I spent hours crying because I was a perfectionist and would never ever be able to change ever and what a horrible, terrible thing it is to be a perfectionist.

That book made me feel hopeless, powerless, this book made me feel like I was a great idea that God had.

For example, here is a quote which relates to the extrovert ideal so prevalent in our culture: that extroverts are the way everyone should be.

We tend to think of coolness as a pose that you strike with a pair of sunglasses, a nonchalant attitude, and drink in hand. But maybe we didn't choose these social accessories at random. Maybe we've adopted dark glasses, relaxed body language and alcohol as signifiers precisely because they camouflage signs of a nervous system on overdrive...When you go to a football game and someone offers you a beer, says the personality psychologist Brian Little, "they're really saying hi, have a glass of extroversion."

Susan spent five years researching the material for this book. The care that she put into her research is evident in every word. I do not often feel that way about a book, so I thought that I would tell you.

In general, I find that I do not write in books. I remember when I found out that C.S. Lewis would scribble all over his library and make copious notes in the back. It shocked me. Little by little, I've underlined a bit here and there. This book compelled me to pick up my pen and underline line after line.

Whether you are an introvert, or an extrovert who loves one, parents one or works with one (even if you don't know it yet, introverts can be sneaky) I think that you should read this book. Not only will you understand yourself better, no matter where you fall on this continuum, but I would venture to say that if we took some of what is here and allowed it to change how we relate to people and give them grace, we would revolutionize relationships of all kinds.

Read an excerpt here. Watch Susan's TED talk here. Read her Introvert Q&A here.

Let me know what you think!

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.