For a book with such a simple title, it sure packs a hard punch! One would not have thought that its contents would have sparked a worldwide dialogue. But as the author said in her TED talk, her experiences and those that she had shared in her book were just some of the many instances of moments where people were made to feel that their quiet nature just ‘wasn’t the way to go’ and they should try to be more outgoing and extroverted. As the title itself clearly shows, the book talks about introverts.
It’s more than just any other store-bought book on human character and personality. Susan Cain has weaved in true life stories from celebrities, entrepreneurs and your average Joes that strike a chord with the very real problems faced by introverts in an extroverted world. In simple words, she tells of how differently these two personality types function and how being more outgoing may not always be what’s best. Where extroverts thrive in social gatherings, introverts feel drained and worn out after being around large crowds of people. Where extroverts enjoy making and keeping many friendships, introverts are happiest in a close-knit group of friends. It’s no surprise, then, when an introvert actually prefers quiet times at home reading a book as opposed to going out to parties.
She confronts the problems of a society where everyone is encouraged to speak up, speak more and speak loud but seldom ever asked to stop, be quiet and think. In schools, teachers are often more accommodating towards the talkative student who fires out ideas and opinions left, right and centre. The quiet students however, aren’t quiet for lack of ideas, merely the lack of ideas which they find worthy of being said. Tackling the issue of being made to feel like an outsider in a noisy world, Cain talks about the strengths of an introverted nature that could be harnessed if one could just overcome that barrier of fear. Often, introverts have a hard time conveying their thoughts and ideas to a wide audience, being more comfortable telling them to smaller groups of people. In embracing that part of your personality, it is important to not let it get in the way of your dreams. She shares her ideas on how she thinks schools and workplaces could be more introvert-friendly and still be as efficient and productive as they have always been – maybe even more so.
With the success of her book, Cain has launched a website aimed to empower those quiet souls who wish to harness their powers to their full potentials. Various articles, an advisory board, workshops and even a manifesto are included on the site. By exposing the many problems and fears faced by introverts, Cain has created a worldwide network of like-minded individuals that are always there to give each other encouragement and inspiration to get them comfortable and confident in their own skin. Understanding ourselves better and knowing our own strengths and weaknesses are essential towards embracing and being in control of ourselves. Only then can we reach our goals. This book is not just meant to be read by those who identify themselves as introverts, but for readers of every character. Everyone can benefit from learning to be quiet when the occasion calls for it.