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Once I had finished watching Cain’s TED talk, I was hooked on this quietly cheerful, pleasant woman who only wanted to share with people the real power of the introvert. That’s why I decided to pick up one of her novels, and later write a review of the book Quiet.
Many may figure that Cain wrote the book as a sort of congratulatory statement for the introverted. She spends a great deal of Quiet, in fact, talking at length about the power of the introverted that many may not be aware of. However, Cain’s story is truly an examination of what it means to be quiet and engage in a fair bit of self-reflection. Cain encourages us, as readers, to embrace our inner quietude, and to realize that there is more to being introverted than meets the eye.
With a simple treatise about what it means to be Quiet, Cain offers readers a powerful key to empowerment. Introverts no longer have to consider themselves the quiet ones who hold no real power. Rather, they are the ones who have a very unique understanding about themselves and the world around them.
Cain reflects on the dominance of the largely male culture and how society often takes a look at introverts as lacking leadership potential. She also questions corporate needs for forced collaboration, noting that it often kills creativity and the innovation that comes out of those solitary, quiet moments that she says we all can draw on.
Quiet also takes the time to examine the lives of successful leaders who thrive on solitude and quiet although they seem like what Cain might call “pretend extroverts”.
This is not so much a book as it is a handbook and an earnest discussion, if not a plea, to not abandon the introverts of the world simply because they do not grab on to the extroversion that is so dominant in today’s society.
Cain believes, for instance, that it’s solitude, and not collaboration, that drives creativity.
Think about it; how many times have you had an incredible idea for something and you were alone? These ideas may come in the shower, while you are hanging out at the park, or anything like that, but the big point is in all of this is generally, creativity happens most often when you are on your own.
Cain has a point. We live in a world where if someone seems too silent, we instantly think something is wrong, and this is not always the case.
For whatever reason, those that speak up frequently are celebrated while those who are quiet and introverted tend to be looked at as though something is amiss. This is not the case, however; there are several million people across the globe who consider themselves introverted, and books like Quiet help us realize that the introverted among us simply have a different way of operating.
She outlines various settings in which introverts, like the rest of humanity, function, and these include settings such as personal relationships, business or organizational meetings, and childhood.
Cain argues in favour of ambiversion.
While Cain does assert that introverts are often misunderstood as being shy, she also notes that extroversion is perhaps celebrated a little too eagerly, and argues for a balance of the two, or ambiversion.
Quiet reminds all of us that introverts are not just shy people who are reluctant to speak out. They are thinkers, creators and more importantly, people who simply need more quiet to recharge after interaction with a lot of people or in other scenarios where their introverted personalities might get drained easily.
Quiet and books like it are important reminders that we need to not simply judge a book by its cover, and that we need to look beyond the superficial layers of the introvert or pseudo-extrovert to the introspection that’s going on underneath.
The book does drag a bit, but Cain’s passion in speaking about quiet individuals is clear throughout the book.
Those who identify as extroverts will perhaps dismiss it as being too celebratory of introverts, but care needs to be taken to ensure that people understand that this is not Cain’s intent.
Quiet is a book that needed to be written. So much has been said about introverts in the past that is negative that many are now afraid to identify as such.
Quiet very definitely gives both introverts and extroverts a lot to think about and consider as they proceed through their work and personal lives.