Quiet – by Susan Cain

During recent travels, I had the opportunity to do a fair bit of reading. One of the better books that I read was Quiet. In this book, Susan Cain explores introversion in a way that I’ve not seen it discussed elsewhere. She not only dispels some of the common mythology around introversion, she explains that introversion is not a “one size fits all” phenomena. There are many shades of introversion in existence, and it does not look the same in any two people.

Ms. Cain goes on to explain the necessity and contributions made by introverts in organizations (and society generally). She also talks about the environment in which introverts work best – most of which flies in the face of the “open concept mania” that is sweeping work places as of late. Finally, she explores interpersonal relationships as seen from the introvert’s lens, including a discussion of working with children who demonstrate introversion, being in a relationship with an introvert, and working with introverts.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who is working in a school, whether you are a classroom teacher or part of the leadership team. It is a given that we will have introvert students in the mix – but have we fully considered the importance of having introversion among our faculty and leadership? Without it, we may very well be shortchanging  the learning and development of a significant part of our student population. Even worse, without the contributions and thinking of introverts, important considerations and creative thinking may be absent in the decision making processes that exist within the schoolhouse. Ms. Cain presented compelling evidence that the thoughtful, detailed thinking that introverts bring to the table is precisely what can lead organizations to better outcomes.

In reading the descriptors of introverts who “put on an extrovert persona” to do their work, after which they need some alone-time to recover from the extroversion efforts, a kernel of truth rang out for me. While I can be up in front and engage an audience, and I can tackle public speaking as needed, and I can lead and facilitate large groups, I often find myself needing some quiet time at home or in my office following such efforts. I had never really considered myself to be an introvert – and I may not be a true introvert. But in Quiet‘s explorations of introversion I certainly saw a lot of myself in some of the people Ms. Cain highlighted in her narrative. I imagine that many others who read this book had a similar experience.

Are you Quiet? If so, know that you are in very good company – approximately 40% of the population trends towards introversion.