November 8, 2012

By Koseli.

Have you heard of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking? I can’t believe I’m so late to the game. Susan Cain spent seven years researching, reading, and writing, and this is what she found:

At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over brainstorming in teams. Although they are often labeled “quiet,” it is to introverts that we owe many of the great contributions to society — from van Gogh’s sunflowers to the invention of the personal computer.

Fascinating! Her full Ted talk is here. I want to read Quiet to understand introversion — and thus myself — better. I crave solitude, nature, natural beauty, and thinking time, and I admit I feel half-alive when I don’t get it.

Would you consider yourself an introvert? Is your significant other? What effect does introversion have on your work style and interpersonal relationships?

Image via Cloud Cuckoo.

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{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sarah November 8, 2012 at 12:07 pm

I will definitely be reading this book. Why are people so uncomfortable by quiet people? This topic is very timely for me as just today I was sitting in a training session at work the leader pointed out that I’m the quiet one of the group. I am not a painfully shy person, but I am an introvert and there are many times I don’t have much to contribute when I’m in a large group setting like at a party or in a classroom setting. If I have something to say, I’ll say it, but I’m not going to say anything for the sake of talking. I don’t feel the need to put in my two cents. One of my former bosses hated that I was quiet and scolded me for it a few times. Once he embarassed me in front of a group of a table of people at a Christmas party. He had a little too much to drink. We were all laughing at something he said and out of the blue, he looked at me and said, “Sarah, you can talk once in a while.” When I was in grad school, a classmate felt the need to tell me, “You need to talk more (in class).” There are a lot of people I know that talk too much, but I would never tell them that. I feel like introversion is considered to be a flaw.


2 Sandi November 8, 2012 at 6:28 pm

I was once told I think too much…I was dumbfounded into silence by that observation, but later wished I had replied that perhaps the commenter didn’t think enough.

If we were to turn the tables on people who make disquieting comments, perhaps they wouldn’t be as prone to do so. :)


3 Meagan November 8, 2012 at 12:11 pm

It’s funny, I’m not at all quiet, but I’d still consider myself an introvert. I need lots of alone time to recharge. Struggling with this right now (because a toddler makes alone time sort of an endangered species)!


4 raquel November 8, 2012 at 12:21 pm

Love, love, love this post. Often growing up my dad would say to me – you are not shy you are an introvert. Love the power in this and the confidence it has given me. I’m curious to read this/hear the TED talk now.



5 Carol F. November 9, 2012 at 4:37 pm

See my reply to you at the bottom of the thread. I would categorize myself the same way you do. Having a toddler (and at one time I had three preschoolers at once) was one of the hardest times in my life because of the lack of alone time.


6 Nina Crittenden November 8, 2012 at 12:24 pm

Great post! Oh, my gosh… that video with the art and words was so amazing together. *happy sigh*


7 Gina November 8, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Yes, I would consider myself an introvert… which is why I think I like blogging so much. I post pictures I like, I write about what I like (chocolate) and make friends through a computer. After making friends and then meeting them in real life it is great because I have already gotten to know them. I struggle with first introductions… and especially self promotion. :) Nice article.


8 Koseli November 8, 2012 at 4:45 pm

Yes, the internet is a great place for introverts to gather. In their own time, and own way.


9 Eleni | My Paradissi November 8, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Thank you so much for this link! The speech is awesome and introverted people should listen to it really carefully!


10 Kathleen November 8, 2012 at 12:41 pm

I am halfway through this book right now and it’s a real eye-opener. I’ve really learned a lot about myself and many people I love. I am definitely an introvert and my husband even more so. One of the main premises of the book is that in the U.S. we idolize extroversion and hold it up as a cultural ideal (some of the chapters I haven’t read yet evaluate this a little more closely, looking at other cultures and how they deal with the introvert-extrovert spectrum). I could really relate to Sarah’s comment above, especially about not feeling the need to talk much in meetings or classrooms. I’ve always felt bad about this but I’m not going to anymore. It’s just the way I am and when I do say something, I try to make it meaningful. :)


11 Connie November 8, 2012 at 1:02 pm

I’m absolutely an introvert. It has made for some misunderstood first impressions of me by others, and people who don’t know that I’m such an introvert can mistake my silence for not listening, or not being friendly. It’s easier to be an introvert as an adult, because I have cultivated a group of friends that know me well and love me for who I am. I am married to an introvert, and we’re both aware of how we can be-I think it helps us communicate, and it’s nice to be in the company of someone who is at ease in the quiet, who I feel so comfortable and accepted by.

I’m totally looking into this one! Thanks for this!


12 Nina November 8, 2012 at 1:05 pm

Oh my! I live in NYC but come from the northern European country Finland, where just about everyone would be considered an introvert through US “standards”. We don’t know how to small-talk, we only talk facts or from the heart; we think self-promotion is a flaw rather than a virtue; we don’t make friends easily – but when do, they stay with us through out our lives. The Finns are a small nation, only 5.5 million, in a country as large as California, so I guess having lots of distance between us has made us this way. But happiness is not about what you are or what you have, it’s about your attitude towards it all. Introvert, extrovert – just be yourself. Everyone else is taken.


13 Koseli November 8, 2012 at 4:48 pm

This is fascinating to me, Nina. Thank you for sharing. Our thoughts on introversion/extroversion are definitely influenced by cultural ideals.


14 Victoria Regina November 8, 2012 at 1:08 pm

I’m pretty much an introvert: even though I do enjoy spending time with other people, and would consider myself reasonably outgoing with groups, that was something I had to teach myself to do, and I default to spending time by myself. It was a lot harder when I was younger, because there would be these large family gatherings, and I wasn’t allowed to go off by myself with a book because it was “rude”, but now that I get to decide when I leave a party, or whether or not to go out with X group of friends, I feel much less drained by social engagements.


15 Sarah H November 8, 2012 at 1:38 pm

I am an introvert. I think this improves my relationships with people, although I have fewer friends and acquaintances than extroverts, I like to think that the quality of these friendships is better. Also, I think that it encourages my children to be more independent. 2 of the 3 are introverts, and I feel like I identify with them better, although the extrovert is extremely amusing and fun to be around.


16 Maria @ Busy as a Bee in Paris November 8, 2012 at 2:18 pm

Oh! This post speaks to me because I am indeed an introvert! I also crave solitude, introspection, writing, creating, calm, peace and order! but there has to be a careful balance because if I go too long without social interaction, I get to feeling blue. Too much, on the other hand, drains me!! To feel alive, I need to be surrounded by close intimate relationships but especially I need to be able to escape to my quiet place to regenerate! Lovely post, thank you!


17 Zchamu November 8, 2012 at 3:17 pm

We had her speak at BlissDom Canada. She was brilliant and bang on. So many people had such revelations.


18 Jessica November 8, 2012 at 4:08 pm

This was my Bookclub choice a few months ago. It was very interesting. I feel like I now understand myself and my family better than before. It made me proud to be an introvert.


19 Koseli November 8, 2012 at 4:50 pm

I’m sure you had some great discussions in your book club, Jessica. So glad you’re proud to be an introvert. We need you.


20 R. Pyper November 8, 2012 at 4:14 pm

I teach English at a private university, and I always have my students take a test for Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences. If they score high in the intrapersonal area, they’re introverts — and they understand themselves better than others do. Pretty cool that Gardner saw and promoted this as a kind of intelligence.


21 Koseli November 8, 2012 at 4:52 pm

I’ve definitely heard of Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences. I think we should all take that test. It’s crucial to understand where you lean on the intrapersonal scale. Knowing that about yourself can save you a lot of grief and pain.


22 Sandi November 8, 2012 at 6:34 pm

I felt compelled to comment because although I am a life long extrovert, I wish I was more introverted and I am working to develop those qualities. I do really well at home, but as soon as I am with other people my natural inclination/desire to be the life of the party comes roaring to the surface. I hope I live long enough to tame that lion, because I am drawn to people who are gracefully quiet, and I long to be one of them.


23 Katie November 8, 2012 at 7:27 pm

As a lawyer and a person generally comfortable speaking in public, I always assumed I was an extrovert. I talked to my husband about this Ted talk and he laughed and said that I was definitely an introvert. It was like a light coming on for me. I don’t like group work, never have. I am drained, not energized by crowds and ever since I can remember I have snuck off to be by myself almost daily. I can see now that as a mother of 2 children under 3, I can see that one of the things that is causing me stress is that I never have alone time. I will have to refocus in light of these observations.


24 Bonnie @ the pin junkie November 8, 2012 at 7:46 pm

I’m definitely an introvert. Susan Cain’s book has been on my reading list for awhile. Hoping to find time to read it soon. You can see her on Ted Talks, too.


25 Sharon November 8, 2012 at 9:50 pm

I live on Mercer Island, near Seattle, WA. Susan Cain just came and spoke at our high school as a part of a parent education program that the schools on the Island support. She was great!


26 Roshanthi November 8, 2012 at 11:05 pm

My husband and I both read the book. Our whole family are introverts. You can find all of us at home quietly reading in our respective corners most of the time. Its the same with conversations, we nod and listen more. The book is enlightening for young people and kids who maybe struggling to be popular (i.e heard), without compromising who they really are.


27 Aline November 9, 2012 at 4:08 am

I’m definitely an introvert. And sometimes it’s pretty bad being one in my country. I live in Brazil and here – I don’t know exactly why… maybe because of our summer or climate – we are expect to be extrovert. And I was never one of it. I’m not good in small-talk, I don’t make friends easily, I prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying, I’m very creative – and I work with that – but I hate self-promotion and I don’t like to always talk about myself, my things, my life, my goals, my achievements. I only talk about it with family and intimate friends.
I use to suffer in school, because I was always the girl who prefers being in library than hanging on breaks or doing homeworks alone than in groups. But I had suportive parents who understand I was normal – just an introvert one. And I was always happy with my few but good friends, my lovely family, my books. Now I’m a writer and a creative person and I’m good with that! But I confess I would love to live in Europe. Probably because I identify myself with their personality better than here, in Brazil. I love here, people here are very warm and make you feel comfortable and cozy but being an introvert here isn’t so good to be accept.


28 Ivonne November 9, 2012 at 5:59 am

Great video! I find it very interesting to talk to teens about diversity and teamwork.


29 Valerie November 9, 2012 at 7:55 am

I too am an introvert, but not nearly as much as my husband. I grew up with my 9 siblings so I think I had to learn to speak up if I ever wanted to be heard, but I also loved slipping away from my loud family and reading for hours. What I didn’t think I would struggle with is my husband’s introversion, but it took me a while during our first year of marriage to realize that he needed his alone time, as much as I needed to talk his ear off to feel like we have connected for the day. It was a learning curve, but now we’re better balanced. The only thing I still have a problem with is how my family views him, because from their extroverted perspective his extreme quietness is a problem to be fixed, and so I feel as though they don’t really know him like I do. Also, I think it is generally much harder for men to be introverts, because those traits appear less masculine to the American standard.


30 amy c November 9, 2012 at 9:01 am

I am so an introvert!! And my husband is too. I am comfortable and animated with my family and close friends but feel completely out of place with large groups and people I don’t know very well. I crave time alone and at this point in my life feel like I’m begging for it a lot. I like quiet and peace so motherhood has definitely been a lesson in adjusting to noise. :) The book looks so interesting and I hope to watch the video whenever I get some alone time. Haha!


31 Carol F. November 9, 2012 at 4:34 pm

A twist on this theme of introversion is the concept of “highly sensitive person” which is mostly composed of introverts, though there are extroverts in it like myself. I sort of “became” extroverted (probably a no-no in the book above) over time but still need recuperation/alone time like Meagen mentioned. A “highly sensitive person” (HSP) is very sensitive to details, art/music, rules, etc. It does not mean that they get offended a lot! Check here for a self test: http://www.hsperson.org. Dr. Elaine Aron makes it very clear that introversion is not the same thing as HSP, but I just think that it might be interesting for introverts to consider both characteristics.


32 ali lanenga November 9, 2012 at 6:30 pm

this made me feel more justified in being myself. speaking of awesome TED talks have you seen this one? it’s also beautiful.



33 Jennifer O. November 13, 2012 at 11:08 am

I read this book and loved it. It felt like such a validation of what I already knew about myself and how I experienced the world around me. I could clearly see the “coping mechanisms” I had come up with, and no longer felt bad about limiting the number of social things I do. Wanting to go home and be alone after s long day of being surrounded by others doesn’t make me anti-social! I wish I could make my extrovert friends read this to understand.


34 l o v e l y t h i n g s November 14, 2012 at 7:24 am

wow! I just watched and listened…ordering the book. Loved the video on sooooo many levels.


35 Christine @ 24 Carrot Kitchen January 14, 2013 at 1:38 pm

I recently read this book and loved it! It helped me to appreciate my introverted side. I do like spending time with people, but need plenty of time to think and create.


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