Quiet! Introverts Living in an Extroverted World

Feb 2, 2012, 4:06 PM | Updated: Feb 10, 2012, 1:25 pm

By Rachel Belle

quiet book

Listen to Quiet! Introverts Living in an Extrovert’s World

I am an extrovert. I get energized by hanging out with lots of people, strike up conversations with strangers and often speak without thinking. Truthfully, I have always had a bit of a hard time understanding introverted people. I wonder what they’re thinking about when they’re being quiet and if they’re having fun at parties.

Susan Cain is the author of a new book called Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.

“Introverts are usually perceived as being anti-social and it has nothing to do with this. It’s really just a different way of being social. Because what [being an] introvert really is, is a preference for lower stimulation environments. That has nothing to do with ‘Do you like people or not?’ They just want to connect in these quieter ways.”

Cain’s talks about how we live in a word where extroverts are celebrated and preferred.

“There is a real presumption in our society that the ideal self is an extrovert and we internalize this view from a very early age. Studies show that the majority of teachers believe that the ideal student is an extrovert, even though introverts get better grades.”

She says it continues through life into our careers.

“We increasingly organize our work places in big, open offices where people don’t have any privacy. Extroverts are routinely groomed for leadership positions and introverts passed over. Even though there’s interesting new research from Adam Grant, from the Wharton School, that introverted leaders often deliver better outcomes than extroverts do.”

She offers some advice for introverts to stay true to themselves, but still get ahead.

“What you’ve got to do is find authentic ways of drawing naturally on who you are. For example, if you’re in a meeting, find out what you’re going to be talking about and prepare, which is what many introverts like to do. So, know what you’re going to say, instead of thinking on the fly, which introverts hate. You don’t have to be saying things in the loudest voice. If you have an inner conviction, it will have a way of making itself felt.”

Cain says that introverts and extroverts draw from each other, which is why there are often many couples and friends who are one or the other. She says extroverts make introverts feel light and carefree, while extroverts appreciate being able to discuss more serious topics with their introvert friends.

Most important of all, Cain says to go with what you got and don’t deny your inner introvert.

“One of the most poignant things I found while doing my book research, is how many feel such a deep sense of a shame about who they are because they have absorbed all the cultural biases against their own self. But at the same time, I also do council people that it is good and healthy for all of us, extroverts included, to sometimes act outside of our natural temperaments.”

Quiet Quiz: Are You an Introvert or an Extrovert?
Excerpted from: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

To find out where you fall on the introvert-extrovert spectrum, answer each question True or False, choosing the one that applies to you more often than not.

1. ______ I prefer one-on-one conversations to group activities.

2. ______ I often prefer to express myself in writing.

3. ______ I enjoy solitude.

4. ______ I seem to care about wealth, fame, and status less than my peers.

5. ______ I dislike small talk, but I enjoy talking in depth about topics that matter to me.

6. ______ People tell me that I’m a good listener.

7. ______ I’m not a big risk-taker.

8. ______ I enjoy work that allows me to “dive in” with few interruptions.

9. ______ I like to celebrate birthdays on a small scale, with only one or two close friends or family members.

10. ______ People describe me as “soft-spoken” or “mellow.”

11. ______ I prefer not to show or discuss my work with others until it’s finished.

12. ______ I dislike conflict.

13. ______ I do my best work on my own.

14. ______I tend to think before I speak.

15.______ I feel drained after being out and about, even if I’ve enjoyed myself.

16. ______I often let calls go through to voice mail.

17. ______If you had to choose, I’d prefer a weekend with absolutely nothing to do to one with too many things scheduled.

18. ______ I don’t enjoy multitasking.

19. ______ I can concentrate easily

20. ______ In classroom situations, I prefer lectures to seminars.

The more often you answered True, the more introverted you are. This is an informal quiz, not a scientifically validated personality test. The questions were formulated based on characteristics of introversion often accepted by contemporary researchers.

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Quiet! Introverts Living in an Extroverted World