Thursday, August 9, 2012

Introverts: a book you must read

My husband and I listen to non-fiction audiobooks on car trips (when we’re not reading fiction to each other).  Nerd power!  Anyway, one of our choices this summer was Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking.  I have to admit, I was astonished at the depth of the book.  I’d long known I was an introvert (thanks Myers-Briggs!), but I’ve never gone so far into understanding my own life and needs. 

One of the most astonishing things I learned was that "introvert" doesn’t mean "shy".  That goes a long way toward explaining why I’m so comfortable in front of a classroom or on a stage, but feel totally unanchored in a small group of new people at a party.  It turns out I’m not shy, I just don’t do well in a group of new people where one is expected to make small talk.  Small talk is tough for me, and I’m not one of those people who needs contact with others.  I’m content to spend hours on my own.  It’s usually my preference. 

That was my main takeaway from the book—it’s not weird at all that I don’t mind being the center of attention, but in intimate situations I’d rather be on my own.  Shyness has nothing to do with introversion—introverts want to be alone most of the time, but that doesn’t mean they can’t deal with an audience.  It explains why I do so well with job interviews.  In fact, I love job interviews.  I love talking in-depth about things I care about.  I just can’t engage with people I don’t know well on a superficial level.  

The point is, it’s a great book, well-researched and fun to read.  I recommend it for anyone with an introvert in her life, especially for families and teachers.  As the author points out, our world is geared toward rewarding extroverts, but the value in introverted natures is clear and worthy of further inspection.

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