This reading is part of a book called “Quiet” by Susan Cain. In this book, she explores the dynamics surrounding introverted and extroverted personalities.
The first part of the book discusses various subjects that revolve around different forms of personalities. Some of the issues addressed by this book include the myths surrounding the superiority of extroverts. Because of my introverted personality, the book communicated to me in a big way.
We live in a world where extroversion is a revered value and introverts are under constant pressure to “change”. The book is a work of research exploring various personalities in different environments. It was also easy for me to relate to most of the examples used by the author.
The first part of this book starts by exploring how extroversion became a culturally ideal personality trait. According to the writer, in the period before eighteenth century introversion was more revered than extroversion. After 1900, the country was entering into a new economic era that was highly dependent on sales people.
Because extroverts make better salespersons, the demand for people with more outward personalities soared. The writer uses the story of a Dale, a poor farm boy who alters his personality, to illustrate this point. In this story, Dale perfects the art of public speaking and with great results.
Personally, I am familiar with public speaking clubs. Those who attend such clubs do so in the hope that they will break barriers. This is a common obsession nowadays. However, in the years before the eighteenth century, people were contented with their inherent traits.
The book also covered recent developments in American culture. The self-help culture is one of them. This culture of anything self-help shot to prominence in the turn of the century and continued to gain prominence in the 2000s.
Today, it is almost impossible to watch television for a few hours without coming across a self-help themed advertisement. Most of these self-help tips are always encouraging the shift from introversion to extroversion.
It is also true that most of these self-help programs target introverts. Currently almost every bookstore you walk into has a whole section on self –help books. There is also a chance that this section features some of the bestselling books. The book attributed this development to changing economic times. The idea in today’s society is that people have to “sell it not to say it” and people have to “say it in order to sell it” (Cain 33).
The book also incorporates basic psychology into the subject. It is noted that most psychologists are in favor of extroversion. Some psychological traits such as inferiority complex have at times been attributed to one’s personality.
Extroversion has also been used as a marketing tool. Some companies confuse customers into thinking that personality traits can be derived from using certain products. Medicine manufacturing companies have also taken advantage of this cultural affliction. For instance, the writer had noted a time when anti-anxiety medication was flying off the shelves.
All these are some of the circumstances under which extroverts became revered. Some of these developments seem unavoidable while others seem like they were created by the people themselves. The next aspect of extroversion that is addressed in this book is its association with leadership. This part covers the people who are most admired in the world today. It is also estimated that it has been about one hundred years since extroversion became an ideal personality.
Before writing this part, the author had attended a conference organized by popular motivational speaker Tony Robbins. Robbins is described as a gigantic man with an extremely extroverted personality. The author also gives an overview of the attendees and their expectations.
It is clear that most people whether they are introverts or extroverts are extremely attracted to extroverted personalities. Robbins Charisma is likened to that of President Obama mostly due to the reactions he drew from the crowd during his presentation. Another conclusion that can be made from this scenario is that the magnetism exuded by extroverts cannot be matched by introverts.
The author also admits to visiting the Harvard Business School to gauge the level of introversion among the scholars. At this prestigious institution, it was found that introverts were mostly unwelcome.
The few that were there found it very hard to adapt to the prevailing environment. The administration put a lot of effort in trying to “eliminate” any introversion among the students. Schools were traditionally meant to impact knowledge. However, it seems that changing mannerisms and personalities has become an equally important endeavor.
Another noteworthy point in this subject is the relationship between charisma and extroversion. It is clear that among historical figures, extroverts are more memorable. In the example of Rosa Park’s protest, it is noted that her introverted tendencies diminished her perceived charisma. However, it is noted that her introversion was a strategic advantage to the Montgomery Bus Protest.
The next stop in the author’s journey to explore introversion was a church in California. Here there were two pastors; one was an extrovert and the other an introvert. The introvert pastor seems out of place in this system. On the other hand, the extrovert pastor has made great progress. The only difference between these two is their personalities. In evangelism like in sales, an extroverted personality is a great asset. The purpose of this extroversion in church environment is closely related to economic success.
In the last chapter of this part, the issue of collaboration is investigated. According to the author, “collaboration kills creativity.” The author supports this claim by noting that some of the greatest inventions in the world were not made through collaborations. An example of Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is used to prove this point.
The author is clearly defending introversion in this case. However, exchange of ideas is said to be of great benefit to the creative process. The general idea is that being an extrovert is not a requirement for being an inventor. Albert Einstein, one of the greatest inventors in the history of humanity, confessed to working better when he was alone. This premise was confirmed in a study that found that computer programmers who work in more private environments, produce better results.
This book turned out to be one of the most exciting ones I have come across lately. The author was able to turn her topic into an exciting debate. Even though her goal in the book was to defend introverts, she did it very delicately and avoided getting personal on the subject. It is also amazing to see how far her research took her. She moved around the country on a fact-finding mission that finally bore fruit.
Cain, Susan. Quiet: The power of Introverts in a World That Can’t stop Talking, New York, New York: Crown, 2012. Print.