I have read more books recently with so much more travelling. Susan Cain wrote the book I finished most recently, called Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking. A provoking title and filled with a good level of research and stories talking about how today’s society views introversion as a negative trait, but can actually provide people and organisations with positive outcomes.
What I liked about the book
Cain provides a different, refreshing perspective about the strengths introverts can offer. She highlights (mostly American) cultural influences that make it difficult for people with introverted tendencies to operate and some practical suggestions along the way on balancing the needs. For example, introverts often need time to digest, prefer to do deep analytical thinking and need time to restore after heavy interaction with many people. Another example is that extroverts tend to take more risk, particularly under stressful conditions, while introverts tend to take more take.
The book made me think about practices like “pair programming” and how agile methods impact introverted people and their need for space. Sidenote: I don’t see agile methods working against introverts but just that necessary balance must be found
I particularly enjoyed the section where Cain discussed how people with different extroversion/introversion tendencies can find a way to live, work and love together. It reminded me of interests based negotiation over positional based negotiation and that if people focused on what their needs were, instead of outcomes, they might find a new, slightly different solution that work for both parties.
What others might struggle with in the book
Although Cain references a lot of research, the contents appear to me more anecdotal. She approaches this early in the book, writing about different definitions of introversion and peppers disclaimers throughout the book that “not all introverts act the same”. She also references studies but warns they are not conclusive because these are in early stages. For some, this may be a killer, but for me, still provided an interesting read.
At times, the guidance can be confusing. In some parts of the book, the message I took was that introverts don’t need to adopt extrovert characteristics. In others, I felt like the guidance changed to sometimes introverts need to adopt extrovert characteristics but they will need to time recharge and it helps to do so in areas you enjoy.
In some part of the book, Cain describes the world being at least thirty to fifty percent being made up of introverts. Some may be better at hiding it. I think everyone should read this book to understand more about a group that will naturally be more quiet and why that is.