Quiet is about introverts, and how they function in today's world, and how they get lost under all the noise of the loud and extroverted world we work, play, and live in everyday. Introverts--and there are many of us--are those who prefer to work in a quiet space, enjoy conversations with small groups of people instead of large, loud parties, and work best being creative when they have space and peace. They think things through before making decisions, and are more apt, as leaders, to provide opportunities for other people to try out their ideas. Extroverts thrive on the fast pace, the aliveness of today's world; they are charismatic and ebullient; they are most of our leaders. Donald Trump, I think you're an extrovert.
This is not to say all extroverts are bad, and all introverts are delicate creatures. Susan Cain stresses that the world needs both, and we need to be aware of how each works best. Anyone who has sat in a meeting and been told to "brainstorm" shudders at the thought. Much better to have everyone go to their separate spaces, come up with their ideas, and then get together to discuss a plan of action. As the author says, the person who speaks the loudest is not always the person who has the best idea; why should we automatically assume they do--and why take the chance that they don't have the best idea?
What struck me the most about this book was the understanding I now have of myself. No one is a complete introvert or extrovert; we all fall somewhere on the scale. But what makes an introvert push past their apprehension of standing up in front of people, or speaking up at a meeting, is their passion for the cause they support. I would not want to get up in front of people and talk about computer programming, because it's not something that interests me, and I would be very uneasy being the focus of all those eyes. But, give me a book to talk about that I love and I think people should read--I have no problem standing in front of a crowd of people and talking about it. When you have something you believe in (for me, it's books and reading), you as an introvert can use those extrovert characteristics to speak up.
So I'm okay with preferring to sit at home and read a book instead of going to a noisy bar. I continue to love having coffee and chatting with a small group of friends about books, life, and whatever else we having going on in our lives. I am okay with being quiet and listening, but I will stand up and be heard if I have something to say. And yes, it's okay if I'm tired and a bit drained after spending a weekend with my large, loud, family. I can be large and loud with them, too. But I know that I'll need to go home and spend time in the quiet afterwards.
If you think you may have an introverted child, or even an extroverted child, read this book. It will go a long way towards helping you understand your child, and how they approach the world. Too many people are told they are too quiet, and meek. They're not meek. They just are more alive and fully functioning in a quiet space. Creativity needs some solitude sometimes in order to pop out. There is too much pressure on all of us to be loud, work as a team all the time, and be "on". Well for some of us, it's exhausting, and for some of us, it's just not the way we roll. And that is okay.
Rating: 8/10 for an enlightening look at what being extroverts and introverts mean; how the world has changed over the past 100 years to embrace extroverts, and how introverts can thrive and succeed in their own quiet way.
Available in paperback, audio, and e-book format.