Saturday, May 12, 2012

Quiet. The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain

First of all, thanks to Bob for alerting me to the book and for the review here which should give you the impetus to go out and get it.

I saw a hell of a lot of myself in the book. I have spent a lifetime trying to avoid situations made for extroverts. I really cannot bear gatherings of more than a few people and the idea of pretending to be a social butterfly makes me feel like a lost boy. I spent 17 years till last June in my own tiny office, shutting the door at lunchtime, only communicating with individual people when I had to or when I wanted a bit of a chat.

Now I'm in an open plan office, people in front of me, behind me and to the side of me. There is music and talk. I try to shut them all out and concentrate on my work but it's hard. I've luckily discovered a nice quiet cafe where I can go to lunch to recharge from the overstimulation of the office. I'm so glad I'm only working there three days a week.

The book is well worth reading but...

It is the concentration on the success stories, the find yourself a career you are most suited to, the whatever your interest is, keep to it, study it to be the best at it you can, the presumption that you are a deep-feeling, deep-thinking special person, that we all have something to contribute because there is something out there for everyone, that there are opportunities if you choose correctly and you study hard because you are damned clever and don't rush into things and there are so many introvert success stories who are the best at what they do because they are introverts.

Maybe there is another book to be written about how being an introvert in an extrovert world can fuck you up and make you think life is not worth living, maybe those of us who don't have the right stuff and never had an interest in anything that could make us money.

I have been lucky, I have been able to cope and I've been able to earn money in spite of my quietness, lucky to have worked for a firm for many years that valued diligent work which didn't need great intelligence or a degree in bullshit.

Anyway, power to Obama the introvert and his eradication of poverty in the good old US of A.


  1. That's just Americans for you. Bloody optimistic chirpy ambitious bastards. Us Europeans are much more gloomy & accustomed to failure.

    I did like the video of her talk on TED though. I wish I'd seen or read this when I was a teenager and finding socialising hard. It wasn't me, it was them, after all.

  2. I'm not an extrovert.

    I just play one on my blog.

  3. Annie - But she needed a prop for her talk. She just couldn't be herself! There are a few extroverts who need to read this book who won't and will continue to dig themselves deeper into their self-made holes.

    MJ - As long as we don't have to get on stage to read it out!

  4. Anonymous5:30 AM

    I do sympathise. I can't stand open plan offices -- the racket, and the way everything becomes too collective.

    Extroversion is a new orthodoxy, the failure to possess which is the latest way in which we can feel bad about ourselves.

  5. I'm glad I'm old.