{at this moment: quiet}


I often struggle a bit with how much I want to share and promote. "Struggle" is the perfect word to use in my case because I really do want to be more gregarious, chatting everyone up on Twitter and joining conversations. I want to join social campaigns that bring communities together. I want to go to cocktail parties and work the room, engaging in lively conversation. While I certainly have my moments in the sun, when they do happen, I find myself needing quiet reflective time after. To be social or not to be social - this is my tug of war. I'll be honest with you, I berate myself whenever I lose the battle. I mean, isn't the whole point of blogging and all the social platforms that exist to be more social, not less?

At the beginning of this month, I read the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain. I was prepared to read this book to gain a better understanding about the differences between extroverts and introverts. Before reading this book, if I had to casually put myself into one camp, I would reluctantly peg myself as an introvert.  However, something I wasn't prepared for as a result of reading this book was understanding myself better and realizing that being an introvert isn't a bad word.




I guess I don't have to tell you that I found this book fascinating. Not only does it explain the difference between extroverts and introverts, and how each has their own unique benefits, the book also debunks some popular social myths. I'll give you one example, many offices around the nation are transitioning to open floor plan spaces - "The Rise of the New Groupthink". Research has proven that open floor plans are not conducive to employees' best work efforts, especially in terms of introverts who need quiet time and solitude to think. The book also points out the many ways in which our culture is extrovert-driven and how it tries to make introverts more extroverted. A slippery slope considering our nation's most recent financial collapse was driven by what seems to have been an overabundance of extroverts in charge, or at least according to the book; a balance of the two traits is what makes our culture thrive as we need one who is ready to take action and another who is researching all the what-ifs. (Interesting, right?)

Anyway, I'll give you a quick synopsis of each personality trait as defined by the book and then let you decide which camp you fall into:

Extroverts are the people who will add life to your dinner party and laugh generously at your jokes. They tend to be assertive, dominant, and in great need of company. Extroverts think out loud and on their feet; they prefer talking to listening, rarely find themselves at a loss for words, and occasionally blurt out things they never meant to say. They're comfortable with conflict, but not with solitude.

Introverts, in contrast, may have strong social skills and enjoy parties and business meetings, but after a while wish they were home in their pajamas. They prefer to devote their social energies to close friends, colleagues, and family. They listen more than they talk, think before they speak, and often feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation. They tend to dislike conflict. Many have a horror of small talk, but enjoy deep discussions. A few things introverts are not: The word introvert is not a synonym for hermit or misanthrope. Nor are introverts shy. Shyness is the fear of social disapproval or humiliation, while introversion is a preference for environments that are not overstimulating.

So, I'm curious, are you an introvert of extrovert? Remember, neither is better than the other. The book even explains that there are some who don't fall squarely into one camp - they can be a little of both depending on the situation. I think understanding the two and which one best describes you, will allow you to feel comfortable with who you are and how you choose to engage with the world. Well, it did for me anyway. I can feel equally good about being social and as I do about needing solitude, and not fault myself when I need the latter. I really can't recommend this book enough. What I offer above is a very minuscule sampling of what the book has to offer in the way of understanding the attributes belonging to both the extrovert and introvert. I leave you with this:

A species in which everyone was a General Patton would not succeed, any more than would a race in which everyone was Vincent van Gogh. I prefer to think that the planet needs athletes, philosophers, sex symbols, painters, scientists; it needs the warmhearted, the hardhearted, the coldhearted, and the weakhearted. It needs those who can devote their lives to studying how many droplets of water are secreted by the salivary glands of dogs under which circumstances, and it needs those who can capture the passing impression of cherry blossoms in a fourteen-syllable poem or devote twenty-five pages to the dissection of a small boy's feelings as he lies in bed in the dark waiting for his mother to kiss him goodnight...  ~Allen Shawn


16 Send Me Your Thoughts:

  1. I love a good party. But at some point I always find myself saying ill be right back. Which usually means im sneaking out the side door. Making a bee line for my living room couch.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I was at an event last night, and I couldn't wait to leave. Went with a friend because we each needed a wingman. We're both introverts. Pajama time, baby! I'm equal measures shy and out going, but I'm always longing for my sofa and the comforts of my family! And yet (conundrum!) I struggle with feeling left out too. What a pain, right? ;)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh, I heard Susan Cain on the TED Radio Hour - her talk was fascinating! It's funny because people like to describe me as a social butterfly -- ask my parents and they'll use that exact description -- and I'm a Leo so you'd think that I fall into the extrovert category. But I'm absolutely an introvert. I love working at home, where I can be quiet and work in solitude. Events like Alt are an effort for me, but I feel like it's a good effort and well worth it in the end. Like so many others, I find that it's important to step away from the action at conferences and parties, to have a quiet moment or two alone.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Can we be a bit of both - yes I think so. Like you I think I fall into both camps. Extrovert in familiar situations and company and introvert when I'm out of my comfort zone. I think I'm more extrovert than introvert that said, ha! I think may be others could be the best judge of which way we lean. Thanks for the recommendation, another for my reading list :-) x

    ReplyDelete
  5. Christine DinsmoreApril 24, 2013 at 1:56 PM

    I have always found this topic fascinating too. I used to be painfully shy and while I am not anymore I still find in order to be extroverted I have to step outside of myself and give myself permission to do so. I kind of have to fake it until I find a comfort zone (if I don't find a comfort zone i will definitely retreat to one). I still can't tweet and Facebook freaks me out. But considering those aren't super important factors I let them go and challenge myself in ways that are more important. I just prefer one-on-one conversations by far. I think I like the depth of personal interaction is what it boils down to and I guess I am just not good at finding that in larger settings or on twitter. However, if I find myself with people that are more introverted than me I will definitely take the lead, more to create a feeling of safety for everyone else. I guess I can be both but in my heart I am a serious introvert. Thanks for the recommendation! I want to read this book now :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. erin//suchsmallstepsApril 24, 2013 at 2:48 PM

    ok, now I have to read this! It's been sitting on my nightstand for at least a year. I think I fall in between, but with definite introvert tendencies. I wouldn't be surprised if many bloggers are introverts- that's probably one reason we love to communicate via our written words. I work in sales, though, which is an extroverted field. I think because of that, I like to spend my weekends "retreating," reading, sleeping, restoring myself. (PS your new site design is gorgeous!!)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Joy, I relate to all you've said. I'm a Leo too, and find many people assume that I 'should' be an extrovert :)

    Theresa, I am an introvert... I love home. Working from home, being at home and when I go out the thought of eventually going home is a wonderful one. (I think I may have a touch of shyness in there too). Although, when surrounded by people I know well and am comfortable around, I may be perceived as extrovert. I will put this book on my to read list xx

    ReplyDelete
  8. This is so fascinating. I've been thinking a lot about these two types have such an impact on my work life. I am most decidedly an extrovert. I get pretty depressed even after just one day of being sick at home by myself. I definitely have moments of needing to be alone and quiet, but they are always very short lived (and mostly early in the morning!).

    ReplyDelete
  9. I bought this book for my dad and we both definitely qualify as introverts. I'm glad I'm not alone when I say that I often choose 'me-time' over hanging out with others but I also know that I need to push myself to get out and about more often as well

    ReplyDelete
  10. I am fairly certain I am an introvert...Except, I often find myself wishing I'd think more before speaking. And based on the description here, I would say it's quite a positive label to have.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I am definitely an introvert, then. I like going out and having a good time, but inevitably, like the book's definition says, I start to get physically achey for the quiet of my own room. I need quiet time, by myself, to decompress after big social gatherings. It actually takes a toll on me. Of course, pry me with enough gin and tonics and I'm sure my extrovert side will stay out longer, haha. ;) This book sounds fascinating. I know it sounds terrible given all of the wonderful people in my life, but I could just as happily stay at home quietly by myself for a month and not miss anything. In all that time I could read this book! I'll add it to my list :) Thanks for the recommendation and quick review, T! xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  12. Great post, T - very thought-provoking! :)

    I'm a bit of both. I LOVE being home. Its soothing and filled with the things and people that I hold most dear. I'm shy but a goofball too - I really don't care what anyone thinks about my silly, playful side. When I do decide to go out, I have a blast. Put it this way - I'm teetotal and yet always, ALWAYS the first one to hit the dance floor and the last to leave whether it's empty or not.



    That said, I love deep, meaningful conversations and participate in lots of them and yet sometimes, I'm happy to just listen to everyone else.


    No-one ever knows which Chi they're going to get at any given time - not even The Hubster. What can I say? I like to keep people on their toes! :D

    ReplyDelete
  13. i'm a die-hard introvert & a hermit! :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. i read this book and loved it, too! didn't you enjoy the part where she talks about the lawyer in the room with the challenging group, and gradually she holds her own? a beautiful way to show an introvert's power.


    i'm with you and lauren and leah and most here - have a bit of both, but need quiet time to decompress and think. i do not think aloud. i think in my journal. glad you enjoyed this book, and i love the last quote - it's true - our world needs all kinds.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hi T, sorry it's taken me so long to get here! I have been wanting to read this book since i first saw it. I am a total introvert! And I always thought I was shy but now I know it's not that at all. I am really happy one or one or one on two but get swallowed up by big groups. And yes, after a night out I crave solitude. Certainly I'm not someone who can go out every night, even though I used to feel like I should want to.


    Apparently the internet was invented for introverts, we're all really happy here quietly doing our own thing. Don't you think blogging was invented for introverts???
    Great post xx

    ReplyDelete
  16. I am an extrovert for sure, but I do have some introverted tendencies - my hubby is just the opposite: an introvert with extroverted moments. :-)

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

inspirationCOOP All rights reserved © Blog Milk - Powered by Blogger