Saturday, April 21, 2012

Susan Cain: The Power of Introverts

S is for Susan Cain...Last month, I wrote a post associating "quiet" behavior with positive writer characteristics. (And by no means was I suggesting that extroverts aren't good writers- I believe both introverts and extroverts can make excellent writers.) Anyway, many writers commented on this particular post and it was eye-opening to know how many of us have received negative and unfair feedback for being "quiet." Let me go on to say that I consider myself both an extrovert and an introvert. I can be vocal and outgoing, and I can also be mellow and reserved. My persona often depends on my mood and where I am, who I'm with. I have many friends who are extroverts, and I also have friends who are introverts. But while I find that extrovert qualities are often praised, I find that introvert qualities are often frowned upon. And that really annoys me.

Shortly after publishing my post, I found a video segment on CNN featuring Susan Cain, author of QUIET: THE POWER OF INTROVERTS IN A WORLD THAT CAN'T STOP TALKING. In the 19 minute-long video, Susan gives a talk to a crowded auditorium about the power that  introverts yield.

Susan shares a childhood experience about attending a summer camp where rowdiness was encouraged. When she went off to read by herself, a counselor chastised her for not showing "camp spirit" and tried persuading her to be more outgoing. Such was one of many experiences Susan has had where the world showed her that extroversion is valued more than introversion.

Susan also reveals how psychology studies have shown that the most creative people also come with a "streak of introversion."  She names Theodor Seuss Geisel, also known as Dr. Suess, as an example of someone extremely creative who was actually such an introvert he didn't like to meet his fans because he was afraid children would expect him to be "a jolly Santa Claus" though he was actually more "reserved." 

There is a lot of juicy stuff shared in Susan's talk that would interest both introverts and extroverts. Check it out here.


Kate said...

I think this is a debate that could go on forever! lol As a person who grew up an introvert and developed extrovert tendencies, I feel like I have seen it from both sides. I think that people have expectations of extroverts and perceptions of them that may not always be true and are more likely to fall a victim to stereotyping than introverts. Just my tuppence worth :) Great post as it now has me thinking.

Journaling Woman said...

I am such an introvert. Personally, I think you're born one way or another. But, then, someone tells you will be healthier being an extrovert and they learn to be an ex.

Great post.


S.P. Bowers said...

I can't wait to watch the video. I personally admire those that are more reserved.

Mina Burrows said...

This topic is so dear to my heart. Introverts rock too! Great post!

Janna said...

Naturally I am an introvert. I love being around people, and parties, and going out, but need alone time, or quiet time to recharge. In this world, especially now I think, it seems you need to say yes to all social events, to participate loudly and actively, or else you just get forgotten about and not invited anymore. A happy medium is hard to find.

J.C. Martin said...

Very good point. Not noticed how much some introvert traits are deemed negative. But as a teacher, I do remember being encouraged to tell parents if a child is too quiet in class. I try to get these quiet kids to answer at least one question a lesson, just to get them more engaged. But who's to say staying quiet means they are not taking information in?

Although my work demands that I be at centre stage a lot (teaching and demonstrating martial arts techniques in front of everyone), I am definitely an introvert when off-duty. Amazing how many intricate details you notice by keeping your mouth closed and your eyes, ears, heart and mind open.

J.C. Martin
A to Z Blogger

Cynthia said...

Kate- Both extroverts and introverts can be subject to untrue stereotypes.

Teresa- People are most happy being who they naturally are, although it's possible to be an introvert with some extrovert tendencies and vice versa.

S.P.- It's a great video. Hope you enjoy it.

Mina- Thanks, Mina. This topic is dear to my heart too.

Janna- It's healthy to have some time to ourselves to recharge.

J.C.- Being introverted also allows me to be more observant.

Lynn Proctor said...


Shelley Sly said...

I like this topic, as I think about introversion vs. extroversion a lot, too. I'm very introverted, often teased (lovingly) for being shy, and I used to wish so badly that I was more outgoing. Now I like my introverted self. I like that not everybody can tell what I'm thinking because I don't have the constant desire to spout my thoughts.

Lynda R Young said...

I'm a bit of both too depending on who I'm with and my mood. Mostly I think of myself as introverted.

Honey said...

Very interesting post. I think it takes all kinds to make the world go 'round, but I agree the extroverts have the upper hand. People seem drawn to charismatic, outgoing people, and I've fallen into that trap too. It's unfair and annoying, especially when apart from the confident attitude, some of them don't have a lot to offer.

Cynthia said...

Lynn- Thanks!

Shelley- I'm glad you're comfortable with your introverted self.

Lynda- I too can be both depending on how I'm feeling.

Honey- I hear what you're saying. Sometimes people admire what's on the surface without considering substance. We live and we learn. =)

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