I’m almost done reading “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain.
In a nutshell, Susan claims that introverts have as much to offer to our society as extroverts do.
Introverts simply accomplish things quietly, but they sure can accomplish great things and there are many examples of famous introverts: Einstein, Gandhi, Rosa Parks, Bill Gates, Steven Spielberg, Sir Isaac Newton, Eleanor Roosevelt, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page, and of course, the one and only and not so famous Miguel Hernandez (me).
Susan admits to being an introvert herself. She would rather spend an evening reading books than socializing. However, through a lot of work she pushed herself, not to become an extrovert, but to do more of the things extroverts find easier to do, like public speaking.
Unfortunately, as Susan points out, there is still a social stigma against introversion. Where extroversion is seen as a positive trait associated with successful people, introversion is seen as a negative trait associated with weaklings and loseroos (a word I just invented).
But this was not always the case. Before the turn of the twentieth century many of the traits associated with introverts were highly regarded. This was the era of the Culture of Character.
As people flocked to the cities and getting noticed among strangers became more difficult, we transformed into a society of attention seeking salesmen. The Culture of Personality was born and any traits associated with extroversion started to be correlated to success in business and life.
The problem with being an introvert today is that you may think there is something wrong with you. At least, that’s what I thought for many years. Of course, when I was growing up I didn’t know I was an introvert. I just noticed I enjoyed a lot time alone, tinkering with tools, playing in the garden, reading, spending countless hours building Lego contraptions.
My mom has many times told me the story of when I was around 12 and my friends came to visit me, and I asked her to lie and tell them I was sick and couldn’t go out and play with them. I was fine, I just wanted to play with my Legos. Although my mom understood and supported my desire to spend time alone, it was heartbreaking for her to see my friends leave sad without me.
Through her best-seller book, Susan is empowering millions of introverts to accept themselves, to understand that there is nothing wrong with introversion, and to embrace and exploit the traits that are more common among introverts like, focus, attention to detail, being more observant, being better listeners, and seeking deeper connections.
Well, thank you Susan. You have given me permission to be ok with being – as my wife puts it – an anti-social weirdo. Yahoo!! yeah.. lalala!
Actually, I had given myself permission to be ok with who I am long time before Susan came along, but it’s nice and reassuring to learn about the power of introversion from a different, well researched perspective.
And all of this so I can get to the part of the email I really wanted to get to.
Here we go…
Being loud doesn’t make you right.
I say this because most people tend to attribute more validity to statements made by extroverted people than by introvert quiet types.
For instance, subconsciously we are prone to believe more someone that speaks loud and with confidence than someone that doesn’t, even if both people are saying the exact same statement.
What’s worse, most of us are more likely to believe a confident good-looking extrovert telling a lie than a shy average looking person telling the truth.
This may explain why many companies, institutions, and countries end up being run by big fat lying extroverts. And unfortunately, as long as we keep confusing extroversion (and good looks) with proficiency, intelligence and trustworthiness we are doomed to have our world be ruled by incompetent, loud, and obnoxious individuals.
So what can we do?
If any of this is news to you I would recommend reading Susan’s book. She does an excellent job at explaining the differences between introverted and extroverted people and how can both types coexist harmoniously. Susan provides plenty of examples of great introverts and extroverts working together including that one of Franklin D. Roosevelt (extrovert) and Eleanor Roosevelt (introvert).
If you don’t feel like reading it then here is what you can do.
If you are an extrovert, learn to become a better listener and appreciate the opinion and input of those around you that think more and talk less.
If you are an introvert, learn to speak out when you feel strongly about something, learn to be bold when you feel your actions can make a difference.
And regardless of where you place yourself within the introvert-extrovert spectrum develop your critical thinking skills to become better at disentangling truth from assertiveness, looks, or status.
I know is hard to do but it’s worth trying.
Peace, Love and Introverted Cookies,
P.S.: A legendary example of quiet determination is Rosa Parks.
P.2: Great News! Grumo has a sponsor! Do you want to win a FREE Grumo t-shirt? every week I’ll be giving away an official limited edition Grumo t-shirt to one of my readers courtesy of ShirtBattle (big shout out to Robert Lassers for making this happen!). To enter the contest just click HERE.
P.3: Did you miss last week’s email? No problem you can read it HERE.
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