Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
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We are evangelicals and, at times, the DNA of our brethren seems hopelessly extroverted. For example, we appreciate the fact that so many of our friends genuinely want to know how God might be speaking to us at a given time. We have also felt the compulsion (albeit restrained) to respond by saying something like "I don't know. I can't hear God's voice when you keep talking."
On the surface our appearances are likely deceiving. One of us teaches and thus (you could say) gets paid to talk for a living. One of us is a member of the college cheerleading squad and is thus part of a group that would seem to tear at the very fiber of an introvert's being. These roles are not only ones we took on out of a love for those respective activities but also part of how we thrive in this Club Med for the intellectually gifted yet shamelessly verbose.
Thanks to Susan Cain, we learned we are not alone. The author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking, Cain is a former corporate attorney now committed to defending the rights of her fellow introverts. Her book is a testament to this cause, and we are pleased to refer to ourselves as beneficiaries of her efforts. Although we read this book almost immediately after its release, we were not her first clients. Cain was, in fact, her own first client. Despite a lack of underlying reflection upon the diversity of what it means to be human, her book is a refreshing mix of social analysis, self-help musings, and memoir. Anyone living under the heel of the Extrovert Ideal should take up and read Quiet.
Many readers of Cain's book may be surprised to learn they are not alone in their search to find success and fulfillment apart from constant interaction with other people. In her introduction, Cain suggests that between one-third and one-half of Americans are introverts--a claim that will startle readers of both persuasions. How can this be so? Most Americans, Cain explains, live under the Extrovert Ideal, which devalues the societal roles of introverts and assumes they are weaker and less competent: "We're told that to be great is to be bold, to be happy is to be sociable. We see ourselves as a nation of extroverts--which means that we've lost sight of who we really are."
As a result, introverts are routinely ashamed of their personalities rather than confident in their unique abilities, causing them to adapt their behavior to resemble their more outgoing coworkers, family members, and friends. The constant pressure to feign extroversion leaves many introverts exhausted, discouraged, and less effective in reaching their potential for success. Through personal reflection and presentation of research, Cain combats society's prejudices against introverts. She helps them reclaim their identities and recognize their value as indispensible members of society who exhibit "soft power" through listening, contemplation, attentiveness, persistence, and self-discipline.
SOURCE: Christianity Today
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