In the past couple of months I’ve read a real mix of titles; from personal improvement, parenting and health, to business leadership, light fiction and some with autobiographical leanings. The one with the loudest learnings and ah ha moments was Quiet by Susan Cain. It was the title initially, that drew me in. Quiet. The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking.I saw myself in the can’t-stop-talking part of the title and I saw some of my loved ones and colleagues in the quiet part. The book really made me think and about my own and society’s blindside, that places unbalanced and unwarranted value on being vocal, assertive, outgoing and self-promoting. It drew me in to learn more about what it’s like for introverts who are living under the extrovert ideal.
It totally shifted my thinking on the assumed value of multitasking, group work and brainstorming and reconfirmed some things I probably already knew about the differing views of eastern versus western cultures.
It’s summed up nicely in this Eastern proverb: "Those who know do not speak – those who speak do not know” and conversely the western mantra: “The squeaky wheel gets the grease”.Modern business and education place high value on group work, collaborations, and brainstorming as a better approach to idea generation and getting work done. But the book shows there’s science to prove that being interrupted is one of the biggest barriers to productivity and that talented and motivated staff should be encouraged to work alone when creativity or efficiency is the highest priority.
Science also shows that multitasking, that prized feat of office warriors, should be debunked as being so highly valuable because in fact the brain is incapable of paying attention to two things at once.The bottom line of the book for me, was that we lose, when we undervalue introversion. But also the incredible ability of humans, to act out of character (introvert or extrovert) when we need to for important work or for the people we love.