how to be comfortable in your personality skin


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I love browsing the new releases at Barnes and Noble — ogling covers and scanning titles for books I’ll add to my never-ending to-read list. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain was one of those books I immediately picked up to peruse further. With a tagline like that, this introvert was intrigued!

I expected Cain’s book to be rah-rah introverts, expounding on why they are more valuable than extroverts and why everyone should try to be like them. The world would be a scary place if everyone was like me (a staunch introvert), so I was pleasantly surprised that within the first few pages of Quiet, Cain made it clear that her book was less about one personality type overpowering the other and more about empowering people to be comfortable in their personality skin. Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, the content of Quiet forces you to take a closer look at yourself and those around you. “Understanding where we fall on the spectrum gives us the power to live our lives well,” says Cain (170).

What I loved about Quiet

  • The concepts are well-researched. The first reaction of a scholarly friend of mine who read Quiet was that Cain’s book was much more academic than she expected it to be. She’s right. Cain knows her stuff. She has put in the leg work to do interviews, go to conferences, and compare endless studies so that Quiet is more than just one woman’s opinion about introverts and their habits.
  • I’m not the only one! Introverts should find solace in Quiet, discovering there’s a sea of fellow introverts (one-third of America’s population) trying their best to swim against the tide of a culture that glorifies extroversion. It was reassuring to read about others who don’t enjoy small talk, spend time making decisions, and prefer to work alone.
  • The extras are wonderful. Past the extensive notes section and the index, readers will find some fun extras. Cain includes a reader’s guide for further discussion, recommended reading with books that feature introverts, tips for raising an introverted child, and a couple other helpful resources.

Valuable lessons from Quiet

  • Find your sweet spot and stick to it. Everyone has a level of interpersonal interaction that works best for them. It’s important to recognize, accept, and work with that level (your sweet spot) to operate as your best self. This explained why I’m always so worn out after church and should be careful about scheduling other social engagements on Sundays.
  • Just because you’re an introvert doesn’t mean you should be a hermit. We live in a social society. Our daily lives often force us to get outside of our introvert comfort zone. That’s okay. It’s wise to brush up on your social skills, just don’t pressure yourself to change permanently.
  • “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” – Mahatma Ghandi

The bottom line: Quiet is worth reading regardless of your personality type. Introverts will learn more about themselves — why they act, think, and do things a certain way — and extroverts will learn how to coexist with their quiet counterparts . Both will learn how to avoid some pitfalls and maximize the strengths of their individual personality type. I think Cain describes it best:

This book is about introversion as seen from a cultural point of view. Its primary concern is the age-old dichotomy between the “man of action” and the “man of contemplation,” and how we could improve the world if only there were a greater balance of power between the two types.

-Susan Cain, Quiet (page 269)

Also, don’t miss Cain’s TED talk, The Power of Introverts.

Related: Performing The Extrovert by A.R. Hamilton

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