More On Introverts

Last month I reviewed Susan Cain’s excellent book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking “ .  Not everyone is into books, though, so I was glad to see Susan Cain this week on a TED Talk summarizing the key points of her book:

Most of the comments on the TED site were positive in response to Susan’s presentation.  One critic, however, posted, “Typical introvert. Claims to love extroverts and the appearance of equality, but somehow in her mind believes that introverts are “better” and offer far more to the world. She’s a bit deluded, isn’t she?”

That is exactly what Susan Cain is not saying.  Her message, I think, is to get people to appreciate both introverts and extroverts.  The World is a better place when people are free to be themselves, whether it be introverted, extroverted, or a mix of the two.  The talk raises the awareness of the strengths of the introvert personality type, but not at the expense of extroverts.  Cain encourages all personality types at the conclusion of her talk “to grace us with your energy and joy”.

More voices for introverts that I discovered through Twitter are Barbara and Greg Markway, who have a regular column in Psychology Today.  In this column Greg Markway tells of an introverted 18 year old, Adam, who had trouble getting a job because most employers are looking for extroverted qualities from an applicant.  “We live in a culture that rewards the outgoing,” Markway writes,  “even when the introvert may be more knowledgeable and skilled.”

The story of Adam reminds me of my twin 18 year old sons.  One is more outgoing than the other. He got a job after his first interview. The second son, an introvert, was rejected in interview after interview by businesses looking for more “perky” teens.

I kept encouraging son #2 to keep trying, as I had been rejected in countless interviews myself over the years. Eventually he found a health food grocery store that was willing to give him a chance. He’s still on that job one year later as a bagger. He was hired with 7 other baggers – all but one other has since quit. When I go into the store one of the managers tells me what a good conscientious worker my son is, and how happy they are to have him.

Adam, like my son #2, will eventually find a place that values his skills. It seems introverts have to work harder to get in the door sometimes, but once in they often thrive.

Thank you to Susan Cain and the Markways for stepping out of your own natural introversion to promote the positives of the “quiet” temperament.  You encourage other introverts like me to step out, too.

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One Response to More On Introverts

  1. Barb Markway says:

    Thank you so much for mentioning Greg’s article. If you go and read the comments on his article, you could write a whole other post. I couldn’t believe how many people said they wouldn’t hire an introvert. And one of our own friends took offense at the article, although I think she had misread it. I think Susan’s book really tried (and succeeded) in striking a balance. There were so many places she qualified what she was saying, (“not every extrovert is like this…”)

    Also thank you for saying there is value in stepping out of our personal comfort zones. Sometimes I really wonder why I put myself through what I do sometimes (nothing like Susan Cain has been doing), but drawing attention to myself in any way is not easy.

    Your twins are lucky to have you as a father!

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