Quiet: The Power of Introverts In a World That Can’t Stop Talking

How Did This Happen?

  • As we went from an agricultural culture to an industrial one where we needed more outgoing salesmen, the emphasis shifted from the quality of one’s character to one’s personality. We hear how Dale Carnegie became successful teaching people the extrovert technique of influencing people. Movie stars modeled personal magnetism. Madison Avenue spoke to our anxieties and gave us more extroverts as models as television spread. A new concept called the inferiority complex came into being and psychologists invented the social anxiety disorder as a new disease. Schools increasingly focused on socializing students and introverted students were often singled out as problem cases.

Why Introverted Leaders Might Be Better

  • Introverted leaders are more likely to listen to the ideas of others. This can motivate them to work harder. Extroverts are more likely to be intent on putting their own stamp on the organization’s direction. This can cause workers to lapse into passivity.
  • People tend to assume that loud people are more intelligent. When forceful people carry the day, a lot of good ideas from the introverts can get lost. Cain tells of an activity at Harvard Business School where a group is considered a failure if any member outperforms the group. This can happen when a quiet person has the most expertise.
  • Introverts are more likely to reveal more of themselves via social media. They welcome the chance to communicate digitally and can now contribute in classes where they don’t have to raise their hand and talk.

We Need a Healthy Mix of Introverts and Extroverts.

  • When you find a creative group, you are likely to find many introverts. Introversion concentrates the mind on the tasks at hand. Solo practice is where work gets done. Top athletes in team sports spend unusual amounts of time in solitary practice. Many workplaces lack places where you can work alone. Top companies allow for the most privacy. Being interrupted is the biggest barrier to productivity. Too many meetings are toxic.
  • Traditional brainstorming is less effective than letting people come up with ideas on their own. You get more and better ideas when you combine solitary work of multiple individuals rather than letting them work together. As groups get larger, performance goes down. This is due to some people not contributing, only one person can talk at a time, and the fear of looking stupid. An audience causes stress and the group can change your perceptions. Properly managed online brainstorming, however, can do better.

At Least Some of It is in Your Genes.

  • Cain site studies that show how some of what causes your place on the introvert-extrovert spectrum is genetic. Some estimates lie in the 50% range. Beyond that environment determines how much the best and worst qualities of each come out. In a stressful environment, introverts are more likely to be anxious and depressed. In a stable environment, they will be empathetic, caring, cooperative, and conscientious. They also are more resistant to colds and other respiratory diseases.
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One Response to “Quiet: The Power of Introverts In a World That Can’t Stop Talking

  1. I go to school in Canada and we just now are learning about this in the classroom.
    Thank you for helping me with the conclusion of my report.

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