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Dr. Helen

Quiet

February 16th, 2014 - 5:28 am

quietI was killing some time recently at Barnes & Noble and remembered a number of readers telling me to take a look at Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. I picked up a copy and found it helpful in understanding the traits of those of us who tend towards introversion. From the description at Amazon:

At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over working in teams. It is to introverts—Rosa Parks, Chopin, Dr. Seuss, Steve Wozniak—that we owe many of the great contributions to society.

The author looks at our society and how it is geared towards extroverts, from schools to companies who like people who are team players and like to work in groups. The book teaches the reader how to be more of an extrovert when it is called for but also how to cherish solitude and the listening and analytical skills that often come with being an introvert.

Who are more introverted: men or women? In an interview at Time.com, Susan Cain is asked about the difference in introversion and extroversion between the sexes and says:

Men are ever so slightly more likely to be introverts than women. I think the more interesting question is, How does this play in with gender roles and what expectations people have? It goes both ways. On one hand, men are expected to take charge and be forceful and dominant, so it can be hard [to be introverted]. But there’s also still the model of the strong silent type.

For women, it’s more culturally acceptable to be introverted, although it’s getting harder and harder. Being shy used to be idealized [for women]. On the other hand, there’s the expectation to be social and vivacious and a good hostess and to make other people feel comfortable. It’s a matter of finding which available gender role suits your style.

My thoughts? It seems to me that our society emphasizes women who are extroverts as the ideal, at least to feminists, hence slogans like “well-behaved women seldom make history.” Also it seems to depend on how and what people say as to what is “culturally acceptable.” If you are a liberal woman who is extroverted, the society listens; if you are a libertarian introvert, not so much — except to say “shut up.” A feminist, liberal man who loudly vocalizes special rights for women and denigrates his fellow man is typically accepted in the academic and political communities; an introvert for men’s rights, not so much.

Any thoughts on extroverts and introverts and the way that our society views them?

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
What does introvert mean? Quiet? Shy? Unimposing? Or does it mean timid, awkward and mousy?

Introvert means "a person who is drained of energy by interaction with many other people". Extrovert means "a person who gains energy by interacting with many other people".
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
As a proud INTJ, I think that we introverts, male or female, have been empowered by the Internet and online venues such as PJM--because it allows us to get our opinions out without leaving our studies. (The corollary danger is sliding into snarky passive-aggressiveness--the temptation of the introvert.)
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
So, in our society we have a problem getting women to talk?
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (77)
All Comments   (77)
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I'm 73, married with two grown boys and I'm what I consider an extreme introvert. It's almost physically painful to interact with other people. Because I'm so quiet, I have only one or two friends, and even they're held at a distance. I fantisize my tombstone being carved with "No One Ever Liked Me"; I've lost more friends because of my quietness and shyness. I've been going to my local gym since last June, and have not spoken to a single person other than to say hello. I read "Quiet" and liked it; but for me it was of no help. I don't mind being alone at all; in fact, I'm my own best friend. I like people, but I don't like a lot of them together. Unlike extroverts, being in the company of others, physically drains me; being alone energizes me. My dear wife on the other hand is the complete opposite of me; she'll talk to anyone. God love her.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
As I've told people who extoll the value of "teamwork" - no great idea ever came out of committee but so many have died there.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
The extrovert part of me initiates socially, is energized by group activity, explores ideas conversationally, feels left out or let down when alone, and looks for ways to be with others.

The introvert part of me recharges energy in private, explores ideas privately, looks for peace and quietude, tenses up or tires in crowds, and solitude at the end of a day brings a sigh of relief.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
About the conflicting expectations for men: more apparent than real, I think - for many men, the ideal is still the mostly silent, listening type - who is listened to with respect by others on the occasions when he does speak, and thereby achieves a degree of leadership within the constraints of what he knows.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
What a coincidence, I just posted about this book

http://datechguyblog.com/2014/02/17/the-post-in-which-the-introvert-navel-gazes/

The thing that really strikes me, is her warning not to use that "interface" too much--ie, don't take on too many extroverted tasks, or you risk burning out.

I've always known I have to act more extroverted than I'd like too. And it is stressful to take on too many extroverted roles. I really like the idea of choosing, to the best of your ability, a lifestyle that compliments your natural tendencies, rather than being constantly at odds with it.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
"well behaved women seldom make history."
B.S.
Clara Barton. Shirley Temple Black. Pearl S. Buck, Jane Goodall, Marie Curie, Anne Frank, Indira Gandhi, Helen Keller and the list goes on.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
Like a lot of introverts I know, I develop an "interface" that I use in dealing with people. It's not the real me, it's a persona I assume as needed to accomplish a task. Some consider that dishonest, but to me it's as common-sense and essential as wearing thick gloves when handling hot steel.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think that people view "identity" as a rigid construct at times. I personally find "identity" as being able to assume the appropriate role for the task at hand. As an introvert I have a "social" mode I use when I need to engage with other human beings. I can carry on a conversation. I can give the appropriate cues when listening, and I can even get up on stage to address a moderate sized audience using this "social" mode.

Then when I don't need it anymore, I go back into my isolated curmudgeon mode. I pursue solo activites which I enjoy to recharge myself. This thought that people are "consistent" in operation is based in a flawed premise that underestimates the complexity of our personality.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
My personal theory concerns my career choice. I was a dentist for 30 years and had to teach my self to keep up a steady stream of detracting chatter, jokes and commentary during treatment. Judging from the torrent of letters and calls I received from former patients when I retired, the great majority of my patients were happy with my services. Yet my personal preferences would have been to work in focused silence in my solo practice, in a small room, in a small work environment (the mouth), in a small space (the tooth).
I also started an entrepreneurial business which I ran simultaneously until it got to big and gave up dentistry to focus on business which I did for 30 years until being bought out,
My business role was product development/design and sales, One requiring introversion and the other extroversion.
As a youngster, my choice of sports was invariably solo; skiing, fencing, horsemanship,
So clearly I am an introvert who has learned to behave like an extrovert when required. I believe that this is not an uncommon behavior pattern but I wonder, is the reverse possible? Can an extrovert slip into introversion when required?
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
My personal theory concerns my career choice. I was a dentist for 30 years and had to teach my self to keep up a steady stream of detracting chatter, jokes and commentary duri. Judging from the torrent of letters and calls I received from former patients when I retired, the great majority of my patients where happy with my services
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
Perhaps what we call introverted is simply a way to escape the interference. I keep on deleting my Facebook account - maybe I want a life where I can change my perspective, my attitude... where I can reinvent myself from time to time. People used to be able to do that. But now everything is permanent. You can google it. You can't make a mistake because you can't change. You spend your life defending things your predecessors were able to move past. Does that seem right?
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
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