Thursday, May 26, 2016


I’ve always known I’m an introvert.   Maybe that’s why what Susan Cain has to say in the first hundred or so pages of her book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking (2012, New York: Broadway Paperbacks) resonates with me.  So many of the things I love to do are solitary or quiet:  play the piano and the harp, write, read, hike, take long walks.    Still, I am a bit of a paradox: I like to work alone but I find group synergy enervating; I do need protracted periods of quiet to concentrate and be most productive, but I love to chat; I enjoy being at home and I love to travel.  So I find myself in this book (or, at least, the part I have read so far!)

Over the years, I’ve honed skills in facilitation, presentation, performance, and conversation, and even dipped my toe into drama.  On purpose.  Little by little, with intentional jaunts out of my comfort zone.  

Still, well aware of my default nature, I thought I would share some of Cain’s research and wisdom.

A Manifesto for Introverts (Susan Cain)

1.              There’s a word for ”people who are in their heads too much”: thinkers.
2.              Solitude is a catalyst for innovation.
3.              The next generation of quiet kids can and must be raised to know their own strengths.
4.              Sometimes it helps to be a pretend extrovert.  There will always be time to be quiet later.
5.              But in the long run, staying true to your temperament is key to finding work you love and work that matters.
6.              One genuine new relationship is worth a fistful of business cards.
7.              It’s OK to cross the street to avoid making small talk.
8.              ”Quiet leadership” is not an oxymoron.
9.              Love is essential; gregariousness is optional.
10.          “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” (Mahatma Gandhi)

For me and my educator colleagues, Cain has tips to help educators honor introversion in our students:

1.              Don’t think of introversion as something that needs to be cured.
2.              Re-examine classroom “group-work.”
3.              Don’t seat shy or introverted kids in “high-interaction” areas of the classroom.
4.              Balance teaching methods to serve all the kids in your class.
5.              Try “pair-sharing” techniques.
6.              Wait five seconds after asking questions in class.  (In my experience, have students write a few ideas down individually in answer to a question before initiating a group discussion evens the playing field for introverted students.)
7.              Use online teaching techniques.
Details for each point are on pp. 348-349.

These snippets don’t do justice to Cain’s engaging and honest style and thorough research.  Pick up a copy of the book, and see what you think.  It’s already made a difference for me.

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