This is another stunning book that I am reading, I am only half through it but I want to bring it to your attention now. Do you envy extroverts ? This book by Susan Cain has helped me consolidate my acceptance of my own introversion.
Here are some excerpts from the book and the Table of Contents. Have a good read.
P. 10, 11
“What exactly do I mean when I say that Laura is an introvert? When I started writing this book, the first thing I wanted to find out was precisely how researchers define introversion and extroversion. I knew that in 1921 the influential psychologist Carl Jung had published a bombshell of a book, Psychological Types, popularizing the terms introvert and extrovert as the central building blocks of personality. Introverts are drawn to the inner world of thought and feeling, said Jung, extroverts to the external life of people and activities. Introverts focus on the meaning they make of the events swirling around them; extroverts plunge into the events themselves. Introverts recharge their batteries by being alone; extroverts need to recharge when they don't socialize enough. If you've ever taken a Myers-Briggs personality test, which is based on Jung's thinking and used by the majority of universities and Fortune 100 companies, then you may already be familiar with these ideas.
“But what do contemporary researchers have to say? I soon discovered that there is no all-purpose definition of introversion or extroversion; these are not unitary categories, like "curly-haired" or "sixteen-year-old," in which everyone can agree on who qualifies for inclusion. For example, adherents of the Big Five school of personality psychology ( which argues that human personality can be boiled down to five primary traits) define introversion not in terms of a rich inner life but as a lack of qualities such as assertiveness and sociability. There are almost as many definitions of introvert and extrovert as there are personality psychologists, who spend a great deal of time arguing over which meaning is most accurate. Some think that Jung's ideas are outdated; others swear that he's the only one who got it right.
“Still, today's psychologists tend to agree on several important points: for example, that introverts and extroverts differ in the level of outside stimulation that they need to function well. Introverts feel "just right" with less stimulation, as when they sip wine with a close friend, solve a crossword puzzle, or read a book. Extroverts enjoy the extra bang that comes from activities like meeting new people, skiing slippery slopes, and cranking up the stereo.
"Other people are very arousing," says the personality psychologist David Winter, explaining why your typical introvert would rather spend her vacation reading on the beach than partying on a cruise ship. "They arouse threat, fear, flight, and love. A hundred people are very stimulating compared to a hundred books or a hundred grains of sand."
“Many psychologists would also agree that introverts and extroverts work differently. Extroverts tend to tackle assignments quickly. They make fast (sometimes rash) decisions, and are comfortable multitasking and risk-taking. They enjoy "the thrill of the chase" for rewards like money and status.
“Introverts often work more slowly and deliberately. They like to focus on one task at a time and can have mighty powers of concentration. They're relatively immune to the lures of wealth and fame.
“Our personalities also shape our social styles. Extroverts are the people who will add life to your dinner party and laugh generously at your jokes. They tend to be assertive, dominant, and in great need of company. Extroverts think out loud and on their feet; they prefer talking to listening, rarely find themselves at a loss for words, and occasionally blurt out things they never meant to say. They're comfortable with conflict, but not with solitude.
“Introverts, in contrast, may have strong social skills and enjoy parties and business meetings, but after a while wish they were home in their pajamas. They prefer to devote their social energies to close friends, colleagues, and family. They listen more than they talk, think before they speak, and often feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation. They tend to dislike conflict. Many have a horror of small talk, but enjoy deep discussions.
“A few things introverts are not: The word introvert is not a synonym for hermit or misanthrope. Introverts can be these things, but most are perfectly friendly. One of the most humane phrases in the English language – “Only connect!” – was written by the distinctly introverted E. M. Foster in a novel exploring the question of how to achieve “human love at its height."
“Nor are introverts necessarily shy. Shyness is the fear of social disapproval or humiliation, while introversion is a preference for environments that are not overstimulating....”
If you’re still not sure where you fall on the introvert-extrovert spectrum, you can assess yourself here. Answer each question "true" or "false," choosing the answer that applies to you more often than not.*
1 _____ I prefer one-on-one conversations to group activities.
2 _____ I often prefer to express myself in writing.
3 _____ I enjoy solitude.
4 _____ I seem to care less than my peers about wealth, fame, and status.
5 _____ I dislike small talk, but I enjoy talking in depth about topics that matter to me.
6 _____ People tell me that I'm a good listener.
7 _____ I'm not a big risk-taker.
8 _____ I enjoy work that allows me to "dive in" with few interruptions.
9 _____ I like to celebrate birthdays on a small scale, with only one or two close friends or family members.
10 ____ People describe me as "soft-spoken" or "mellow."
11 ____I prefer not to show or discuss my work with others until it's finished.
12 ____ I dislike conflict.
13 ____ I do my best work on my own.
14 ____ I tend to think before I speak.
15 ____ I feel drained after being out and about, even if I've enjoyed myself.
16 ____ I often let calls go through to voice mail.
17 ____ If I had to choose, I’d prefer a weekend with absolutely nothing to do to one with too many things scheduled.
18 ____ I don’t enjoy multitasking.
19 ____ I can concentrate easily.
20 ____ In classroom situations, I prefer lectures to seminars.
* This is an informal quiz, not a scientifically validated personality test. The questions were formulated based on the characteristics of introversion often accepted by contemporary researchers.
Incidence on open-plan offices
P. 84 “The Coding War Games are well known in tech circles, but DeMarco and Lister's findings reach beyond the world of computer programmers. A mountain of recent data on open-plan offices from many different industries corroborates the results of the games. Open-plan offices have been found to reduce productivity and impair memory. They're associated with high staff turnover. They make people sick, hostile, unmotivated, and insecure. Open-plan workers are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure and elevated stress levels and to get the flu; they argue more with their colleagues; they worry about coworkers eavesdropping on their phone calls and spying on their computer screens. They have fewer personal and confidential conversations with colleagues They're often subject to loud and uncontrollable noise, which raises heart rates; releases cortisol, the body's fight-or-flight "stress" hormone and makes people socially distant, quick to anger, aggressive, and slow to help others.
“Indeed, excessive stimulation seems to impede learning: a recent study found that people learn better after a quiet stroll through the woods than after a noisy walk down a city street. Another study, of 38,000 knowledge workers across different sectors, found that the simple act of being interrupted is one of the biggest barriers to productivity. Even multitasking, that prized feat of modern-day office warriors, turns out to be a myth. Scientists now know that the brain is incapable of paying attention to two things at the same time. What looks like multitasking really switching back and forth between multiple tasks, which reduces productivity and increases mistakes by up to 50 percent.
“Many introverts seem to know these things instinctively, and resist being herded together. Backbone Entertainment, a video game design company in Oakland, California, initially used an open office plan but found that their game developers, many of whom were introverts, were unhappy. "It was one big warehouse space, with just tables, no walls, and everyone could see each other," recalls Mike Mika, the former creative director, "We switched over to cubicles and were worried about it – you'd think in a creative environment that people would hate that. But it turns out they prefer having nooks and crannies they can hide away in and just be away from everybody."
“Something similar happened at Reebok International when, in 2000, the company consolidated 1,250 employees in their new headquarters in Canton, Massachusetts. The managers assumed that their shoe design would want office space with plenty of access to each other so they could brainstorm (an idea they probably picked up when they were getting their MBAs). Luckily, they consulted first with the shoe designers themselves, who told them that actually what they needed was peace and quiet so they should concentrate.”
TABLE OF CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION: The North and South of Temperament
PART ONE: THE EXTROVERT IDEAL
1. THE RISE OF THE “MIGHTY LIKABLE FELLOW”
How extroversion Became the Cultural Ideal
2. THE MYTH OF CHARISMATIC LEADERSHIP
The culture of Personality, a Hundred Years Later
3. WHEN COLLABORATION KILLS CREATIVITY
The Rise of the New Groupthink and the Power of Working Alone
PART TWO: YOUR BIOLOGY, YOUR SELF?
4. IS TEMPERAMENT DESTINY ? :
Nature, Nurture, and the Orchid Hypothesis
5. BEYOND TEMPERAMENT
The role of Free Will (and the Secret of Public Speaking for Introverts)
6. “FRANKLIN WAS A POLITICIAN, BUT ELEANOR SPOKE OUT OF CONSCIENCE”
Why Cool Is Overrated
7. WHY DID WALL STREET CRASH AND WARREN BUFFETT PROSPER?
How Introverts and Extroverts Think (and Process Dopamine) Differently
PART THREE: DO ALL CULTURES HAVE HAVE AN EXTROVERT IDEAL ?
8. SOFT POWER: Asian-Americans and the Extrovert Idea
PART FOUR: HOW TO LOVE, HOW TO WORK
9. WHEN SHOULD YOU ACT MORE EXTROVERTED THAN YOU REALLY ARE?
10. THE COMMUNICATION GAP
How to Talk to Members fo the Opposite Type
11. ON COBBLERS AND GENERALS
How to Cultivate Quiet Kids in a World That Can’t Hear them