In 2009, I went to a one-day conference with a charismatic speaker leading one of the sessions. It was rah-rah and manipulative. If you wanted to really succeed, then you would need to pay $799 more for an exclusive package. That, of course, was on top of the price everyone had already paid to attend the conference. The speaker called for absolute obedience during his speech. At the risk of being called out in front of the roomful of people, I stood up and left. I was horrified. From what I’ve heard about Tony Robbins events, they are very similar.
Susan Cain, in Quiet, attends a Tony Robbins event and has a similar experience. Susan is an introvert and so am I. Tony is the extrovert ideal. I don’t know what made me leave the conference that day, but Susan helped put some of the reasons into words. The speaker at the conference I attended was obviously hitting stride with the other attendees, none of which left in a room of over 1,000 people.
Susan’s point is that the Tonys of the world are held up as the example of the ideal person. We want to be around the gregarious, happy, and loud person. In business settings, these are the people whose ideas go forward, right or wrong. They are the people who get the promotions. They are the people we want our children to become. They overwhelmingly make up the Harvard Business School classes, and many of these people go on to run companies that impact our daily lives.
But these gregarious people, if we may call them extroverts, only make up 50 to 66% of the population. That means 1/3rd to 1/2 of the people around you are introverts.
If you are an introvert, this book will give words to what you feel and experience on a daily basis. If you don’t know if you are an introvert or extrovert, this book will help you know the difference.
But this book goes further. It helps those who are not introverts know how to set up churches, businesses, and social gatherings conducive to both introverts and extroverts. For example, did you know that if you have a number of employees who are go-getters and proactive, it’s better to have an introvert managing them? An extrovert can actually sap the energy from the proactive group. Seems like that would be an unbelievably important insight for organizational leaders. That’s just one of the very important insights regarding the workplace.
One of the most insightful chapters of the book was Chapter 10 that covered communication between an introvert and extrovert within a marriage or close relationship. It was very eye-opening and it was as if Susan had a video camera directed at my marriage. She closes the chapter by suggesting ways extroverts can better communicate with their introvert spouses and vice-versa.