Right, believe it or not but we prefer peace and quiet. Social events, big crowds, parties, attention – we don’t like any of that.
No, we don’t have rabies, we’re just this thing: introverts. Yet in a world also full of extroverts with egos to satisfy, the loud people tend to get a better opportunity to force their way into situations and dominate.
As a result, Susan Cain, an American writer and lecturer, has called for a quiet revolution. A chance for introverts to shine.
Her bestselling work Quiet (2012) clearly hit a nerve for fellow reticent people and she’s touted the world of introspective qualities ever since. So, are you loud and annoying? Read on to find out how to control yourself.
There’s a tacit war between extroverts and introverts. Both personality types appear to find the other annoying.
If you’re a silent type, someone sounding off becomes annoying and exhausting. If you’re a gregarious individual running a business and you hire someone who’s reticent and favours alone time… the bastard! Surely a liability, yes?
And the latter example is the one that seems to play out in modern life. In 2019, you must be confident, bold, brash, assertive, and all that jazz. But the reality is a lot of people aren’t.
Those are the ideals popularised over the last century with the arrival of globalisation and big business shenanigans.
And this is where Cain’s book enters the fray – she’s appealing for a quiet revolution. She feels corporations have fuelled a culture of bombastic personalities, where perceptions are more important than truth.
In other words, we should aim to be ebullient and gregarious (big words!) as that’s what will make you “successful”. As success is money and marriage and kids and whatnot.
For her part, Cain was an attorney fresh out of university in the early 1990s, but initially felt her introversion was ill suited for the role. Yet Cain eventually found it provided her with a unique skill set over the broiling hotheads and extroverts of the legal environment.
And so the opening chapters focus on work and what she dubs the Extrovert Ideal. Isn’t extroversion the desirable personality trait to have?
Certainly, an acerbic and forthright approach helps. Especially in business. And she drafts in a gentleman called Tony Robbins as an example, a highly energetic and charismatic life coach in the US.
He’s exceptionally tall and has the ability to place a vast audience in awe – some pay thousands of dollars for front row seats. Others $10,000+ for Robbin’s 1-1 “university” lecturing.
He has YouTube videos such as, “This is why 4% succeed and 96% fail.” And by “succeed” he’s referring to wealth.
As, for myriad reasons, western society continues to define success as having a lot of money. And the way to do that – as the beliefs of pro-capitalists go – is to work very, very hard and be superior to other people (i.e. poor people are lazy).
Those notions happily gloss over how the economics adopted by the UK and USA in the 1980s have vastly increased inequality and ensured only a select few benefit from Reagan and Thatcher’s policies.
From 1980 to 2016, the share of total income going to the top 1% has more than doubled. In the US and UK, CEOs now earn more than 354 times over their employees.
From Jonathan Aldred in ‘Socialism for the rich’: the evils of bad economics:
“One crucial reason why we have done so little to reduce inequality in recent years is that we downplay the role of luck in achieving success. Parents teach their children that almost all goals are attainable if you try hard enough. This is a lie, but there is a good excuse for it: unless you try your best, many goals will definitely remain unreachable. Ignoring the good luck behind my success helps me feel good about myself, and makes it much easier to feel I deserve the rewards associated with success. High earners may truly believe that they deserve their income because they are vividly aware of how hard they have worked and the obstacles they have had to overcome to be successful. But this is not true everywhere. Support for the idea that you deserve what you get varies from country to country. And in fact, support for such beliefs is stronger in countries where there seems to be stronger evidence that contradicts them.”
In amongst such difficulties, do introverts lack the ability to “seize the day” and make opportunities happen?
Not helping the matter is the ongoing societal confusion – and even stigma – towards introverts. It’s unseemly in a 24/7 business environment. At least for the ignorant.
The Extrovert Ideal has a deleterious impact on society and the planet. We’re at a crisis point in the history of humanity, with the need to drastically cut down big business capitalist ventures to ensure the climate crisis is controlled.
Yet the world is run by overly privileged extroverts who like to mouth off at any given opportunity.
Cain’s book is timely and written with charm and a personable flair. Introverts will learn a great deal about their important place in the modern world.
It is, essentially, a self-help book. As with Tony Robbins above, she’s promoting personal improvement. She’s just doing so without charging you $2,000 a time for it whilst upselling $10,000 boot camp 1-1s.
But if you’re introspective and aware of the important issues of our time, it’s an essential read. It’s sold over two million copies and the more the better, we think.
It’s a rallying call to how the world should veer towards quieter times and remove the idea that the louder, bolder, and brasher the better a person you’ll be.
In 2016 her follow-up work was published – Quiet: The Secret Strengths of Introverts.
As you can see in the video above, Cain is also out and about providing regular talks about the topic.
She’s particularly vocal about encouraging parents raising an introverted child. As she documents in Quiet (the 2012 one), in the past this was generally thought of as bad news. “Zomg! We’ve got a loser!” Tends to be the reaction even now.
She also aims to encourage introverts to take steps towards leadership, rather than shy away from it in the belief those roles are for extroverts.
Sighting the likes of Barack Obama as an introvert, the rallying call is to have a future where more introverts get involved in the runnings of the world. Yes. We heartily agree with that.