A third to a half of the population are introverts. Historically, this included famous leaders such as Gandhi and Eleanor Roosevelt, thinkers who were reluctant to be the centre of attention yet stood up because they believed in a cause.
According to Susan Cain, society today conveys the message that introversion is bad. She can recall countless times as a child when she was teased or discouraged from silently reading a book. As an adult she became a lawyer instead of a writer and went to loud bars with her friends instead of quiet dinners. Today she is the writer of a book about introverts and cites the seven years she spent writing her novel as sheer bliss.
Unfortunately, in social settings the most charismatic person’s ideas are those taken onboard, regardless of quality. Schools constantly encourage group work, even beginning with subjects traditionally seen as ‘solo’ pursuits like Maths and English. Introverts work better in a quieter environment where they can formulate ideas and take them to groups later.
Cain isn’t anti- extrovert. Her husband and many of her closest friends are extroverts and she acknowledges that everyone has elements of both in their personalities. But she shows us that to maximise the potential of both types, we need to make space for introverts to be introverted.