Give us some space, and respect, proud introvert argues

Mon Feb 13, 2012 5:11pm EST
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By Bernard Vaughan

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The child who prefers a book to a birthday party? Ask her what she wants to read. The quiet employee who dreads the open-office designs so in vogue these days? Give the man a cubicle!

So argues Susan Cain in her new book, "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking." Rather than labor fruitlessly to make introverts something they're not, parents, teachers and employers should in fact encourage the dreamier among us, the author -- and proud introvert -- says.

Rosa Parks, Sir Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Steven Spielberg, J.K. Rowling, Charles Schulz -- Cain says introverts do fine once they find their mode of expression.

Introverted? Let it be.

If we don't, Cain suggests, we could not only be stifling tomorrow's Eleanor Roosevelt, W.B. Yeats or Steve Wozniak, but impairing their mental and physical health as well.

Moreover, she says, the quiet world of the introvert has its own rewards. If people had listened more to their inner introvert, she writes, maybe Wall Street might have avoided the financial collapse in 2008.

"One thing he's not shy about," Cain says of another introvert she knows named Boykin Curry, managing director of an investment firm, "is his thesis that it was forceful extroverts who caused the global financial crash."

Cain says Western - and in particular, American - culture is dominated by what she calls the "Extrovert Ideal," described as "the omnipresent belief that the ideal self is gregarious, alpha and comfortable in the spotlight."   Continued...