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Let’s all learn something by being quiet

This is something I think about often surrounded by kids, extended family, friends, and colleagues. We live in a loud world that moves way too fast. I’ve always been a naturally social person, and most people who know me would say I’m an extrovert (with a capital E). But, I have also tried to learn to be comfortable with myself, and enjoy what little quiet time I can find.

I’m really into Susan Cain’s book right now: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. It’s her first book, it took her seven years to write, and it’s been a huge bestseller. She’s not a doctor or a journalist. She’s a former lawyer turned writer with a long history and love of reading who wrote about a subject that she can relate to from experience. I admire what the author has done with Quiet, and from a publishing perspective that she has taken a seemingly simple subject and turned it into this interesting, accessible, and highly commercial book that so many people are eager to read.

Last night I was talking with the girls about introverts and extroverts explaining the differences which members of our family fall into which category, and Alea (who is six) blurted out that she thinks my dad is a “sleepovert” because he likes to sleep a lot. That got a good laugh!

I came across this article in biographile.com which discusses her TED talk last year that has now been viewed almost four million times. It is one of the top ten TED talks of all time. It’s worth watching to learn more about her subject, but also to see an example of a little book that has struck a chord with the general public in a big way.

It leads me to wonder what other untapped subjects are out there that are poised to be the next Quiet. Anyone have any ideas or subjects you’d like to see explored in this way?

3 Responses to Let’s all learn something by being quiet

  1. EDWARD says:

    Although it is a common assertion to say “most people who know me would say I’m an extrovert (with a capital E)”, it is almost unheard of for a person to say “most people who know me would say I’m an introvert (with a capital I).” Being an introvert is something you would prefer to keep in the closet along with being unemployed, overweight, gay, bipolar, dyslexic or any other number of misfortunes the oh-so-tolerant American public deems and dismisses as patently inferior.
    The most obvious group of readers of books such as QUIET would be people who self-identify with introverts. The other class of readers would be a sliver of compassionate social sensitives and a large gaggle of gawkers. I went through childhood with a physical deformity. As an adult I learned that JOHN GARDNER believed a childhood deformity improves one’s chances of becoming a superior novelist. Do you think that did anything to lessen the trauma of my childhood? Do you think anything will compensate for the brutality small children inflict on one another?
    Although there is a difference between a serious investigation of other lifestyles vs. “what other freaks you got behind that tent?”, perhaps that distinction is lost, perhaps willfully, if the question is posed as ‘are there any other bestsellers out there like QUIET?’

  2. I think Susan Cain also came up with a brilliant marketing tactic, which is that she had a quiz on her website titled (I think), Are you an Introvert or an Extrovert.

    Most of the reading public considers themselves Introverts and a lot of us went to her web page to take that quiz and learned about that book. Not just that, reporters talked about it, too, because they wanted to know which category they fell under, and more importantly, they shared this fun quiz with their readers.

    The book got a lot of word of mouth because people were posting links to the book, to the quiz, and to articles about it, saying, “Well, I’m an introvert but that doesn’t mean I’m shy. It doesn’t mean I’m a loner. It doesn’t mean I don’t like people.” The whole concept of how we term the word “introvert” was questioned, and I think that started very interesting water cooler discussions among people.

  3. Stacey says:

    Thanks, Edward and Mridu, for your thoughtful comments to my post. Very much appreciated and please keep reading!

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