When I read the title of the book, I thought that this is going to tell me ways of how introverts can exert their power. In some sense it does but it is not predominantly about that. It talks about everything related to introverts and exercising your power is probably just another chapter. This is where I was a little disappointed because I was coming with different expectations. What I did like is that after reading the book I realize that being an introvert is normal. That you don’t have to feel guilty if you don’t want to be amidst a group of people (read party). That sometimes you prefer to sit in a corner and read your book.
I learnt quite a few things from this book. It talks about how a long time ago the culture in US was the Culture of Character. What people appreciated most was your character and hence that is what you focused on. Then in the 1900s it changed to the Culture of Personality. What people looked for was how outgoing you were. How comfortable and confident you were talking to people around you. This is what led to the promotion of extroversion. Kids in school are encouraged to participate in group exercises, public speaking and so on. The more you speak up, the more you are heard. Be it in college or in work place. Extroversion is more or less correlated with leadership in everybody’s eyes. People have ignored that not everybody is born alike and not everybody appreciates these extrovert activities. Because extroversion is valued, everybody strives towards it whether they like it or not.
The author also talks about how different races have different degrees of extroversion. Asians as a race are quite introverts (of course this doesn’t mean that all of them are but more people are introverts than extroverts) while Americans by virtue of their origin are not. Most Americans were immigrants – they came from far away lands. This fact implies they have to willing to be travel to new places with new people. Asian culture on the other hand promotes introversion. Kids who talk less and read more are admired more. This is why Asian students take some time to adjust in American universities where they are expected to speak up and in a group setting.
Further, introversion is not just related to people. Just as they shy away from new people, introverts also shy away from new things. They like to take baby steps.
That said it doesn’t mean you will never find an introvert doing anything extrovert. If they have a passion or love of something that requires them to go out of their boundaries then they will do that. They will find it a little taxing though because it will take them a lot of effort and energy to do that; and for that they will have ways to recover their energy back.
My takeaway from this book is – we should identify introverts around us and accept them for who they are. More so with the kids. If there is an introvert kid don’t push them towards extrovert activities. Expose them slowly to new things and people. See what they like. One would wonder why wouldn’t the same advice go for extroverts. Well it does except that people are more accepting towards extroverts than introverts in today’s culture. It is easier to see why someone would want to go to a party vs why one wouldn’t. It’s easier to accept that doing things in a group is fun vs doing it alone. How many times have you seen a lone traveler and wondered to yourself why did they come alone? What fun is that? That is the reason we need to be more accepting of introverts.