As I have read and then reread Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain, I am struck by the density of good information in it. Susan starts out by tracing the development of the “Culture of Personality” of the preceding “Culture of Character”. The importance of the qualities of Duty, Honor and Integrity were deprecated in favor of the qualities of Attractiveness, Dominance and Energy. Even Lux detergent got into the act of assuring us that by using their product the unpopular Joan could gain a “deep, sure, inner conviction of being charming”.
The Extrovert Ideal took a toll on the introverted among us, and by 1960 one third of prescriptions from U.S. doctors was for anti-anxiety medications, one of which was “FOR THE ANXIETY THAT COMES FROM NOT FITTING IN”. Susan goes on to give us a view into a Tony Robbins event, where participants are taught to be more outgoing. She goes on to share research that the Charismatic leader is not the best choice in all leadership situations.
One of the most useful sections of the book is clearly titled “When Collaboration Kills Creativity”. In the business environment the latest fad is innovation and the workhorse of innovating is still brainstorming. The idea is that synergy abounds when a group gathers to have thoughts that have never been thought before. Despite all the hype the results are less than stellar, one organizational psychologist is quoted that “evidence from science suggests that business people must be insane to use brainstorming groups”. There are a number of explanations for the suboptimal results. One that I have seen is production blocking, where since there can only be one thread of discussion in a group, most people are sitting idly. The best approach is working up ideas independently and then bringing them together. Online brainstorming seems to enjoy the benefits of both approaches.
In the upcoming weeks I will review more about this book.The next installment talks about the deep differences between introverts and extraverts. Find out what squirming babies have to do with it. In the meantime, leave a comment about how whether you see yourself as in introvert or extravert and thanks to those who click through to Amazon.com and buy things. I do appreciate it.