"Love is essential: gregariousness is optional. Cherish your nearest and dearest. Work with colleagues you respect. Scan new acquaintances for those who might fall into the former categories or whose company you enjoy for its own sake. And don’t worry about socializing with everyone else. Relationships make everyone happier, introverts included, but think quality over quantity.
The secret to life is to put yourself in the right lighting. For some it’s a Broadway spotlight; for others, a lamplit desk. Use your natural powers-of persistence, concentration, insight, and sensitivity-to do work you love and work that matters. Solve problems,make art, think deeply.
Figure out what you are meant to contribute to this world and make sure you contribute it. If this requires public speaking or networking or other activities that make you uncomfortable, do them anyway. But accept that they’re difficult, get the training you need to make them easier, and reward yourself when you’re done.
Quit your job as a TV anchor and get a degree in library science. But if TV anchoring is what you love, then create an extroverted persona to get yourself through the day. Here’s a rule of thumb for networking events; one new honest-go-to-goodness relationship is worth ten fistfuls of business cards. Rush home afterward and kick back on your sofa. Carve our restorative niches.
Respect your loved one’s need for socializing and your own for solitude.
Spend your free time the way you like, not the way you think you’re supposed to. Stay home on New Years Eve if that’s what makes you happy. Skip the committee meeting. Cross the street to avoid making aimless chitchat with random acquaintances. Read. Cook. Run. Write a story. Make a deal with yourself that you’ll attend a set number of social events in exchange for not feeling guilty when you beg off.
If your children are quiet, help them make peace with new situations and new people, but otherwise let them be themselves. Delight in the originality of their minds. Take pride in the strength of their consciences and the loyalty of their friendships. Don’t expect them to follow the gang. Encourage them to follow their passions instead. Throw confetti they claim the fruits of those passions, whether it’s on the drummer’s throne, on the softball field, or the page.
If you’re a teacher, enjoy your gregarious and participatory students. But don’t forget to cultivate the shy, the gentles, the autonomous, the ones with single-minded enthusiasms for chemistry sets or parrot taxonomy or nineteenth-century art. They are the artists, engineers, and thinkers of tomorrow.
If you’re a manager, remember that one third to one half of your workforce is probably introverted, whether they appear that way or not. Think twice how you design your organization’s office space. Don’t expect introverts to get jazzed up about open office plans or, for that matter, lunchtime birthday parties or team-building retreats. Make the most of introverts’ strengths–these are people who can help you think deeply, strategize, solve complex problems, and spot canaries in your coal mine.
Also remember the degrees of the New Groupthink. If it’s creativity you are after, ask your employees to solve problems alone before sharing their ideas. If you want the wisdom of the crowd, gather it electronically, or in writing, and make sure people can’t see each other ideas until everyone’s had the chance to contribute. Face-to-face contact is important because it builds trust, but group dynamics contain unavoidable impediments to creative thinking. Arrange people to interact one-on-one and in small, casual groups. Don’t mistake assertiveness or eloquence for good ideas. If you have a proactive work force (and I hope you do) remember that they may perform better an introverted leader that an extroverted or charismatic one.
Whoever you are, bear in mind that appearance is not reality. Some people act like extroverts, but the efforts costs them energy, authenticity, and even physical health. Others seem aloof or contained, but their inner landscapes are rich and full of drama. So the next time you see a person with a composed face and a soft voice, remember that inside her mind she might be solving an equation, composing a sonnet, designing a hat. She might, that is, be deploying the powers of quiet.
We know from myths and fairy tales that there are many different kinds of powers in the world. One child is given a light saber, another a wizard’s education. The trick is not to amass all the different kinds of available peer, but to use well the kind you’ve been granted. Introverts are offered keys to private gardens full of riches. To possess such a key is to tumble like Alice down her rabbit hole. She didn’t choose to go to Wonderland–but she made it an adventure that was fresh and fantastic and very much her own.
Lewis Carol was an introvert, too, by the way. Without him, there would be no Alice in Wonderland.”
— Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain