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  • Javier Coronel

Understanding the quiet person in the room

Updated: Jul 20, 2021

Have you ever wondered whether we are born introverted or extroverted? Do you think the environment we are in affects how we act? Well as someone who is passionate about learning human psychology I sought out to find answers to these complex questions myself which is how I came upon this book by Susan Cain.

Susan Cain is a self-described introvert who has actively worked on being extroverted purely for the reason of being an advocate for introverts and their place in the world. In the United States the values of an Extrovert have always been desired which is why almost every system in this country revolves around them. From a young age we are forced to read in front of the class, present our projects for our peers, raise our voices to exude confidence, etc. Yet the quiet individual in the back of the room is seen as lacking confidence, creativity, and overall value. Is that true? Quite the opposite. Essentially this aspect of our psyche can be seen in the way we view colors: red is different from yellow so the function of red and yellow differ but the value of them is equally important.

Imagine a scenario where a room has five extroverted people. How well do you think that conversation would go? More than likely they would accidentally consistently speak over each other. This was proven to be true in some studies Susan Cain looked into for this book. Not only that, but it was also found that when extroverts communicate with other extroverts the conversation tends to be more superficial than situations where an extrovert is communicating with an introvert. Introverts also possess the ability to have a creative edge as their preference for solitude allows them to marinate in their thoughts for longer periods of time than their over-stimulated counterparts. Groups with a good mix of introverts and extroverts were found to be more efficient than groups entirely composed of extroverts or introverts.

One thing that was super interesting to me in this book is the case study of China. The culture of China is significantly different than the United States so it is not surprising when Susan Cain talks about how in China introverted values are actually preferred. Speaking too much in that country is an indication that the person actually does not know what they are saying since they are filling the room with an abundance of words as they have no way of being concise. Speaking in scenarios where higher-ups are present can be a sign of disrespect whereas in the United States the idea of brainstorming sessions and other similar strategies has continued to grow. This is why college students from China have trouble connecting with their professors at institutions in the United States. There is nothing wrong with them; they simply function differently.

I always preach about continuing to grow my level of compassion and I feel this is a good example of that. I primarily have extroverted traits and after reading this book I now have a better understanding of why not everyone is like that and why everyone should not have to conform to the extroverted model. It is okay to be different because we all provide a different value to the rooms we walk into and neither is more important than the other. Whether you are the outspoken individual in the room or the quiet one hiding behind a pen and paper, you provide a value unlike anyone else and you shouldn't have to change that.

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