Many who know me as an adult would scoff at that statement but as a child I had a very outgoing personality but I was very shy and self-conscious. (I still am sometimes especially when speaking in front of large groups.) I was a little overweight kid who wore thick-glasses so making friends was not the easiest thing in the world. As a result, I developed habits of an introvert especially reading and studying. These revelations come after reading Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in World that Can’t Stop Talking. A friend recommended this book to me not long ago and I thought it would be a great way to understand my introverted friends, family and coworkers. I found out a lot more about myself and how I relate to people. The author goes into great detail about the psychological mindset of introverts and explains the roots of America’s insistence on the “extrovert ideal.”
I found out things about myself while reading this book but also gained a better understanding of those around me. I work in the library profession where many of my coworkers are introverts. I have gone through times where I don’t seem to know how to relate to them and probably irritate them with endless chatter. I discovered that if you leave others their quiet time to recharge, they don’t mind engaging. I also realized that while reading this book that more extroverted individuals should flock to the library science profession. I mean I interact with people on a daily basis both face-to-face and on the phone. I think there is room for those who like a quieter work environment, maybe in technical services or at a small, quiet branch. However, it baffles me that the job “librarian” is still seen as something that bookish, introverted individuals should enjoy. While there are elements of that, the type of work and the temperament of librarians is changing. There are many roles that almost require an extroverted personality.
Another issue that really resonated for me was Cain’s discussion of office dynamics and team collaboration. She discussed many instances where an individual’s best work is often done alone. I feel like many employers today over-emphasize the role of collaboration. If you have many employees that lean towards introversion, it might be better to see what they can do on their own. I think when team and committees are formed, the extroverts tend to win out over the others. (I say this because I am guilty of doing on probably more than one occasion.) I went to primary school at the beginning of the trend of group learning in schools. I had so many group assignments and projects and I really hating doing them because I ended doing the bulk of the work even when trying to distribute it evenly. Even as an adult, That’s not to say that nothing good comes from a committee but sometimes that are just too many cooks and you have to go it alone to get things done.
I firmly believe that my profession would be better served if more extroverts were to consider library science. I think it adds balance to any workplace. Personally, I seem to get along better with my more introverted coworkers. Maybe it has something to do with the yin-yang or different temperaments complementing each other. As a side note, if you have kids who are a different temperament than you, this book also offers a very informative section on parenting those kids to help them fully know who they are and not be ashamed of it.