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Susan Cain, a former Wall Street lawyer, longtime committed introvert and acclaimed public speaker, gave one of the most watched TED Talks on this very subject: introversion and quietude. Her refreshing, engaging look at the hidden value of introversion brims with originality and insight. Whether you prefer quiet time alone with a book or an all-night block party, Cain will inform and possibly change your perception of yourself, people, teams and the organization of society. She describes herself when she discusses how the cautious, thoughtful and reticent people among us – particularly in the West – can suffer discrimination in a culture that celebrates and monetizes the “Extrovert Ideal.” If you’re an introvert, you’ll savor quiet – of course – satisfaction from the results of Cain’s seven years of meticulous research. Extroverts might recoil from – but then quickly deny – her revelations about their less-effective leadership, ability to learn and creative capabilities. In their next breath, being extroverts, they’ll delight in Cain’s confirmation that they do indeed run the world – or at least the Western part of it. To get the best from each employee, leaders must play to people’s strengths and avoid pressuring them to conform – no easy trick. getAbstract recommends this thought-provoking treatise to teachers, parents, HR professionals, recruiters, managers, executives and anyone interested in self-discovery, however uncomfortable.

Where Do You Belong?

On some level, Cain can barely stand extroverts – because they impose on her peacefulness – but she shows remarkable compassion for both sides of the fence. Whichever camp you belong to, Cain urges you to maximize your talents, skills and peace of mind by finding equilibrium. Put yourself in the right places or circumstances to access the level of stimulation that works for you, but no more than that if you’re an introvert – and for extroverts, no less.

Imagine you’re reading at home. After a few hours, the words on the pages get blurry. You feel “understimulated.” You call your best – extroverted – friend to meet for brunch. The conversation and surroundings raise you up to your ideal level of stimulation. But your extroverted friend gets a bit antsy and understimulated, and drags you to a block party. The pounding music and loud talk impinge on your consciousness, taking you out of your comfort zone. You feel “overstimulated” and experience a powerful, irresistible need to be alone. You make excuses, run off and return home to your book, which brings you back to your equilibrium, or “sweet spot.”

About the Author

Noted introvert Susan Cain, a former Wall Street lawyer, is an acclaimed public speaker. In 2012, she gave one of the most watched TED Talks ever.

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