Silence is Golden–Just Not Here

The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan CainDear Reader,

I finished reading the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain recently. For one thing, it was a very heavily-researched book. I can’t believe how well-researched it was. The book is just like the title in that there is a lot of writing. Luckily, the writing is justified. It made me feel a little bit better about being an introvert after reading the book, because I started thinking about how much power the introvert has. Introverts can rule their world in a way. One of my favorite quotations from the book is based on a proverb that says, “Those who know do not speak. Those who speak do not know.” The quote is by Lao Zi. Of course, this is not universally true on all levels. There are some people who do speak and do know. But, generally, there is so much unnecessary chatter. There is always a constant pressure to speak, to talk, to communicate. I feel this the most, unsurprisingly, when with other people. If I know them and do not talk to them, it is considered rude. I can understand this. But why the need to always be talking? Why can’t silence be a virtue in itself? I recommend this book to all who feel the need to talk when they do not want to, for those who feel perfectly fine exploring life in a quieter-than-socially-accepted demeanor. I do also wonder if some people are afraid to not speak. Are they worried it will reveal a lack of intelligence? Somehow, we have all gotten onto the idea that not to talk means that there are no thoughts in the head. The proverb tells us otherwise. Still, there must be something that points in this direction. Why are we so afraid of the silence? Is it because of social stigma? Or, perhaps, does it go deeper? Are people afraid to be quiet because, in silence, there is no one to save you from your own thoughts?

Reader, what do you think? Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert? Are you comfortable with where you are?

Sincerely,

Jumbled Writer

*Photo Courtesy of http://girlmuseum.blogspot.com.

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36 Responses to Silence is Golden–Just Not Here

  1. This books sounds interesting. How much talking I do depends on the situation. I’m very unlikely to talk to people I don’t know–I do not start conversations–but if it’s a small group, and we have a reason to be together (a meeting, for example), then I’ll probably talk. A lot. If it’s a large group, then I probably won’t talk as much, if at all. In law school, when my first year classes had 80 people in them, the Socratic Method was extremely painful for me. Small seminars were more comfortable.

    • It is an interesting book, indeed. I agree with you that I am not a conversation starter, either. Even in small groups, though, I tend to shy away. It takes time for me to develop my social skills. Those 80-people classrooms are killers.
      –JW

  2. I will read this book, although I don’t think I’m an introvert – I do have a tendency to be silent around strangers. Growing up I thought ‘uncomfortable’ silence seemed to be wrong. It was as though no one knew what to say more than wanting to be silent. So I would talk to make them comfortable (I thought). Now to me idle chatter is very much seen to me on the internet. I watch what some people post on facebook – the normal mundane activities like eating or brushing their teeth and I do find that type of chatter annoying. So can one become an introvert over the years? I agree with lucycatten that often an introvert is seen as ‘snooty’ by others.

    • Yes, it can be hard to convince people that you are nice if you are not outgoing. That doesn’t make you mean by default, but it can be confusing to people. Some just prefer to go in their heads and stay there. Thanks for stopping by!
      –JW

  3. Ah, the old introvert/extrovert dilemma. For the longest time, I scored an INTJ on the MBTI test, but I don’t think that’s very accurate. I think the MBTI is like the BMI of psychology; its measurements can be greatly flawed. Sometimes it can sound accurate, but it certainly doesn’t play off of personal factors such as mental conditions. I’m almost certain I have moderate degree of social anxiety which throws the E/I considerations into serious question.

    With conversation, idle chatter, and small talk it’s the way energy is transferred during social interaction. An “I” personality expends and the “E” collects. So, quaint conversation is for an extrovert’s hungry, really. An introvert knows they don’t have infinite amounts to give, and thus, conversation becomes like currency. You expend your energy for information pertinent to your life. An extrovert is in need of “meal” and therefore will converse lightly to feel better.

    While I appreciate writers like Susan Cain making attempts for introverts to feel better about themselves, it’s the extroverts need for living that gives them an edge in the social realm. They are the natural networkers of the human race, and I love having conversations with them. They make me feel noticed. I can’t blame any true introvert for being too tired to party though.

    • A fascinating way to look at it. I am more of an I than an E, so I definitely need to be by myself to recharge and get that “currency.” I do get tired at parties, which is why I don’t attend them. Extroverts are needed in this world, though, or else we would all resemble something similar to the color gray–dull and lifeless.
      –JW

  4. Silence is essential to writers. I’d add to that solitude. I once went on a road trip with a “chatty Cathy.” I finally had to kindly ask her to be quiet for a while and take in the gorgeous mountain scenery through which we were driving. I remember my interest being peaked when I read a review of this book. It sounded like my kind of book. I haven’t read it yet, but after reading your blog, I will.

    • You bring up a good point. If you are too absorbed in talking, you can really miss out on the beauty of life. And writers do need that quiet time in order to collect the scattered thoughts. Thanks for stopping by!
      –JW

  5. I am currently trying to make a transition from talking often to talking less and listening often. I feel as if I have filled up my past with unnecessary words and I have missed out on getting to know others and learning. So here’s to a challenge!

    • I agree that talking and listening can both be effective and helpful when in a conversation. Learning is a great tool. Good luck with your challenge and thanks for visiting!
      –JW

  6. I think I am somewhere in between, but however chatty I appear at times, I think I do lean more to the introvert side. I could be alone and enjoy by myself. Still, I’d like things to be balanced 🙂

  7. JW – I’ve walked by this book in bookstores multiple times debating on whether or not I should give it a read. Sounds like I need to just make the jump and buy the book. The company I work for had all the employees do a Myers-Briggs personality test. Out of about 40 people, I was one of only FIVE introverts, which surprised me. I like my peace and quiet…it’s how I recharge my batteries…but I also like to have a healthy dose of social activity to balance it out.

    • Only five? Wow, that is rare. I would have thought there would have been more. Maybe some were afraid to answer truthfully? But please do buy/check out the book. I think you will enjoy it.
      –JW

      • Yeah, I was surprised at the low number of introverts as well. Although I don’t know what an average ratio of introverts vs. extroverts would be in most settings, like you, that seemed especially low to me (although I will say we have a ton of dominate personalities who like to give their opinions – so it could very well be accurate! ;))

        Anyways, I’ll definitely add the book to my reading list. Looking forward to giving it a read. Appreciate the recommendation!

  8. I am an extrovert. I tend to talk a lot. It has taken me many years to learn the power and comfort of silence. You’re right, there is a great deal of social pressure to always be talking or texting or communicating somehow. (Thank you for visiting my blog!)

    • Texting, another form of communication, should also be given some light. I think the book talks a bit about that. But yes, texting can almost be like a chore when people start demanding that you text them constantly.
      –JW

  9. I tend to change from one to the other depending who I’m with. My close friends would describe me as an extrovert yet many of them have told me that when they first met me I came across as introverted and even aloof! Thank you for following my blog, hope you find it interesting!

    • I think that it does change. When we are more comfortable with people, we are more willing to show our true selves, whereas being with strangers can be an uncomfortable experience that stifles us.
      –JW

  10. It’s a good book. I got a copy for my extra extroverted mom to help understand her deeply introverted daughter.

    Like @oliviadiamond, I need quiet to think things through in the same way more extrovert-inclined “chatty cathy” people need talk to think things through. When I’m expected to be louder in groups, I end up spending my time preparing what to say rather than listen, think, enjoy. Balance, as per usual, seems to be the answer.

    • I agree that it is difficult to speak in front of groups. I like to keep to myself and if I do have to talk, I do not get the full experience that I probably should. I don’t even have that many thoughts in my head, so I don’t know why I need all of this time alone to think. Thanks for stopping by!
      –JW

  11. I grew up in a society where people spoke their minds, gave their opinion on all and sundry and often none too tactfully. We’ve joined a church group where humility and quietness are valued highly.
    The common sentiment would sooner be “Don’t think you need to give your opinion–rather invite others to give theirs. Keep a low profile. A closed mouth gathers no feet. Don’t always speak up and express your thoughts on the matter because you may be wrong.”
    There is indeed merit in listening to others, inviting their input, etc. But sometimes we do need to stick our neck out and say something. When decisions need to be made, the process could be speeded up if only people would say what they think, but no one wants to appear pushy. So there are blessings and curses in both camps.

  12. Thank you so very much for reading my post. I enjoyed reading through your about you and your fictional truth. Intelligent quiet is preferable to talking just to be heard or because you fear the silence. I really liked this book and found it quite informative as well.

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