Monday, October 12, 2015

Understanding and Valuing Introverts

Three Book Reviews on Introverts

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
by Susan Cain

Quiet is a New York Times best seller. It is beautifully written, well researched and offers a wealth of information about the differences between introverts and extroverts. Cain gives many illustrations to show the reader that extroverts prefer action to contemplation, risk taking to certainty, and they are comfortable with conflict. They also make fast decisions, multitask, think out loud, and are talkative and interesting.

Introverts, in contrast like being alone, enjoy being cooperative, work slowly and deliberately, have great power of concentration, think before they speak, express themselves better in writing than in speaking, dislike conflict. They are apt to be sensitive and serious.

Cain gives evidence that extroverts are highly valued in our culture and introverts are ignored or even looked down on. This should not be. She explains in detail the valuable contributions introverts make to our culture and our world. Introverts are thinkers, creative and visionary. This is an excellent, thoughtful and valuable book.

The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World

by Marti Olsen Laney, Psy.D.  

The Introvert Advantage is a well researched and well written book detailing in clear and practical ways the surprising advantages of being an introvert in an extroverted world. This book offers good news for introverts. There’s nothing wrong with being quiet and reserved. In fact there is now scientific and psychological evidence that being an introvert has advantages. Laney gives valuable tips to help introverts not just get by, but actually flourish in our extroverted world. 

Laney gives evidence about the genetic differences in introverts and extroverts. In my layman’s understanding – our brain chemistry differs dramatically. Laney provides clear scientific information about this with pictures of the brain to help us understand.

Much of the book presents helpful ideas about how to live as an introvert in an extroverted world. Laney describes how to do this in our relationships, in parenting – including parenting an introverted child, in socializing and in working. The final section of the book offers many tips on how to create a life that’s “Just Right” for you.

Laney cites many of the same sources as Susan Cain in her book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a world that can’t stop talking. Yet the books are quite different from each other. I highly recommend both. The Introvert Advantage offers more practical information useful in navigating life. Enjoy the books. Introverts love to read. I know because I’m an introvert.

Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture
By Adam S. McHugh

Introverts in the Church presents up to date information about the inborn differences between introverts and extroverts as offered in the two prior books. Those who haven’t already read on this topic will find this valuable. Much of the book focuses on introverted pastors and leaders. McHugh makes the point that introverted pastors have gifts the church needs and these gifts are often not appreciated or recognized. The focus on introverted pastors and leaders disappointed me as a church member. I expected the book to focus on how the church can minister to introverted members – including children – who often are timid in groups. On page 197 McHugh finally has a few pages on welcoming introverts. This is helpful though sparse.

Nevertheless, the book did help me understand that introverts are drawn to quiet contemplation and prayer while extroverts are not. Introverts are also more comfortable in one to one relationships than with groups. This rings true for me – an introvert.

The list below can be helpful. I’m not sure who wrote it. There is much more good information like this in the books above.

How to Care for Introverts
  1. Respect their need for privacy
  2. Never embarrass them in public
  3. Let them observe first in new situations
  4. Give them time to think. Don’t demand instant answers.
  5. Don’t interrupt them.
  6. Give them advance notice of expected changes in their lives.
  7. Give them fifteen minute warnings to finish whatever they are doing.
  8. Reprimand them privately.
  9. Teach them new skills privately
  10. Enable them to find one best friend who has similar interests and abilities.
  11. Don’t push them to make lots of friends.
  12. Respect their introversion. Don’t try to make them into extroverts.
You created my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:13-14

Blessings, Dottie

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