Book review: The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World by Marti Olsen Laney (Workman Publishing, 2002)
Do you “zone out” if too much is going on? Are you energized by spending time alone? In meetings, do you need to be asked for your opinions and ideas? Do you tend to notice details that other people miss? Is your ideal celebration a small get-together, rather than a big party? Do you often feel like a tortoise surrounded by hares?
The good news is, you’re an introvert. The better news is that by celebrating the inner strengths and uniqueness of being an “innie,” THE INTROVERT ADVANTAGE shows introverts, and the extroverts who love them, how to work with instead of against their temperament to enjoy a well-lived life. Covering relationships, parenting – including parenting the introverted child – socializing, and the workplace, here are coping strategies, tactics for managing energy, and hundreds of valuable tips for not only surviving but truly thriving in an extrovert world.
Right now, if you’re thinking “OMG, she’s read something not related to Jane Eyre?!”, I’ll have you know I read a lot of things. 😛 This is a book I found through an excellent blog post by IfByYes recently. I’ve known for a fair few years that I’m an introvert, because it’s what any basic personality test has said. I just never quite knew how much that entailed, and it’s a lot.
It’s not about being reserved rather than outgoing, which is sort of the impression I was under, it’s to do with how your brain is wired and what it responds to, and that’s just for starters. My psychology course books mentioned that introverts get overwhelmed easily, because they/we process more stimuli. Sometimes we need a little break because we take in too many cognitions at once, apparently. What those books failed to say is how much that one thing influences daily life, all the way from childhood.
Essentially, introverts are people who recharge their internal batteries from inside themselves, extroverts recharge from outside themselves. 70-75% of the world’s population is extrovert. One isn’t “better” than the other to be. It’s probably easier to be extrovert because the world is generally better suited to extroverts due to them being the vast majority, but how would I know? I’ve never been one of those. It’s not about being shy, because you can be extrovert and shy, nor does it mean that you’re necessarily a recluse who hates other people. It’s just the pathways the neurotransmitters in your brain work and which chemicals turn them on. Introverts need alone time to recharge their batteries and get drained by being around people, whereas extroverts need to be around people to recharge and get drained by solitude.
This book might not be for everyone, not even every introvert. (Extroverts can read it in order to better understand their introverted partners, children, friends or colleagues.) However, for me, I needed this book more than I thought I did. I got it because it sounded interesting and I thought “hey yeah, I’m one of those, I’ll check it out” but the number of times the book would say something and I’d find it resonated with me and my life so far was uncanny: “Oh so THAT’S why!” Now I know myself better and feel much better equipped dealing with situations because now I finally know what the “problem” is, and how to “fix” it. Full on family gatherings which were originally meant to be with three people but turned into 15 – total sensory overload, but could go out for a bit and get some lovely bits of freshly pruned ivy to make wands out of. Balance temporarily restored. 🙂
Not to say I completely gobbled up every letter of the book. The bit about carrying an “emergency kit” was a bit over the top for me, but for someone who is quite far down the introverted side of the scale, it’s probably one of the most important books you can ever hope to read. In fact, the only thing I didn’t like about it was the fact that all the text was a dark blue, not black. Why? Black is much better contrast for reading.
5 out of 5 central nervous systems.
The Introvert Advantage is also available on Amazon Kindle, but as the price difference was only about 50p, I decided to go for the actual book. Marti Olsen Laney also has a website, where you can get in touch with her or participate in a forum, should you feel inclined to do so.