A world that can't stop talking

Technology! Information! Images! This is a noisy culture, and many think that people who prefer quiet and stillness don't stand a chance in competing with those who don't. But they're wrong.

Crowded NYC Times Square is the classic example of a boisterous world.
Photo by Michael McDononough.
"The vast majority of teachers believe that the ideal student is an extrovert, even though, by the way, introverted students get better grades. Studies tell us the introverts are routinely passed over for leadership positions even though (according to another study), introverted people often deliver better outcomes than extroverts do," said Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, in a talk for Leading@Google talk series.

Hardbound version of Cain's book. TIME
Magazine misinterpreted Cain's study.
Shyness is NOT the same as introversion.
Cropped photo from Lavin Blog.
The book's synopsis also goes:
At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over brainstorming in teams. Although they are often labeled "quiet," it is to introverts that we owe many of the great contributions to society--from van Gogh's sunflowers to the invention of the personal computer.
But I think it's not about being introverts that make introverted people succeed, it's their inborn habits of introspection, sensitivity to others, reflection and listening that even extroverts can acquire, albeit with more effort.

Many things that make life livelier--from the appreciation of art to establishing genuine friendships to grasping abstract (even divine) truths--depend on these characteristics.

Cain seems to agree with this. "Introverts have also been found to know more about many subjects ... and what's relevant about this is that introverts are not smarter. As far as IQ goes, introverts and extroverts are totally similar. (But) the advantage that introverts have in intellectual problem-solving is the very behavioral style to which introverts are often criticized--sitting still more, reflecting more, being more reserved, being 'slow' to process stuff."

And in this noisy world, whoever said we don't have a choice but to undergo adaptation (cough, Darwinists) when silence, a counter-adaptation or reaction of sorts, is clearly wiser? So lemme enumerate our lessons so far. How to channel the "power of introverts."

  • Listen. Observe. Keep still. Get rid of distractions.
  • Set aside time for reflection on matters at hand. (Christians call this prayer.)
  • Introspect on personal strengths and weaknesses that can affect these matters, then circumspect.
  • Contemplate on goal.
  • Take decisive steps. Action!
These data say that as much, if not more, could be said with silence instead of the spoken word. A rep for Vatican's corps for social communications even said last month: "With silence, the word is more heavy, more profound and more meaningful, when it has grown from the reflection point of silence. Silence is a form of high communication.”

Timelier this time of the year #Lent.