Conference Corner – ALA Midwinter Meeting – Susan Cain on Introverts

I’m continuing a weekly blog series, “Conference Corner,” where I share my notes from conferences. I’ve now finished the first big day of Midwinter Meeting, when I got to attend the Morris Seminar. Next up was the main conference. Midwinter Meeting is more about committee meetings than educational sessions, but there were still quite a few noteworthy sessions for which I will share my notes. First up was Susan Cain, author of the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.

They also gave us a copy of the book afterward, and we got to have her sign it. Since I read nonfiction very slowly – theoretically so I can absorb it better, but practically speaking because I’m reading lots of nonfiction books at a time and rotating them – I have not yet finished the book. When I do finish, I will definitely review it here.

I have a feeling at a library conference there was perhaps an unusual proportion of introverts in the crowd. Susan Cain began her talk by discussing the main differences between extroverts and introverts. The primary difference is this: Where do you get your stimulation?

Introverts are more stimulated by lower levels of sound, light, or other outside sources. Social stimulation is the highest level of stimulation.

There are some profound advantages to being more easily stimulated.

She talked about some big contributions to society that have been made by introverts. But recently there’s a strong bias against introverts.

“When we view introversion as somewhere between a disappointment and a pathology, it’s a colossal waste.”

Many times, introverts try to pass as extroverts. This is a loss for us all at a social level.

Even in the animal kingdom, there are introverts and extroverts.

When introverted children are sitting quietly, they are paying more attention. They take in subtleties that others miss. Introverted kids know more than extroverts, even with same intelligence.

Introverts also take less risks. “Extroverts seize the day. Introverts make sure there’s a day left to seize.”

Most creative people tend to be introverts, because solitude is an important catalyst for creativity, and introverts are comfortable being alone.

Susan Cain’s Three Main Points:
1) Call for a world with more peace and quiet for everybody.
2) Call for a world in which we enjoy and celebrate introverted children.
3) We need to understand how much introverts and extroverts need each other.

We need to come together and truly delight in each other.

“Introverts are not antisocial, but differently social.”

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