by Marti Olsen Laney Workman Publishing, 2002 Review by April Chase on Feb 4th 2003
If you've been called shy, a
shrinking violet, or a wallflower; if your friends tease you about still waters
that run deep; or if you feel that you're just not a "people" person,
you may find this book very revealing. Dr. Laney, an introvert herself,
convincingly explains the reasons for your behavior, and the differences
between an introvert (you) and an extrovert (most of the rest of the world).
Popular culture is very
extrovert-oriented. "America was built on rugged individualism and the
importance of citizens speaking their minds. We value action, speed,
competition, and drive," writes Laney. Introverts, quieter and with a much
lower energy level than "outies," often perceive themselves as slow,
lazy, or just somehow wrong. They are seldom portrayed positively in the media,
and may be urged to be more outgoing by their parents and peers. And, since
introverts are outnumbered some three to one in the population, they may feel
overwhelmed by all the extroverts around them.
To help develop coping skills, the
book offers a number of checklists and quizzes to gauge where you fall on the
introvert/extrovert scale, and where the significant others in your life fall,
too. There are sections on dealing with others in a variety of relationships,
from romantic to professional. Laney discusses how to minimize differences, how
to socialize without undo stress (socializing is a particular introvert weak
point), and how to make yourself seen and heard at work (self-promotion being
another one). By using the "Three P's: Personal Pacing, Priorities and
Parameters," introverts cannot only function in an extroverted world, but
Laney identifies some high-profile
introverts, including television journalist Diane Sawyer, first lady Laura
Bush, and a number of famous writers and actors. The impressive achievements
the people on her list have made should dispel any idea that introverts are
unable to gain (or stand) the limelight.
In some sections of the book,
though, Laney seems overly cautious in regard to the capacities of introverts.
The differences between the two personality types have long been recognized,
but the introvert personality has not been studied a great deal. The theories
Laney presents that introverts need are more inward-focused and need more
quiet time to recharge as a result of their intensity and lower energy levels -
certainly seem reasonable, even obvious. She calls the differences a matter
of"depth versus breadth."
But surely we're talking a matter of degrees, here.
Are introverts really so delicate
that it is necessary for them to explain to their dinner partner pre-date that
peaceful surroundings are a personality-type necessity for them? By encouraging
"innies" to explain (and obey) their needs for rest, quiet, and
comfort, Laney makes the whole thing sound somehow rather like a disease yet
she is careful to differentiate between actual diseases like depression and an
introverted personality. It is all a bit confusing, and no doubt all the more
so to extroverts who do not share the feelings in question.
The book is very well designed,
broken down into easily readable sections with catchy headings like "Mind
Over Chatter" and "Parenting: Are They Up From Their Nap
Already?" It is interactive, with lots of questions and quizzes, and
summaries for each section so that reviewing the information is easy.It is definitely worthwhile reading, and the
more introverted a person is, the more they will get out of it.
Chase is a freelance journalist and book reviewer who lives
in Western Colorado. She is a regular contributor to a number of publications,
including The Business Times of Western Colorado and Dream Network Journal.