I knew as soon as I read the title I was going to love this book: “Quiet, The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking.”
Not only am I an introvert who lives in a world that can’t stop talking, I am an introvert with a job where I am paid to talk.
I’m a meteorologist on a morning TV news show. From 4:30-9:00 AM 5 days a week, I talk. And talk. And talk. Oh, and I have to be upbeat and “outgoing” and pretend like I’m an extrovert. Because really? Who wants to watch a quiet, introspective, soft-spoken soul deliver the weather report? I have to be perky. I have to be “on.” I’m not allowed to be in a bad mood… or just be… quiet.
I did the math once.
Between my tv forecasts, radio updates & recorded web weathers, I talk approximately 51 minutes over the course of 4.5 hours each morning. That’s just the actual weather talking.
It doesn’t include all the other chatter on TV outside of my forecasts. It also doesn’t include talking during commercial breaks with my co-workers or conversations with my producers. It definitely does not include all of the social media interaction I have with viewers. I consider online conversations just as much talking as the actual verbal communication I do on TV. And when I’m not talking, someone else is: a news anchor, a reporter, a commercial.
It’s a lot. And it’s especially a lot for an introvert.
When you work in a TV news job there is an assumption made that you must be an extrovert. After all, you seem outgoing on TV. You must love to talk, since that’s all you do. You must love to be around people, because you are in their living room every single morning.
While I think many extroverted people are drawn to the TV news business, there are plenty of introverts forced to play the game.
Being an introvert doesn’t mean I’m shy. In fact, I’m not shy at all. As “Quiet” differentiates: “The shy person is afraid to speak up, while the introvert is just overstimulated.” To the outside world (extroverts), those two appear to be the same. I’ve long referred to myself as an extroverted introvert. I don’t mind being around people. But I have a limit. At some point, I have got to have some peace, quiet and isolation. It’s how I recharge. It’s how I can continue to live in an extroverted world working at an extroverted job surrounded by extroverts.
I cannot tell you the number of mornings when 8:30 rolls around and I think to myself, “I really wish I could just stop talking.” I am so sick of hearing my own voice in my head. I mentally psych myself up to power through the next 30 minutes until I can take a small break – from talking. You know those people in your life who just love to hear themselves talk? They’re probably extroverts.
There is nothing wrong with extroverts. I am married to one. I was raised by one. I thank God for them, since they have helped me learn to navigate in an extroverted world.
As “Quiet” alludes, I love my job, so I’ve had to create an extroverted persona to get me through the day. I started out in college studying to be a news reporter. I quickly realized it wasn’t for me when I had to get pushy with people and shove a microphone into someone’s face while shouting my question louder than everyone else in the room. What was I thinking? Thankfully, there are others who are really good at this. Thankfully, I discovered weather was less invasive and I changed my route of study.
I’ve been told more than once in my career that I should “Speak up,” “Be more commanding,” “Be more authoritative.” Sometimes I blamed that on being a woman. Sometimes I blamed it on being “too nice,” but as I grow as a person, I realize it’s more about who I am in my core. It’s not a bad thing. It’s a misunderstood thing.
Sure, there are times that I’ve been passed over for a promotion for the person who shouted louder. Sometimes the person who talks the better game has their ideas implemented over mine whether they are good or bad. Sometimes people may give a good presentation, but may lack leadership ability. I agree with “Quiet” in that it is so “easy to confuse schmoozing ability with talent. Someone who is a good presenter and easy to get along with are traits which are rewarded. They are valuable traits, but we put too much of a premium on presenting and not enough on substance and critical thinking.”
Think about some of the politicians you see on TV. It’s not always the best or smartest ones who get elected or heard. Sometimes it’s just the best talkers.
Not one word was shocking or surprising in the book – but rather enlightening and refreshing. Finally, someone was writing what I have been feeling my entire life. Not only did someone get it, they embraced it, celebrated it and made a job out of it!
If you’re an introvert, read this book. If you’re an extrovert who knows any introverted people, read this book. If you’re the manager of people or an owner of a business, please read this book.
Thank you, Susan Cain, for finding your introverted voice and providing awareness and affirmation for us introverts. I’m going to go back to work now. Talking. And talking. And more talking. But then, I’m going to home and just BE… QUIET.