A funny thing happened when Susan Cain published her best-selling book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, in 2012: it got introverts talking. Here’s how she describes the reaction:
I began to hear from people. And not just a few: I received hundreds of letters, emails, and messages. Then thousands. Then thousands upon thousands. It was like that scene in Harry Potter where a waterfall of letters to Harry cascades from the Dursley fireplace. The messages came from all over the world. They came from people aged nine to ninety, from mothers and fathers, from teachers and military leaders, from artists, designers and scientists, and accountants and CEOs. They all said the same thing: Until now, they had felt alone and were amazed to discover that they were part of a vast and distinguished tribe. For the first time in their lives, they had permission to be themselves.
Quiet tapped into something big, and the ideas at its core sparked a movement. And to help galvanize and focus that movement, Susan brought together a team to start Quiet Revolution, a company dedicated to “unlocking the power of introverts for the benefit of us all.”
Quiet Revolution is inviting voices that might otherwise go unheard to join the conversation. As Susan wrote in Quiet, we as a society have an implicit bias toward extroverts — those who talk the most get the most attention, even though there’s no link between how much we talk and the quality of our insights. And that means we too often dismiss introverts and their ideas — that is, we leave out at least a third of the population, by Susan’s estimate. And that’s costly to everybody, not just introverts.
Plenty of recent research shows the importance of making sure introverts are heard. This is especially true at work, where introverts can face a natural disadvantage, as their flashier, more socially agile peers command more attention. In fact, introverts are often able to exercise better judgment and deliver better results. “Introverts, by not being so heavily influenced by what everyone else is doing, can be more open to novel solutions,” according to Laurie Helgoe, the author of Introvert Power.
At Amazon, Jeff Bezos famously begins meetings with a period of silence. Employees read a memo about the meeting’s agenda, helping them to focus on what’s about to be discussed. “The type of clear thinking that these structured memos require also serves the purpose of leveling the playing field for team members who differ in their level of introversion and extroversion,” Harvard professor of business administration Francesca Gino wrote in the Harvard Business Review.
Quiet Revolution is making sure that introverts not only reach their own potential, but have the opportunity to be heard — in ways that can benefit everyone. And the organization is already doing this through an amazing set of tools and programs.
There’s Quiet Spaces, which is transforming office architecture by introducing spaces specifically designed for introverts. And The Quiet Leadership Institute, helping introverts tap into their leadership potential — in part, by helping leaders to recognize that introversion isn’t an obstacle that must be overcome, but a strength that can be developed. And Quiet Parenting, offering resources for parents of introverted children. And a personality assessment tool that helps anyone — whether introverted, extroverted, or somewhere in between — better understand themselves.
This initiative of HuffPost and Quiet Revolution is not only celebrating what Susan calls the distinguished tribe, opening it up to everyone who’s a member, or wants to be. Quiet Revolution has already built an amazing community. By cross-posting the work of Quiet Revolutionaries — tribe members who share their stories and photos about “what it’s like to have a quiet consciousness” — and inviting many, many more people around the world to join the conversation, we’ll build on the great work they’re already doing.
There are a range of thought leaders, authors, parents, educators and other experts sharing their stories of the challenges and possibilities of living with a quiet consciousness: middle school teacher John Spencer on how parents and teachers can help quiet children succeed, marriage and family therapist Kristen Howerton on surviving as an introverted mother, “Introvert, Dear” founder Jennifer Granneman on how extroverted parents can connect with their introverted kids, psychotherapist Arnie Kozak on how meditation can help introverts improve their inner life, author David Zweig on how to succeed without relentless self-promotion, career coach Val Nelson on how introverts can cope with conflict at work, and author Emily White on how introverts can learn to thrive in group settings.