Sunday, February 4, 2018

Reading Listening to books - part 2

TL;DR - I'm listening to audiobooks, some reviews below, and I would love to get some recommendations from you.

This is the 2nd part of a series of (audio) book reviews Here are the previous posts:
Part 1

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, Susan Cain:
Short summary: Our world today is appreciating mostly outgoing, confident seeming people, and there is a lot of place for the quieter people.
What I have to say: In a manner of speaking, this book is quite similar in format to Carol Dweck's book, as it presents how a single trait is affecting peoples life in many facets. Despite that, I found this book quite interesting - perhaps it was that I had not heard the book's main message before, but I found most of the listening quite interesting - It started by defining introversion and extroversion and distinguishing them from shy and outgoing. In short, an extrovert is someone who enjoys social events and is energized by them, while an introvert is someone who finds those type of events taxing and needs some quiet time to recharge. While there is a correlation between introversion and shyness, the two are not synonymous. Despite the book strong focus on the character benefits of introverts (things I remember - introverts are more careful, tend to give up less easily on frustrating tasks, and are interested in deep conversations), it does not carry the message that all should be introverts, but rather advocates quite effectively for the place of introverts alongside the extroverts, each side complementing the others and together achieving much more. The book touches upon the physiological aspects of introversion and extroversion (apparently, while one can learn to mitigate the limitations of their tendency, the basic physiological reaction can be spotted in infancy and remains mostly unchanged throughout life), the claim is that the reason is a difference in stimulation threshold - introverts are more comfortable with stimulation levels that will make extroverts feel isolated. There are a lot of interesting pieces of information about the attributes of introversion, but perhaps the one I found most useful is a practical advice about how to be able to function outside of one's preferred environment - how can an introvert act in a highly extroverted manner, and how can an extrovert adopt an introverted behaviour patterns. The main thing to do is to make sure one allows for recovery time and finds their ways to recharge - an introvert acting in a densely populated space (giving a presentation, hosting a party, participating in work meeting with large-ish crowd, etc.) would fare better if they can find a place where they can be in their quiet zone - a stroll alongside a river, a chat with a friend in a remote corner, or even taking several minutes to unwind quietly in the restroom. An extrovert doing quiet work (research, creating diagrams, writing or editing) can schedule an evening with friends at a bar,  listen to energizing music, take coffee breaks in the kitchen with other coworkers, and so on. It also helps if one does act outside of this tendency in service of some value they hold highly - it would be easier to put the effort needed to be active in a "hostile" environment when it is done for a cause one is genuinely enthusiastic about (the book gives an example telling about a popular professor  who was carrying very charismatic lectures, despite being a highly introverted person, which was possible in part because he cared a lot about educating the students).
Oh, and one more thing - It's almost unavoidable to try and figure out whether one is introvert or extrovert while listening to the book. A lot of people are what the book calls "ambiverts", meaning they posses some introverted traits and some extroverted ones, with the traits manifesting more strongly sometime depend on the situation they are currently in.
All in all, I strongly recommend this book both for enabling yourself to work with other, quieter people, and to find some tips to recharge yourself in the daily routine.

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