The Introvert Advantage: How Quiet People Can Thrive in an Extrovert World by Marti Olsen Laney Psy.D.
Do you “zone out” if too much is going on? Are you energised by spending time alone? In meetings, do you need to be asked for your opinions and ideas? Do you tend to notice details that other people miss? Is your ideal celebration a small get-together, rather than a big party? Do you often feel like a tortoise surrounded by hares? The good news is, you’re an introvert. The better news is that by celebrating the inner strengths and uniqueness of being an “innie” THE INTROVERT ADVANTAGE shows introverts, and the extroverts who love them, how to work with instead of against their temperament to enjoy a well-lived life. Covering relationships, parenting – including parenting the introverted child – socialising, and the workplace, here are coping strategies, tactics for managing energy, and hundreds of valuable tips for not only surviving but truly thriving in an extrovert world.
At least one out of four people prefers to avoid the limelight, tends to listen more than they speak, feels alone in large groups, and requires lots of private time to restore their energy. They’re introverts, and here is the book to help them boost their confidence while learning strategies for successfully living in an extrovert world.
After dispelling common myths about introverts-they’re not necessarily shy, aloof, or antisocial–The Introvert Advantage explains the real issues. Introverts are hardwired from birth to focus inward, so outside stimulation-chitchat, phone calls, parties, office meetings-can easily become “too much.”
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The Introvert Advantage dispels introverts’ belief that something is wrong with them and instead helps them recognize their inner strengths-their analytical skills, ability to think outside the box, and strong powers of concentration. It helps readers understand introversion and shows them how to determine where they fall on the introvert/extrovert continuum. It provides tools to improve relationships with partners, kids, colleagues, and friends, offering dozens of tips, including 10 ways to talk less and communicate more, 8 ways to showcase your abilities at work, how to take a child’s temperament temperature, and strategies for socializing. Finally, it shows how to not just survive, but thrive-how to take advantage of the introvert’s special qualities to create a life that’s just right for the introvert temperament, to discover new ways to expand their energy reserves, and even how, when necessary, to confidently become a temporary extrovert.
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Review of the Book: “The Introvert Advantage”
I’ve always been a staunch proponent of evidence-based knowledge and as such it is ironic that psychology has become one of my passions, as the discipline is a veritable minefield of flimsy “discoveries”. The essence of psychology is unscientific speculation which one then seeks to “prove” on scientific grounds.The Cover of Laney’s Book seems to promise more than the contents can deliver.
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Author Marti Olsen Laney (INFJ) works as a marriage and family therapist, but she was originally trained as a librarian. Given her academic training, one would expect Laney to be familiar with the relevant literature on the topic of her book and to present several sides of the issues she chooses to discuss. However, it seems that Laney has eschewed this objective approach when writing her book since “The Introvert Advantage” reads as a panegyric to introversion that is one-sided almost to the point of dishonesty.
The problems begin in the first part of the book where Laney sets out to cover the psychological and neurological research findings on introversion / extroversion. Laney’s selection of the research appears random, and her interpretations of the findings are opportunistic if not outright wrong, depending on how the substance fits with her underlying agenda. In the end, Laney’s conclusions largely derive from her own private theories of introversion which are predominantly drawn from her personal experience of being introverted and, reportedly, from her experience working as a psychotherapist.
Unfortunately, her own experience constitutes little more than anecdotal evidence and thus does not qualify as the scientific evidence for introversion on which Laney likes to claim that she is basing her case. By their nature, anecdotes do not necessarily say anything about people other than the ones they concern.
As for “real” scientific evidence regarding introversion, Laney highlights Carl Gustav Jung‘s theory of personality and temperament. Jung claimed that we are born with a certain temperament that places the individual somewhere on a continuum between the two extremes of ‘very introverted’ and ‘very extroverted’. Jung himself did not like dealing with empirical studies, but based his theory on anecdotes and personal experience. However, modern neuroscience has later confirmed that a personality dimension called introversion / extroversion does indeed exist and is genetically determined. The scientific results, however, are not as clear-cut as Laney makes them out to be, and she oversimplifies (or simply fails to consider) several problematic issues concerning the interpretation of scientific theories, thus demonstrating a lack of critical inquiry.
Along the way, Laney explains in detail how it feels to be introverted. To facilitate understanding, the lines are drawn as sharply as possible, and so according to Laney, all introverts have a rich inner world, while allextroverts constitute an unreflective, excitement-seeking mob with an endless appetite for stimulation. Thus the book lays the groundwork for a good, old-fashioned “us against them” situation: Beatles or Rolling Stones, Pepsi or Coke, cat people or dog people, introverts or extroverts – it’s the same old smear.
A typological model with only two categories can inherently never fit particularly well in reality as it is basically nothing more than a classic “either/or” view. But Laney’s two-type typology is easily understandable, and she peddles a worldview to which everyone can subscribe – every introvert, anyway.
Laney’s writing style is very thorough. Explanations are usually followed by several detailed examples taken from her own experience as an introvert and as a psychotherapist or from her imagination when reality fails to supply the ideal examples. As such the book is readable, and difficult subjects such as neurology, physiology, Darwin, Freud, Jung and all sorts of technical terms are narrated and explained in such a way that most people can understand them.
The Missing Advantage
The book is extremely voluminous in its description of the “introverted personality” and thus is likely to describe things – commonalities – that most people will recognize as part of their own personalities whether they are introverted or extroverted. It is therefore important to note that you will not necessarily gain a better understanding of introversion by reading ‘The Introvert Advantage’.
However, I do recommend the book to people with low self-esteem. While reading the book, you will never feel that it is too technical or advanced for you, and the book manages to turn introversion into something extremely positive, providing the reader with numerous assurances along the lines of: “There is nothing wrong with being quiet.” As previously mentioned, the text is peppered with numerous examples from real-life situations, and it even features exercises in personal development.
One final positive thing about the book is that it indirectly introduces the part of psychology that deals with personality and typology. The reader is served the idea that other people do not necessarily think and act like themselves which may perhaps prime the reader for a further exploration of psychological type. Hopefully the reader will take away from the book a slightly more nuanced picture of other people and the courage to explore the diverse literature that exists within the field of typology and psychological type.
So what is actually the advantage of being an introvert? After reading Laney’s book, the answer to this question is still blowing in the wind.
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