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Sssh….are you an introvert?

Written by the Bell Team

Do you sometimes wish you could work or study alone? Do your colleagues or classmates drive you crazy with their talking?

Is your favourite time of day the moment when you get home and can relax in silence? If you answer ‘yes’ to these questions you’re probably an introvert.

An introvert is someone who prefers to think and work alone. According to Susan Cain, author of ‘Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking’, this is not the same as being shy. A shy person may want to interact with other people but is afraid to do so. An introverted person, on the other hand, is happy to be alone.

Cain, whose book is being talked about in media across the world, estimates that a third to a half of all people are introverts. But she also says that, since the beginning of the 20th century, western society has preferred extroverts. What do we mean by extrovert? An extrovert is someone who is more interested in talking and playing an active part in their social world.


Here are some of the characteristics of introverts and extroverts:

Introverts may be…



Not wanting to speak freely


Using the brain, thinking things through


Thinking about things, slowly and quietly


Alone, isolated



Extroverts may be…





Making people laugh or enjoy themselves


Not afraid to do or say things

Life and soul of the party

A fun and sociable person

Test your listening skills with these questions:

Learn more about Susan Cain’s ideas and test your listening skills

1. What did Cain take to summer camp when she was a child?

2. What word did the camp leader teach the children? Why was the spelling wrong?

3. What was her first job? What job did she really want to do?

4. According to Cain, what is introversion?

5. Which important places are now designed for extroverts?

6. Cain talks about introverted leaders. Which three does she mention?

7. And which creative introverts does she mention?

8. Why did Americans start to value extroverts more in the 20th century?

9. Which important family member does Cain talk about? Why?

10. What are her 3 ‘calls for action’?

Discussion questions

Why not talk about this topic with friends and colleagues? Here are some questions to get you started:

1. Do you think you are an introvert or an extrovert? Or could you be an introvert who has learned how to extrovert (called a pseudo-extrovert, or ‘fake’ extrovert)?

2. Which style is preferred in your country – quiet and thoughtful or talkative and energetic?

3. Is it possible to change your personality to fit into your society? And is it right?

Written by the Bell Team,
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