Your sweet spot is the place where you’re optimally stimulated. […] Evidence suggests that sweet spots can have life-or-death consequences. …Drowsy extroverts behind the wheel should be especially careful–at least until they increase their arousal levels by chugging coffee or cranking up the radio. Conversely, introverts driving in loud, overly arousing traffic noise should work to stay focused, since the noise may impair their thinking. —Quiet, by Susan Cain, p125-6
I’ve been meaning to read Quiet since it came out–an entire (non-academic!) book about introversion? What’s not to like here?! And it was just the right amount of thought-provoking for “let’s ignore everything and read awhile” time. (The Psychology of Writing, which I’m also reading, provokes enough additional thought and focused attention that wisps like, “Maybe I should go get the mail…” poke through. Not a good tool for ignoring the world!) I recommend it. You might enjoy it too.
Because it’s not all the expected stuff about recharging styles and speaking up in meetings. Turns out that speaking up in meetings has a bunch of different personality “sliders” involved. Turns out that one’s ability to lie persuasively, which is related to one’s ability to read other people, is not related to introversion but is on a different “slider” still. (That’s my term, by the way, not Ms. Cain’s.) There are introverts who constantly read people and groups, and there are introverts like yours truly who don’t remember to tune in. Think about it: you know of at least a couple of extroverts, “people people,” who spend no energy on reading others. Different slider. Read the book! There’s more!
I saved this quote, though, as a one-off. I am renowned within my family for hating driving, as I’ve mentioned before. (Refresher: not hating riding in cars, but hating operating cars.) When I read these lines, I nodded hard: YES. Too loud, too busy. Too many moving parts to attend to, within and without. Too, too much. Just this morning I turned down the radio while backing out of my driveway–yes, it’s the same driveway it has been for lo these past 23 years, but I was driving the other car.
Introversion: where the world is mighty dang busy even while you’re sitting alone in a room with closed doors.
Update: If you’d prefer your information about baseline arousal in video form, try this article via Lifehacker.