Last week I attended a seminar presented by the ISAAGNY group hosted by the Churchill School on East 29th Street.  Susan Cain, author of the upcoming book, Quiet:  The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, spoke to a packed audience of school heads and admissions directors.

“Many of the achievements that have propelled society, from the theory of evolution to the invention of the PC, from van Gogh’s sunflowers to the Cat in the Hat, came from people who were quiet, cerebral, and sensitive.  Even in less obviously introverted occupations, like finance, politics, and activism, some of the greatest leaps forward were made by introverts: Eleanor Roosevelt. Al Gore. Warren Buffett. Gandhi”.  (Cain, 2011)

Susan, a self prescribed introvert, told true stories about quiet children who are often overlooked during the admissions process for private elementary schools.  She relayed that the quiet children are often very thoughtful in their approach to new situations and need more time to warm up.  Cain also shared that many introverted people are comfortable working independently and they are creative.

In addition to the time spend working towards a discovery, most creative work is done by people working independently, by people who are comfortable working alone (Cain, New York, 2011).

In her article in the New York Times Sunday Review, Susan tells of another advantage to being a “sitter” or those who are watchful, slow-to-warm-up types who stick to the sidelines.  It is a willingness to listen and to carry out other people’s ideas.  Introverted leaders practice their communication skills more and smile more.

Cain’s advice to the private school head’s and admissions staff was to give the quiet children more time to warm up, listen to what people who have a long relationship with the child say about him/her, and consider the benefits of having quiet children in the mix during enrollment time.

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” – Gandhi