The Quiet Revolution

Mulla Nasrudin (‘Take my Hand?’), the mythical intelligent fool from the Middle East whose deeds are passed on from generations as folklore brings another story…

One day Mulla Nasrudin was in the market and saw birds for sale at five hundred reals each. “My bird,” he thought, “which is larger than any of these is worth far more.” The next day, he took his pet hen to market. Nobody would offer him more than fifity reals for it.

 The Mulla began to shout:

“O people! This is a disgrace! Yesterday you were selling birds only half this size at ten times the price.”

Someone interrupted him: “Nasrudin, those were parrots – talking birds. They are worth more because they talk.”

“Fool!” said Nasrudin; “those birds you value only because they can talk. This one, which has wonderful thoughts and yet does not annoy people with chatter, you reject.”



Talking about “Quiet”, Susan Cain in this TED talk video eloquently talks about the power of introverts.

It is critical to differentiate a few terms being used with some overlap when they are truly completely different connotation in usage. Cain distinguishes introversion—characterized by her as a preference for a quiet, more minimally stimulating environment (they are comfortable in their own skin and do not feel compelled to use the loudspeaker)- from being shy (a fear of negative judgment) and from being anti-social (introverts and extroverts being differently social), and from autism (inability to read social cues and understand other minds not being characteristic of introverts.)

Cain adopting the ‘Free Trait Theory’ of Dr Brian Little, agrees that introverts are capable of acting like extroverts for core personal goals (work they consider important, people they love, or anything they value highly)- provided they also grant themselves restorative niches (places to go and times to be their own real selves). Introverts and extroverts have different brain physiology.

Cain created a site called the Quiet Revolution ( where she and others explore the aspects of introverts.

Cain is not seeking introvert domination. However what she seems to be advocating is to put the ball in the managers plate to be aware of these issues, so they can provide a better balance and inclusion of different work styles, acknowledging that big ideas and great leadership can come from either personality type. If a manager is oblivious to these traits, then the manager is failing in providing optimal leadership by failing to harness the full potential of his team.

The two greatest gifts a parent can give a child to blossom: the space to emotionally attach, and the freedom to individuate. A parent has to be a strong support and source of nurture for the highly emotional sensitive child, while at the same time fostering autonomy. She brings up he important point of how introverted kids are misunderstood and mishandled by their parents should give pause. Indeed, in an age of group work, Cain’s insights into the stresses of nonstop socializing for some children are crucial. She advices parents to view their introverted offspring’s social style with understanding rather than fear. Not doing so can have grave consequences especially as this story indicates (

For a child at school she suggests ideas that would create safe environment for an introvert to participate- one such idea is the think/pair/share technique. This is a technique where the teacher asks the students a question; asks them to think about the answer. They pair up with another student to talk about their reflections. And then, once they’re paired, once they’ve articulated it with that partner, then you ask each pair to share their thoughts with the room as a whole. And this does a lot of great things for introverted kids. No. 1, it gives them the time to process. No. 2, it allows them to get the experience of articulating their thoughts out loud. But in front of only one other student, they don’t have to do it in front of the whole class. And then, often, once they have had that warmup period with one other student, they’re then much more likely to want to share with the whole class.

Are we giving our kids the space they need?


Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking- Susan Cain