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The Introvert Advantage by Marti Olsen Laney (2002)

Book review: The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World by Marti Olsen Laney (Workman Publishing, 2002)

Do you “zone out” if too much is going on? Are you energized 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 – socializing, 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.

Right now, if you’re thinking “OMG, she’s read something not related to Jane Eyre?!” – I’ll have you know I read a lot of things. ๐Ÿ˜› This is a book I found through an excellent blog post by IfByYes recently. I’ve known for a fair few years that I’m an introvert, because it’s what any basic personality test has said. I just never quite knew how much that entailed, and it’s a lot.

It’s not about being reserved rather than outgoing, which is sort of the impression I was under, it’s to do with how your brain is wired and what it responds to, and that’s just for starters. My psychology course books mentioned that introverts get overwhelmed easily, because they/we cognise more (is that even a word?). Sometimes we need a little break because we take in too many cognitions at once, apparently. What those books failed to say is how much that one thing influences daily life, all the way from childhood.

Essentially, introverts are people who recharge their internal batteries from inside themselves, extroverts recharge from outside themselves. 70-75% of the world’s population is extrovert. One isn’t “better” than the other to be. It’s probably easier to be extrovert because the world is generally better suited to extroverts due to them being the vast majority, but how would I know? I’ve never been one of those. It’s not about being shy, because you can be extrovert and shy, nor does it mean that you’re necessarily a recluse who hates other people. It’s just the pathways the neurotransmiters in your brain work and which chemicals turn them on.

This book might not be for everyone, not even every introvert. (Extroverts can read it in order to better understand their introverted partners, children, friends or colleagues.) However, for me, I needed this book more than I thought I did. I got it because it sounded interesting and I thought “hey yeah, I’m one of those, I’ll check it out” but the number of times the book would say something and I’d find it resonated with me and my life so far was uncanny: “Oh so THAT’S why!” Now I know myself better and feel much better equipped dealing with situations because now I finally know what the “problem” is, and how to “fix” it. Full on family gatherings which were originally meant to be with three people but turned into 15 – total sensory overload, but could go out for a bit and get some lovely bits of freshly pruned ivy to make wands out of. Balance temporarily restored. ๐Ÿ™‚

Not to say I completely gobbled up every letter of the book. The bit about carrying an “emergency kit” was a bit over the top, admittedly, but for someone who is quite far down the introverted side of the scale, with or without a touch of being asocial or schizoid – it’s probably one of the most important books you can ever hope to read. In fact, the only thing I didn’t like about it was the fact that all the text was a dark blue, not black. Why? Black is much better contrast for reading.

5 out of 5 central nervous systems.

The Introvert Advantage is also available on Amazon Kindle, but as the price difference was only about 50p, I decided to go for the actual book. Marti Olsen Laney also has a website, where you can get in touch with her or participate in a forum, should you feel inclined to do so.

Traxy Thornfield

A Swedish introvert residing in Robin Hood Country (Nottingham, UK) with a husband and two cats. She's an eager participant in tabletop and play-by-post roleplaying, woodworking, photography and European travel. Will get a novel out one of these days, if she doesn't get too distracted along the way.

9 thoughts on “The Introvert Advantage by Marti Olsen Laney (2002)

  1. Reading that book was a big “aha!” moment for me. I think that the author is VERY introverted, though. I saw her in an interview once and she seemed so introverted that she came off as borderline autistic!

  2. Thanks for this review! I have added the book to my request list at my library. In the process, I found a similar book: “Introvert Power: Why your inner life is your hidden strength” by Laurie Helgoe. One reviewer said that “The Introvert Advantage” is her bible and “Introvert Power” is “very, very good, with many ways to play up being an introvert to your advantage.”

  3. @ifbyyes: Ahh, yeah, that would explain a few things! You know, I wonder about that test you linked to. With people who get “balanced” as top result … well … if it’s all down to neurotransmitters and pathways and things, can you really be both at the same time? Isn’t it “EITHER it works on sympathetic/chemical1 (dopamine? I forget) OR parasympathetic/chemical2 (ace-whatever)”?

    @Nan: Hope you find it useful and thanks for the tip! ๐Ÿ™‚ *looks it up* Ohh, yeah, that’s one of the books I was looking at the other day and am going to get at some point! I was also looking at “The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Survive and Thrive When the World Overwhelms You” by Elaine N. Aron.

  4. Well, technically everyone uses both path ways at one point or another, and I guess the difference is simply which one you tend to use as your default. Maybe ambiverts (and I do know a couple of people who are neither flesh nor fowl nor good red herring) switch back and forth?

    I find it interesting that the antidepressant that worked for me, Wellbutrin, acts on dopamine receptors, unlike most antidepressants which act on serotonin. Maybe I was suffering from excessive introversion?

  5. Ah yes, silly of me. *smacks forehead* You’re absolutely right, of course. Thinkin’ the ol’ synapses o’ mine misfired a bit back there. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Interesting point about the antidepressant. Worth keeping in mind, if it ever comes to that.

  6. This book helped me understand why I have deeper thoughts when I’m by myself than in a group setting. People seem to not know who I am in the “real-world,” but online, I have found a place to show my true self. This is apparently because introverts are more comfortable with writing than speaking in public.

  7. Indeed. Online, I talk a whole lot, in real life … I’m the quiet one. Once, someone even exclaimed “oh! She spoke!” when I finally opened my mouth. Not in a horrible way, just surprised and happy to hear I could talk. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Good thing we have the internet, or what else would we do with our time? Go to nightclubs? Erm … yeah, right …

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