Quiet: The Power Of Introverts In A World That Can't Stop Talking

Hardcover | January 24, 2012

bySusan Cain

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At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over brainstorming in teams. Although they are often labeled "quiet," it is to introverts that we owe many of the great contributions to society--from van Gogh’s sunflowers to the invention of the personal computer.

Passionately argued, impressively researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet shows how dramatically we undervalue introverts, and how much we lose in doing so. Taking the reader on a journey from Dale Carnegie’s birthplace to Harvard Business School, from a Tony Robbins seminar to an evangelical megachurch, Susan Cain charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal in the twentieth century and explores its far-reaching effects. She talks to Asian-American students who feel alienated from the brash, backslapping atmosphere of American schools. She questions the dominant values of American business culture, where forced collaboration can stand in the way of innovation, and where the leadership potential of introverts is often overlooked. And she draws on cutting-edge research in psychology and neuroscience to reveal the surprising differences between extroverts and introverts.

Perhaps most inspiring, she introduces us to successful introverts--from a witty, high-octane public speaker who recharges in solitude after his talks, to a record-breaking salesman who quietly taps into the power of questions. Finally, she offers invaluable advice on everything from how to better negotiate differences in introvert-extrovert relationships to how to empower an introverted child to when it makes sense to be a "pretend extrovert."

This extraordinary book has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how introverts see themselves.

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From the Publisher

At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over brainstorming in teams. Although they are often labeled "quiet," it is to introverts that we owe many of the great cont...

SUSAN CAIN is the co-founder of Quiet Revolution and the author of the bestsellers Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts, and Quiet: The Power of Introverts in A World That Can’t Stop Talking, which has been translated into 40 languages, has been on the New York Times bestseller list for over four years, and was named the #1 ...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:352 pages, 9.6 × 6.4 × 1 inPublished:January 24, 2012Publisher:Crown/ArchetypeLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0307352145

ISBN - 13:9780307352149

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Where was this info when I was a "shy" teenager This book was so affirming in many ways. I liked how she recognizes introvert leadership in particular. Thank you for this book Susan Cain. Maybe the current "shy" kids can now be just reserved, quiet, sensitive, whatever, instead of having a shaming label of shy placed on them.
Date published: 2015-09-15
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Quite too quiet on some issues, not quiet enough on others. An interesting book with solid research which, despite the author's repeated claims to the contrary, glorifies introversion at the expense of extroversion. I am (I think) an introvert myself and I must admit I enjoyed Cain bloviating my ego. But it seems to me that, despite her claim to scientific objectivity, there is a paucity of evidence in her project regarding early childhood experiences, upbringing, and abuse. These, according to scholars such as Alice Miller, Murray A. Strauss, or Philip Graven may account for much of our nurture-based ills and propensities and, by extension, perhaps our introversion. Yes, "Quiet" has a lot to say about genetics and cultural influences (which are by no means unimportant), but it remains suspiciously quiet on operant conditioning. Could it be that introverts – “raised by hand” to use Dickens’ phrase – are actually wannabe extroverts or extroverts in disguise (disguised even to themselves)? Another minor but vitiating issue (apart from plethora of trite pop culture examples) is Cain’s critique of extrovert’s hijacking of Jesus while using that same Jesus as an exponent of introversion; or her adducing that the business prowess of “quiet” is on par (if not greater) to the charismatic extroverted CEO’s. (I think that the author would agree with me when I ask: why does my introversion has to “proven” to be constructive, productive, or creative at all before it can be accepted???) In sum, until more comprehensive research is done I think that the definite work on the subject remains to be seen.
Date published: 2015-08-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Shhhh This book is must read for managers,parents, and anyone seeking to understand themselves or others .
Date published: 2015-02-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Review This book taught me very much about myself and others i interact with. Very enlightening and encouraging.
Date published: 2014-12-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Recommended to anyone Great book, helped me learn a lot about myself. Didn't realize how much of an introvert I really am or that I was fighting some of personality traits in order to accommodate our extroverted personality based society.
Date published: 2014-11-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Quite informative I decided to read this book given that I live with two introverts (my partner and my son) and that I was quite introverted as a child. I liked the book, especially the parts about how an introvert’s brain is wired differently. Very interesting! I wished there were more examples of how to approach specific situations with an introvert, and less comparisons between introverts and extroverts. However, the section about choosing a school for an introvert was good (and timely for me).
Date published: 2014-11-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Quiet An empowering book for silent ones like me. Thank you for the insights... time to change the world
Date published: 2014-10-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Greatly appreciated. In a society where extroverts truly are favored this little gem allowed me to understand and except my introverted personality. The author, Susan Cain, allowed me to realize that I am not alone when often being disregarded, unappreciated and misinterpreted just because I am not a bubbly and open personality. I can now truly embrace who I am, and not be burdened with the ever-present idea of acceptance and conformism. Thank you!
Date published: 2014-10-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A book for the introvert I always knew I was an introvert, but never really read much into it. I thought why not, give this book a try. As soon as I started reading this, it felt like it was describing myself. Every chapter gave me some relief. It made me feel like it's okay to be who I am, a quiet introvert.
Date published: 2014-09-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A must read for introverts Excellent book! Second section gets really slow, but it picks up again. Amazing read!
Date published: 2014-06-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My Reality A book that explains me and my introversion. Detailed and straight to the point. Susan hit the nail on the head. For those who appreciate the power of silence & those who just want to understand.
Date published: 2014-04-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Empowering This book was empowering! Shy is a negative word... I don't have to wear that any more!
Date published: 2014-04-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An important book Finally a book that shares the values and importance of introverts. For those who have been told to get out of their shells and basically stop being who they really are (an introvert), this book introduces the history of our extrovert-valuing society and shares a unique perspective on introverts and their quiet power.
Date published: 2014-03-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Really enjoyed it For me this book was quite enlightening. I stumble apon this book. Looking for social disorders I may have because I feel so different from most of my friends and family. Discovering the word introvert change my look on my personality. The only problem I had was that I felt she tried to hard to justify being a introvert and didn't think it was needed.
Date published: 2014-02-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from great read and knowledge This book was a great help for me as I am an introvert and wanted to know why I do the things I do and to help people see me for me. This book taught me that it is alright to just be myself and not worry about what other people think. I have to learn how to let things go and not so caught up in being like everyone else and just be me. This book shows that introverts are a part of this world and that we all have to learn to work together and not judge each other on our looks or the way that we work.
Date published: 2014-01-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Really enjoyed it This book provides excellent insight into the introvert personality. A great read for introverts and extroverts alike, especially in terms of how the introverted person interacts and excels in the areas of business, education, and relationships. Cain's observations are well supported by both personal interviews and documented studies. Highly recommended.
Date published: 2014-01-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Quiet Speaks Loud and Clear A must read for everyone. It has made me rethink what we expect from our "Quiet" students.
Date published: 2014-01-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Quiet Speaks Loud and Clear I greatly enjoyed Susan Cain's writing. She provides a lot of excellent points and facts about being introverted and extroverted. As an introvert, I agree with the fact that everyone's constantly pushed to have an extroverted exterior or to hide the fact that you're in introvert. She goes into great detail about this while continuing to express just how important and valuable introverts are. Awesome book!
Date published: 2014-01-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Quiet Speaks Loud and Clear An extremely interesting and validating read for anyone who tends to be introverted. Susan explains how and why the western culture, in particular, has grown to value extroverts, the strengths and weaknesses behind being extroverted and introverted, and the studies done on these two different ways of being. At times parts of the book are a little drawn out, but other then that, it's a brilliant read.
Date published: 2014-01-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Just finished Quiet by Susan Cain @susancain rally enjoyed your book. Congrats.
Date published: 2013-11-25
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Interesting read 3.5 stars Western society tends to value extroverts more than introverts, extremely social people more than quiet people. Susan Cain, an introvert herself, has collected and presented various studies looking at introversion and extroversion, and relayed various personal stories. I'm not sure it gave me any amazing insights, or anything, but it was definitely interesting. It actually surprises me that there are “only” between 1/3 and ½ of people who are introverts. I actually thought that number would be higher. I'm sure I know more introverts than extroverts, but I suppose that's because I am an introvert, and I probably gravitate more towards other introverts. Anyway, I did like the book.
Date published: 2013-10-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Life-Changing Read After seeing Quiet: The Power of Introverts by Susan Cain at a local bookstore, my dad bought it for me. Having maxed out on the introvert score on the Myers Brigg personality test (a test that assesses your personality type) he thought it would be good for me to understand what being an introvert really means so that I could understand myself a bit more. I went from thinking being an introvert meant you would go nowhere in life to realizing that maybe it is a good thing after all. Susan Cain admits that she is an introvert, which really helps prove her point, and adds a personal touch to everything she says. For example, she is a powerful individual, who speaks regularly and has presented a must-see TED Talk (on introverts). With all of this in mind, it is hard to believe that she is an introvert as she is doing some of the things it is said introverts are unable to do. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Even if it is a slow read, packed with facts and scientific studies, it is still a must-read. Even if you are like me, and do not usually enjoy books based on studies, this will surely change your opinion. This book can be life changing if you are an introvert or have a close relationship with one. It is not only introverts who will find pleasure and benefit in reading it. Extroverts can learn about their introvert friends, family members, and co-workers, helping make their relationships stronger. This book is one that has had a great impact on my life. It changed how I thought about myself and others. It also allowed me to see some of the things I used to see as imperfections in a new light. After reading this book, I felt like a different person, filled with newfound confidence in myself. I recommend this book to anyone and everyone, especially the introverts in the crowd. I hope that, like it was for me, reading this book will be one of those important defining moments in your life.
Date published: 2013-10-13
Rated out of 5 by from A beautifully written book that offered insight with humour. I learned quite a bit about myself through Ms. Cain's eyes. I highly recommend this book for introverts, those who manage introverts and those who might simply enjoy a view on our NA society that rarely makes the news :-)
Date published: 2013-07-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A good read for introverts I found this book to be well researched on the subject of introversion. Some of the themes were repetitive but on the whole I was impressed with the way Ms Cain tackled this subject. It would have been nice to see a less negative slant towards extroversion though. I rate it 8 out of 10.
Date published: 2013-07-08
Rated out of 5 by from I loved it, it was very insightful and it described me very well.
Date published: 2013-07-01
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Chef What an amazing book, thoroughly enjoyed and very informative specially when I consider myself introvert and one of my kid as well.
Date published: 2013-06-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent and Timely At last, a cogent discussion of introversion as an effective and important way of being rather than a handicap. This should be required reading across the board. 100% recommended buy!
Date published: 2013-05-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A book about me For all of you extroverts that sometimes wonder why I do the things I do - read this book and all will be explained. But then, if you're an extrovert, you'd probably rather be socializing than reading.
Date published: 2013-05-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Masterpice. Quiet is a work of art - a wonderfully written and researched book , peering into the science and psychology of personality. This is a seminal work which will be cherished for years to come. Alertnate title : The Art of Quiet :-)
Date published: 2013-04-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very insightful A well-written and well-researched book about the one-third to one-half of the population who are introverts. Good advice for introverts trying to make their way in the world and for the parents, teachers, and managers trying to help them reach their potential. Shows the fallacies behind many of the business practices and assumptions managers make about their employees. Anyone running an organization should read this book.
Date published: 2013-03-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very well researched and written. I loved it! I am an introvert, which would surprise many people who know me. I loved this book. It revealed a lot about myself and people I know. Tom too tall Cunningham www.tom2tall.com
Date published: 2013-01-03
Rated out of 5 by from A compelling read. For me it was a page turner. It was well researched and the author, Susan Cairns is an excellent story teller. The research findings were presented in a way that pulled you in and kept your interest. The book Quiet, The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking provides perspectives and the stories of both the extrovert and the introvert - What each has to offer. While the contributions of the extrovert are recognized, those of the introvert are often overlooked. Quiet acknowledges the attention garnered by extrovert in the extrovert promoting society in which we live and most importantly Quiet validates the introvert.
Date published: 2012-10-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A balm for the introverted spirit. Have you ever wondered at the sociability of some people which allows them to engage endlessly in conversation with others? Have you ever longed for the end of the day when you could return home and enjoy the solitude of your private environment? Are you the type of person who would decline a spontaneous social evening out in favour of a show or good book curled up in your favourite chair? Chances are you're an introvert, and you draw your energy from being alone. While extraverts gain energy from frequent interaction with other people, introverts do the opposite, naturally preferring to be by themselves, thinking through their thoughts alone in their head, and processing things internally. They don't speak as often as extraverts, who process their thoughts spontaneously, preferring to talk their way out loud through an issue until they reach a satisfactory conclusion. They prefer interaction with others while they do this, and use others as a sounding board for new thoughts and ideas. Shared brainstorming sessions aren't preferred by the introvert who prefers to process thoughts in silence, doing all their thinking in their heads, and coming out with their conclusion at the end of the thought process, fully formed and considered. Introverts generally think before they speak, and they're fairly good listeners. The challenge for introverts is that society has geared itself and its social, educational and work processes around the extraverted person. Children no longer sit in rows in school classrooms, encouraged to do their thinking by themselves inside their minds. They are clustered into pods of 4 or 6, undertake group work at least as often as working alone, processing school work through the group dynamic and getting a group mark instead of marks that reflect individual effort. Great for the extravert, likely an uncomfortable and out-of-preference activity for the introvert. Children grow up from school and enter the work of work where the process of group work continues to take precedence over individual quiet work. Work is done by committee, with people gathered around tables and encouraged to speak their thoughts out loud. Back at the office, people are more likely to work in cubicles where it's hard to have individual privacy of thought or action: people engage in group work, are evaluated for their facility to work well on teams. The team takes credit for the solution, even when it's the introvert's mind processing away quietly in an environment of distractions that may have ultimately given the answer that gets adoped by the group. In her recent book, "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking," author Susan Cain charts the rise of the Extravert Ideal in the twentieth century, from the story of Dale Carnegie and the push toward public speaking, to the Harvard Business School ideal, where introverts are subverted into an extravert curriculum, social and cultural program that measures success by outward expression and aggression. And while there are many benefits to be obtained from operating in an extraverted world (mostly by extraverts), a world without introverts would be deprived of the theory of gravity, the theory of relativity, Chopin's nocturnes, Proust's In Search of Lost Time, Peter Pan, George Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm, Charlie Brown, The Cat in the Hat, Google, Schindler's List, E.T., and Saving Private Ryan, and the magical world of Harry Potter. Quoting science journalist Winifred Gallagher, Cain pithily observes "Neither E-mc2 nor Paradise Lost was dashed off by a party animal." Cain's book is a salve to the injuries sustained over time by the introvert in twentieth-century society, but she offers up more than sympathy. Through delightful and insightful introduction to some of the century's most celebrated introverts (Rosa Parks, for one), and pairing them with some of the century's most celebrated extraverts (Martin Luther King Jr), she reveals interesting partnerships that can arise when introverts and extraverts come together. She also offers sage advice to introverts on when and how much to exhibit extravert behaviour, how to negotiate one's way in a world that celebrates the extravert ideal, and how to tap into the natural tendencies of introversion that can lead to great powers of observation, listening, and creative thought. Quiet is an engaging book, a good read for the introvert who likes to read and stop and read again, stop and think about what's just been read, pulling in observations, related thoughts, and speculation, listening quietly for wisps of ideas to wiggle forth. While useful for persons of all type, if only to broaden one's understanding of the amazing differences between people, it is written especially for the introvert, an indulgence, like taking a tall glass of water after a long, dry run.
Date published: 2012-08-20
Rated out of 5 by from Have you ever wondered at the sociability of some people which allows them to engage endlessly in conversation with others? Have you ever longed for the end of the day when you could return home and enjoy the solitude of your private environment? Are you the type of person who would decline a spontaneous social evening out in favour of a show or good book curled up in your favourite chair? Chances are you're an introvert, and you draw your energy from being alone. While extraverts gain energy from frequent interaction with other people, introverts do the opposite, naturally preferring to be by themselves, thinking through their thoughts alone in their head, and processing things internally. They don't speak as often as extraverts, who process their thoughts spontaneously, preferring to talk their way out loud through an issue until they reach a satisfactory conclusion. They prefer interaction with others while they do this, and use others as a sounding board for new thoughts and ideas. Shared brainstorming sessions aren't preferred by the introvert who prefers to process thoughts in silence, doing all their thinking in their heads, and coming out with their conclusion at the end of the thought process, fully formed and considered. Introverts generally think before they speak, and they're fairly good listeners. The challenge for introverts is that society has geared itself and its social, educational and work processes around the extraverted person. Children no longer sit in rows in school classrooms, encouraged to do their thinking by themselves inside their minds. They are clustered into pods of 4 or 6, undertake group work at least as often as working alone, processing school work through the group dynamic and getting a group mark instead of marks that reflect individual effort. Great for the extravert, likely an uncomfortable and out-of-preference activity for the introvert. Children grow up from school and enter the work of work where the process of group work continues to take precedence over individual quiet work. Work is done by committee, with people gathered around tables and encouraged to speak their thoughts out loud. Back at the office, people are more likely to work in cubicles where it's hard to have individual privacy of thought or action: people engage in group work, are evaluated for their facility to work well on teams. The team takes credit for the solution, even when it's the introvert's mind processing away quietly in an environment of distractions that may have ultimately given the answer that gets adoped by the group. In her recent book, "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking," author Susan Cain charts the rise of the Extravert Ideal in the twentieth century, from the story of Dale Carnegie and the push toward public speaking, to the Harvard Business School ideal, where introverts are subverted into an extravert curriculum, social and cultural program that measures success by outward expression and aggression. And while there are many benefits to be obtained from operating in an extraverted world (mostly by extraverts), a world without introverts would be deprived of the theory of gravity, the theory of relativity, Chopin's nocturnes, Proust's In Search of Lost Time, Peter Pan, George Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm, Charlie Brown, The Cat in the Hat, Google, Schindler's List, E.T., and Saving Private Ryan, and the magical world of Harry Potter. Quoting science journalist Winifred Gallagher, Cain pithily observes "Neither E-mc2 nor Paradise Lost was dashed off by a party animal." Cain's book is a salve to the injuries sustained over time by the introvert in twentieth-century society, but she offers up more than sympathy. Through delightful and insightful introduction to some of the century's most celebrated introverts (Rosa Parks, for one), and pairing them with some of the century's most celebrated extraverts (Martin Luther King Jr), she reveals interesting partnerships that can arise when introverts and extraverts come together. She also offers sage advice to introverts on when and how much to exhibit extravert behaviour, how to negotiate one's way in a world that celebrates the extravert ideal, and how to tap into the natural tendencies of introversion that can lead to great powers of observation, listening, and creative thought. Quiet is an engaging book, a good read for the introvert who likes to read and stop and read again, stop and think about what's just been read, pulling in observations, related thoughts, and speculation, listening quietly for wisps of ideas to wiggle forth. While useful for persons of all type, if only to broaden one's understanding of the amazing differences between people, it is written especially for the introvert, an indulgence, like taking a tall glass of water after a long, dry run.
Date published: 2012-08-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Teachers, I implore you: READ THIS BOOK! If you have ever felt guilty for turning down an invitation to a raving party, a concert ticket, or any other social event in favour of a good book, a quiet dinner with your partner, or a walk in the park, you need to read this book. I've always known that I fall slightly to the quieter side of the introvert/extrovert line. And I'm 100% okay with that. But this amazing book explained how other aspects of my personality -- not liking violent movies, hating high school, and thoroughly enjoying the far more sociable man that I'm with -- are all related to my introversion. If you are a teacher or business owner, I implore you to read this book and incorporate what you learn into your teaching/business strategies. You will find your students and employees producing better work than you have ever seen (and liking you more, too!)
Date published: 2012-07-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Quiet “Our culture made a virtue of living only as extroverts. We discouraged the inner journey, the quest for a center. So we lost our center and have to find it again.” —Anaïs Nin Susan Cain’s book will come as a great relief to introverts. They will find themselves saying out loud, “Yes! Yes!” They will be filled with a sense of vindication: finally someone understands them, and, more importantly, someone values them. They will find an answer to a question they might have asked themselves: “Is there something wrong with me?“ Every introvert should read Quiet to gain greater understanding of themselves and what they have to offer to society. Every extrovert should read Quiet to gain greater understanding of the powerfully quiet people in their lives, and how a lack of understanding can cause deep pain. “. . . introverts relate to other people. Of course they do. They just do it in their own way.” There is no clear definition of introversion or extroversion, and most people fall at different points on the spectrum of one extreme to the other, but recent science points to “fixed traits” and “free traits” and “temperament” versus “personality.” We all have free will and can adapt our outward behaviours, but we all have inborn, biological behaviours and emotions. Our culture and life experiences affect us, but we have an underlying temperament that forms the foundation for our approach to life. Science also says that introverts and extroverts operate differently. Introverts are more sensitive to stimuli and new situations. They begin tasks slowly but then work deliberately with fixed concentration. They persevere with difficult tasks through to completion. Extroverts soak up new stimuli, and dive into tasks enthusiastically. They are easily distracted and tend to give up on difficult tasks more quickly than their introvert counterparts. “It’s not that I’m so smart,” said Einstein, who was a consummate introvert. “It’s that I stay with a problem longer.” As Cain points out, in our North American culture, quiet perseverance isn’t sexy. People who don’t talk are seen as failing in some way. We like the engaging enthusiasm of the extroverts, so it is easy for introverts to feel underappreciated or even shunned. Cain hopes that her book will encourage introverts to honour their true nature. After all, introverts brought us such fun and important things as Charlie Brown, the theory of relativity, Google, Harry Potter and E.T. (That’s right, Spielberg is an introvert.) In order for introverts to function well in our extrovert-loving society, they must spend a lot of time pretending. Introverts learn from an early age that their inborn temperament doesn’t click with societal expectations. They learn how to act. They learn how to pretend to speak comfortably in public, and then they hide in the bathroom on breaks. They develop an effective sales pitch that puts them at the top of their sales team, and then they curl up by themselves and read all weekend. To get by introverts spend a lot of time pretending to be something they are not—but only so far. The “rubber band theory” proposes that people are elastic and can stretch, but only so much. Then they need a “restorative niche.” It seems unfair to introverts that they must spend so much time being something they are not when the extroverts go about life with carefree ease. Shouldn’t they have to learn to turn it down a notch sometimes? Cain believes this to be true. Our society needs a better balance of both and a better understanding of both. Companies gain from hiring employees with both the outgoing enthusiasm of extroverts and the thoughtful perseverance of introverts. Our financial system benefits from having a balance of risk-takers to ensure growth and careful monitors to ensure stability. Spouses learn how to relate to each other. Parents accept children that may think and behave in ways they don’t understand. “Whoever you are, bear in mind that appearance is not reality. Some people act like extroverts but the effort costs them in energy, authenticity and even physical health. Others seem aloof or self-contained, but their inner landscapes are rich and full of drama. So the next time you see a person with a composed face and a soft voice, remember that inside her mind she might be solving an equation, composing a sonnet, designing a hat. She might, that is, be deploying the powers of quiet.”
Date published: 2012-07-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Brief Summary and Review *A full executive-style summary of this book is now available at newbooksinbrief dot wordpress dot com. Being the quieter, more reserved type, introverts are not as inclined as others to broadcast just who they are and what makes them tick, much less honk their own horns. However, given that Western culture has increasingly pushed introverts aside, and is intent on celebrating their opposite, it is high time that introverts stepped out of character, made themselves heard, and proclaimed to the world that they have much to offer indeed. This is the campaign that Susan Cain launches in her new book, `Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking'. Cain begins her account by way of establishing that Western culture has increasingly adopted an `Extrovert Ideal,' in which louder, bolder, more ebullient and risk-friendly individuals are valued over and above the quieter, more reserved, reflective and heed-friendly ones. While Western culture has a long history of favoring the extrovert, Cain argues that this bias has steepened since the industrial revolution, and particularly in the past century as the West has become ever-more urbanized and commercial. Over the course of this time-frame, Cain argues, a Culture of Personality, perhaps best represented by the motivational guru Tony Robins, has come to replace a Culture of Character, best represented by such figures as Abraham Lincoln. Cain's intention here is not to put-down extroverts, or to say that they are inferior to introverts. Rather, her argument is that the latter have an important role to play in many areas of society that is now often overlooked. For one, the introvert's greater willingness to listen to others and their input makes them better leaders than is generally recognized. Second, their heed-friendly temperaments serves to better protect them (and those around them) against dangerous situations, and makes them particularly valuable in such professions as financial investing, where undue risk is not only known to get individuals in trouble, but entire nations, and even the entire international community. Third, the fact that introverts tend to have a sharpened moral sense makes them well-suited to fill the role of the social conscience of society, which is often valuable in protecting the downtrodden, and also in saving societies from their own recklessness. Finally, the added thoughtfulness and persistence of introverts, and their heightened capacity to work independently, often gives them an edge in creative enterprises such as art and technological innovation, as well as in more intellectual industries such as science and engineering. Indeed, Cain insists that there is plenty of evidence to indicate that working independently is an important part of having and developing the best ideas, not only for introverts but for everyone. This helps explain why the most creative people tend to be introverted, and also serves as an argument in favor of tempering the emphasis on groupthink and collaborative work that is currently running rampant through our schools and businesses. While introverts often have more to offer than many recognize, it is also the case that their sensitive nature tends to make them more fragile than others; as such, they are particularly susceptible to having their talents stifled and even snuffed out before they have had the time to develop. For this reason, Cain argues, it is especially important for parents and educators to know the best approaches when it comes to both raising and educating the quieter type, and the author makes a concerted effort to address these issues here. In particular, Cain emphasizes just how vital it is to encourage and nurture the introvert's peculiar talents, and to be patient in dealing with their inwardness. Having said this, Cain does not advocate giving in to this inwardness entirely, as she stresses the importance of challenging the introvert to come out of their shell as much as they are able, in order that they may learn to make their voices heard, and to get along in a more extrovert-friendly world. In connection with this, Cain argues that it is not only possible, but often healthy and beneficial for introverts to stretch themselves to be more extroverted on occasion--especially when it is in the name of a goal that they value, and as long as it is not overdone. Altogether, the work is well researched and very insightful, and there is much to be learned here about the quieter among us for the extroverted and introverted alike--and also much to help the latter feel more comfortable in their own skin (thankfully without being an exercise in self-congratulation for them). A comprehensive summary of the book, as well as many of the juicier details and anecdotes to be found therein, is available at newbooksinbrief dot wordpress dot com; the information in the article will also be available in a condensed version in the form of a podcast soon.
Date published: 2012-06-25

Extra Content

Read from the Book

Today we make room for a remarkably narrow range of personality styles. We’re told that to be great is to be bold, to be happy is to be sociable. We see ourselves as a nation of extroverts—which means that we’ve lost sight of who we really are. Depending on which study you consult, one third to one half of Americans are introverts—in other words, one out of every two or three people you know. (Given that the United States is among the most extroverted of nations, the number must be at least as high in other parts of the world.) If you’re not an introvert yourself, you are surely raising, managing, married to, or coupled with one.If these statistics surprise you, that’s probably because so many people pretend to be extroverts. Closet introverts pass undetected on playgrounds, in high school locker rooms, and in the corridors of corporate America. Some fool even themselves, until some life event—a layoff, an empty nest, an inheritance that frees them to spend time as they like— jolts them into taking stock of their true natures. You have only to raise the subject of this book with your friends and acquaintances to find that the most unlikely people consider themselves introverts. It makes sense that so many introverts hide even from themselves. We live with a value system that I call the Extrovert Ideal—the omnipresent belief that the ideal self is gregarious, alpha, and comfortable in the spotlight. The archetypal extrovert prefers action to contemplation, risk- taking to heed-taking, certainty to doubt. He favors quick decisions, even at the risk of being wrong. She works well in teams and socializes in groups. We like to think that we value individuality, but all too often we admire one type of individual—the kind who’s comfortable “putting himself out there.” Sure, we allow technologically gifted loners who launch companies in garages to have any personality they please, but they are the exceptions, not the rule, and our tolerance extends mainly to those who get fabulously wealthy or hold the promise of doing so. Introversion—along with its cousins sensitivity, seriousness, and shyness—is now a second- class personality trait, somewhere between a disappointment and a pathology. Introverts living under the Extrovert Ideal are like women in a man’s world, discounted because of a trait that goes to the core of who they are. Extroversion is an enormously appealing personality style, but we’ve turned it into an oppressive standard to which most of us feel we must conform. The Extrovert Ideal has been documented in many studies, though this research has never been grouped under a single name. Talkative people, for example, are rated as smarter, better- looking, more interesting, and more desirable as friends. Velocity of speech counts as well as volume: we rank fast talkers as more competent and likable than slow ones. The same dynamics apply in groups, where research shows that the voluble are considered smarter than the reticent—even though there’s zero correlation between the gift of gab and good ideas. Even the word introvert is stigmatized—one informal study, by psychologist Laurie Helgoe, found that introverts described their own physical appearance in vivid language ( “green- blue eyes,” “exotic,” “high cheekbones”), but when asked to describe generic introverts they drew a bland and distasteful picture (“ungainly,” “neutral colors,” “skin problems”).But we make a grave mistake to embrace the Extrovert Ideal so unthinkingly. Some of our greatest ideas, art, and inventions—from the theory of evolution to van Gogh’s sunflowers to the personal computer— came from quiet and cerebral people who knew how to tune in to their inner worlds and the treasures to be found there. Copyright © 2012 by Susan Cain. From the book QUIET: The Power Of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain, published by Crown, a division of Random House, Inc.  Reprinted with permission.

Editorial Reviews

People Top 10 Book of 2012O, The Oprah Magazine 10 Favorite Books of 2012Christian Science Monitor Best Books of 20122012 Goodreads Choice Award, Best NonfictionFast Company #1 Business Book of 2012Inc Magazine Best Books for Entrepreneurs in 2012Library Journal Best Books of 2012Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2012"An important book that should embolden anyone who's ever been told, 'Speak up!'"--People"Cain offers a wealth of useful advice for teachers and parents of introverts…Quiet should interest anyone who cares about how people think, work, and get along, or wonders why the guy in the next cubicle acts that way. It should be required reading for introverts (or their parents) who could use a boost to their self-esteem."--Fortune.com"Rich, intelligent...enlightening."--Wall Street Journal"An intriguing and potentially life-altering examination of the human psyche that is sure to benefit both introverts and extroverts alike."--Kirkus, Starred Review"Cain gives excellent portraits of a number of introverts and shatters misconceptions.  Cain consistently holds the reader’s interest by presenting individual profiles, looking at places dominated by extroverts (Harvard Business School) and introverts (a West Coast retreat center), and reporting on the latest studies. Her diligence, research, and passion for this important topic has richly paid off."--Publishers Weekly"This book is a pleasure to read and will make introverts and extroverts alike think twice about the best ways to be themselves and interact with differing personality types."--Library Journal"An intelligent and often surprising look at what makes us who we are."--Booklist"In this well-written, unusually thoughtful book, Cain encourages solitude seekers to see themselves anew: not as wallflowers but as powerful forces to be reckoned with."--Whole Living"Those who value a quiet, reflective life will feel a burden lifting from their shoulders as they read Susan Cain's eloquent and well documented paean to introversion--and will no longer feel guilty or inferior for having made the better choice!"--MIHALY CSIKSZENTMIHALYI, author of Flow and Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Management, Claremont Graduate University "Superbly researched, deeply insightful, and a fascinating read, Quiet is an indispensable resource for anyone who wants to understand the gifts of the introverted half of the population."--GRETCHEN RUBIN, author of The Happiness Project"Quiet is a book of liberation from old ideas about the value of introverts. Cain’s intelligence, respect for research, and vibrant prose put Quiet in an elite class with the best books from Malcolm Gladwell, Daniel Pink, and other masters of psychological non-fiction."--TERESA AMABILE, Professor, Harvard Business School, and coauthor, The Progress Principle"As an introvert often called upon to behave like an extrovert, I found the information in this book revealing and helpful. Drawing on neuroscientific research and many case reports, Susan Cain explains the advantages and potentials of introversion and of being quiet in a noisy world."--ANDREW WEIL, author of Healthy Aging and Spontaneous Happiness "Susan Cain has done a superb job of sifting through decades of complex research on introversion, extroversion, and sensitivity--this book will be a boon for the many highly sensitive people who are also introverts."--ELAINE ARON, author of The Highly Sensitive Person"Quiet legitimizes and even celebrates the ‘niche’ that represents half the people in the world."--GUY KAWASAKI, author of Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions "Susan Cain is the definer of a new and valuable paradigm. In this moving and original argument, she makes the case that we are losing immense reserves of talent and vision because of our culture's overvaluation of extroversion. A startling, important, and readable page-turner that will make quiet people see themselves in a whole new light." --NAOMI WOLF, author of The Beauty Myth "Superb…A compelling reflection on how the Extrovert Ideal shapes our lives and why this is deeply unsettling. Based on meticulous research, it will open up a new and different conversation on how the personal is political and how we need to empower the legions of people who are disposed to be quiet, reflective, and sensitive."--BRIAN R. LITTLE, PH.D., Distinguished Scholar, Department of Social and Developmental Psychology, Cambridge University   "Quiet elevates the conversation about introverts in our outwardly-oriented society to new heights. I think that many introverts will discover that, even though they didn't know it, they have been waiting for this book all their lives."--ADAM S. MCHUGH, author of Introverts in the Church "Gentle is powerful... Solitude is socially productive... These important counter-intuitive ideas are among the many reasons to take Quiet to a quiet corner and absorb its brilliant, thought-provoking message." --ROSABETH MOSS KANTER, Harvard Business School professor, author of Confidence and SuperCorp "Memo to all you glad-handing, back-slapping, brainstorming masters of the universe out there: Stop networking and talking for a minute and read this book. In Quiet, Susan Cain does an eloquent and powerful job of extolling the virtues of the listeners and the thinkers--the reflective introverts of the world who appreciate that hard problems demand careful thought and who understand that it's a good idea to know what you want to say before you open your mouth."--BARRY SCHWARTZ, author of Practical Wisdom and The Paradox of Choice“A smart, lively book about the value of silence and solitude that makes you want to shout from the rooftops. Quiet is an engaging and insightful look into the hearts and minds of those who change the world instead of tweeting about it.”--DANIEL GILBERT, professor of psychology, Harvard University, author of Stumbling on Happiness