86 of 88 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How and why our location on "the introvert-extrovert spectrum" influences most (if not all) of our decisions and opinions
Throughout most of her book, Susan Cain takes a balanced approach to the immensely difficult task of examining the advantages and disadvantages of being primarily an introvert as well as those of being primarily an extrovert. I use the term 'primarily' in the context of culture as well as one's temperament, personality, preferences, tendencies, and (yes) volition. 'If...
Published 22 months ago by Robert Morris
29 of 36 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts...
The introverts of Susan Cain's new book, 'Quiet,' don't experience their inwardness positively; rather, they see it as "somewhere between a disappointment and a pathology." Many even fake extroversion through ebullience, dominance, risk-taking and thoughtlessness with disastrous results. Thus, in a book that combines reporting and social science research, Cain argues...
Published 20 months ago by Reader Writer Runner
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86 of 88 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How and why our location on "the introvert-extrovert spectrum" influences most (if not all) of our decisions and opinions,
This review is from: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking (Hardcover)Throughout most of her book, Susan Cain takes a balanced approach to the immensely difficult task of examining the advantages and disadvantages of being primarily an introvert as well as those of being primarily an extrovert. I use the term 'primarily' in the context of culture as well as one's temperament, personality, preferences, tendencies, and (yes) volition. 'If given a choice'' is a helpful phrase. Some people dread being the center of attention whereas the behavior of others indicates a pathological need for it. Not all introverts are shy and reluctant, however, and not all extroverts are bombastic and impulsive. Moreover, expediency can also come into play. As Walt Whitman affirms in 'Song of Myself,' each person is 'large''and contains 'multitudes.'
When writing her book, Cain was guided and informed by research in social science (e.g. Carl Jung, Jerome Kagan, Elaine Aron, C.A. Valentine, David Winter) supplemented by what she had learned from her own observations. She examines the inadequacies of several concepts such as charismatic leadership, the New Groupthink, the "Extrovert Ideal" (i.e. "the omnipresent belief that the ideal self is gregarious, alpha, and comfortable in the spotlight"), being or at least seeming "cool," collaborative innovation, and being a more "assertive" student in the classroom. Historians' accounts and media coverage must share at least some of the blame for widespread but remarkably durable misconceptions about eminent persons such as Warren Buffett, Dale Carnegie, Albert Einstein, Mohandas Gandhi, Rosa Parks, Steven Spielberg, and Steve Wozniak. However great their impact on others may be, all are (or were) essentially introverted. What else do they share in common? They are renowned for being thoughtful, indeed reflective, tending to take more time than others do to make sound decisions and to reach correct conclusions.
Ironically, Carnegie is among the pioneers of self-help programs that emphasize "winning friends and influencing people," the title of a book first published in 1936 that continues to be a bestseller. According to Cain, Carnagey (who later changed his name "likely to evoke Andrew Carnegie, the great industrialist") was a good-natured but insecure high school student. He was skinny, unathletic, and fretful. His subsequent career from farmboy to salesman to public- speaking icon demonstrates a shift in America "from what influential cultural historian Warren Susman called a Culture of Character to a Culture of Personality - and opened up a Pandora's Box of personal anxieties from which we would never quite recover."
By the end of the book, Cain seems to include in the introvert category almost anyone who is "reflective, cerebral, bookish, unassuming, sensitive, thoughtful, serious, contemplative, subtle, introspective, inner-directed, gentle, calm, modest, solitude-seeking, shy, risk-averse, thin-skinned." Surely many (most?) of those who are extroverts also demonstrate one (if not several) of these attributes, at least occasionally. How would she categorize, for example, Richard Feynman?
The much more important point, in my opinion, is that assigning a label such as introvert or extrovert to someone denies the human complexity to which Whitman referred. Obviously, some people are more or less introverted or extroverted than others. It's also obvious, that some situations (usually in a social context) require outgoing behavior whereas other situations (usually in an intellectual or spiritual context) require solitude, tranquility, perhaps even isolation.
For me, some of Cain's most valuable material is provided in Chapter 11, "On Cobblers and Generals" (especially pages 250-258) when she discusses the implications and consequences of many (most?) schools that are designed for extroverts. "The purpose of school should be to prepare kids for the rest of their lives, but too often what kids need to be prepared for is surviving the school day itself." She goes on to observe, "The school environment can be highly unnatural, especially from the perspective of an introverted child who loves to work intensely on projects he cares about, and hang out with one or two friends at a time." Cain offers several key points for teachers to consider (e.g. "Teach all kids to work independently"), followed by several key points for parents to consider if they able to select a school (e.g. one that hires and supports teachers "who seem to understand the shy/serious/introverted/sensitive temperament"). I agree with Cain that appearance is not reality...but the fact remains, that the misconceptions she repudiates in her book are no less "real" because they are wrong, nor are the "personal anxieties from which we would never quite recover."
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chicken Soup for the Introverted Soul,
This review is from: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking (Hardcover)As a young introvert, I have long wondered about myself. Why is it that I don't LOVE going to bars and clubs when all my friends have such a great time? Why is it that I am comfortable spending a weekend in the comfort of my own home with a good book, when everyone else seems to want to have a loud dinner and hang out?
The book is well-written and engaging from beginning to end. The information is relevant and applicable. The information is presented in a highly readable (and not overly academic) manner. Through reading it, I've gained insight into who I am and why I should accept my personality and all its idiosyncrasies.
I consider myself blessed to have read Ms. Cain's book. I would recommend this book to not just fellow introverts, but to extroverts as well. Everyone benefits from understanding introverts a little bit more.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A positive manifesto for the introvert supported by lots of empirical data,
This review is from: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking (Hardcover)Ms. Cain begins with the premise that North American culture has a strong preference for the extrovert. Since moving to the cities, people have had to compete with one another for attention and so, the extrovert has the obvious advantage. Unfortunately, she argues effectively that an introvert cannot suddenly become extroverted. Between one third and one half of the population are born that way and there’s nothing that can be done to change to change the way an individual experiences the world. The introvert is much more sensitive to external stimuli like interacting with others and so, more easily become overwhelmed from interacting with others. Whereas an extrovert will love going to a large party filled with strangers, an introvert will hate it and, if they do go, will need time to himself or herself to recover. Ms. Cain says there’s nothing that can be done about this. Practice will not change this reality. It may provide the introvert with better ways of coping with social situations but it won’t make them like them anymore. But, argues Mr. Cain, introversion can be a strength, not a weakness. Introverts are better listeners and therefore, as leaders, use the ideas of others to improve the outcome of their endeavors. Many of the most successful companies have been run by introverts. As well, introverts are better able to work on their own for long periods of time which allows for greater creativity and better skill development through practice. Most important though, Mr. Cain argues that introverts must accept their personality type and compensate for it. Every statement made by Ms. Cain is backed with empirical data which, makes this book not only a positive manifesto for the introvert but also one filled with interesting data.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life changing!,
This review is from: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking (Hardcover)As an introvert myself I am always interested in learning more about my personality trait. This is definitely the best literature I've ever read on the subject. So well-researched and well-written, I was just totally fascinated with every piece of information in the book. It has definitely made me much more self-aware and has helped me to realize why I behave and think the way I do - for example, before reading this book I basically just thought that introversion was all about stimulation and nothing else, and never realized that it might also have something to do with why I take such a long time to make big decisions.
I truly feel like this book should be essential reading for everyone. It is massively helpful in showing introverts and extroverts how to understand each other and work together better.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent reading for extroverts and introverts,
This review is from: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking (Hardcover)I'm an introvert and unshamed of it. This is a great book for both introverts and extroverts to read. For introverts, because it .explains why we act and feel as we do, especially in the extro-slanted North American culture. For extroverts, because it explains to them (if they are interested) how the other half of the world works, and how they need us in order to provide balance and sanity in a world that has gone mad. My wife is a confirmed, dyed-in-the-wool extrovert (they say opposites attract!); I think she now understands me a little better, which is nice for both of us!
The chapters on business and religion are excellent, and explained a lot to me. If only businesses would take these things to heart!
The one weakness of the book is towards the end. It seems to peter out with a long "sermon" on how to bring up your (possibly) introverted child. Now of course it is important for parents of young children to understand who they are dealing with, but since those days are long past in my life, I found it rather tedious.
But all in all, a great read, a great source of inspiration, and a book that everyone should read.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A highly revealing look at the power of introverts,
This review is from: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking (Hardcover)As an introvert myself I felt I had to read this book. Overall I found this book did not disappoint. Cain zeroes in on the specific strengths of introverts and how they make a difference. In a world that often sends the message that you should be an extrovert or at least act like one it's good to be reminded of what introverts can do that extroverts can't. Focus, patience, sensitivity, the ability to take strong positions without being antagonistic . . .
The most revealing parts were the places where Cain describes environments that were nearly entirely introverted or extroverted. Something was wrong. Hardly earth-shattering but I think that the message that both extroverted and introverted strengths are required is the ultimate takeaway from this book.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars thankful to have come across,
This review is from: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking (Hardcover)I found this book to be very timely and it will help evaluate my own career and personal development. I totally related to the feelings and experiences articulated by the author. I agree that there is a systematic (likely unconscious) bias against individualism - starting in the school system and carrying over into office environments I have worked in. Of course most of us adapt to these 'rules' without much trouble, however it is very nice to know that there is nothing 'wrong' with my personality. It was very interesting to find out how our natures don't always conform to the 'ideals' of current society, and the historical 'personality' transformation that N. America underwent around the early 1900s. I've never felt comfortable around salesmen, sales pitches, assertions without solid foundation, or public speaking. I now have some fact based explanations for why I feel sensitive and often over-think. Among all the useful knowledge in the book, I think the main message I'm taking away is that it's OK to be YOUrself.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brief Summary and Review,
This review is from: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking (Hardcover)*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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Validation for me.,
This review is from: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking (Paperback)The sub-title of the book intrigued me because, as an introvert, I feel that so many people talk without really saying anything and yet they seem compelled to talk. I worked in an open space office for some years and the constant chatter almost drove me crazy. I would go home some nights very stressed. There was no way to shut it out. All my life I have never been able to talk just for the sake of talking or to fill empty air, yet I felt uncomfortable letting silence fall so I tried and it taxed my energy - I did not enjoy doing that. At some point, I decided that I wasn't going to do that anymore. There is nothing wrong with being silent but the rest of the world seems to expect constant talk, ironically called 'conversation'. It was hard at first, but I learned to be very comfortable with it. I came to the conclusion that there is nothing wrong with being an introvert! I am articulate and am not hesitant to speak out with my thoughts and opinions when it's meaningful and I'm in an interesting conversation with someone or with a small group of people because we are all contributing to a real conversation.
What this book does is to validate those introverts - myself included - that have been made to feel that there is something 'wrong' with them when they sit quietly in a group that is chattering madly. There is nothing 'wrong' with being an introvert - it's just a different way of relating to people and to the world in general. I think we do think 'deep' thoughts and we are interested in many subjects and want to learn about them in depth. We definitely do have a certain 'power' that extroverts don't have. And yet the world needs both kinds of people. So if you are an introvert and have felt alone in this classification, fear not. You are not alone and you are powerful. Value the strengths you have and don't feel compelled to join in when you don't want to.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life-Changing,
This review is from: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking (Kindle Edition)This is one of the most important works of non-fiction published this in the last century. At times I almost wept when I came to understand that it's ok to be an introvert. I finally understand and accept myself. There is not something wrong with me. I wish i had read this twenty years ago. it would have saved me a lot of heartache and helped me make better choices.
I wish I could force every educator to read this. Not everything needs to be group work!
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Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain (Hardcover - Jan. 24 2012)
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