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Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking Kindle Edition
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Amazon Exclusive: Q & A with Author Susan Cain
Q: Why did you write the book?
A: For the same reason that Betty Friedan published The Feminine Mystique in 1963. Introverts are to extroverts what women were to men at that time--second-class citizens with gigantic amounts of untapped talent. Our schools, workplaces, and religious institutions are designed for extroverts, and many introverts believe that there is something wrong with them and that they should try to “pass” as extroverts. The bias against introversion leads to a colossal waste of talent, energy, and, ultimately, happiness.
Q: What personal significance does the subject have for you?
A: When I was in my twenties, I started practicing corporate law on Wall Street. At first I thought I was taking on an enormous challenge, because in my mind, the successful lawyer was comfortable in the spotlight, whereas I was introverted and occasionally shy. But I soon realized that my nature had a lot of advantages: I was good at building loyal alliances, one-on-one, behind the scenes; I could close my door, concentrate, and get the work done well; and like many introverts, I tended to ask a lot of questions and listen intently to the answers, which is an invaluable tool in negotiation. I started to realize that there’s a lot more going on here than the cultural stereotype of the introvert-as-unfortunate would have you believe. I had to know more, so I spent the past five years researching the powers of introversion.
Q: Was there ever a time when American society valued introverts more highly?
A: In the nation’s earlier years it was easier for introverts to earn respect. America once embodied what the cultural historian Warren Susman called a “Culture of Character,” which valued inner strength, integrity, and the good deeds you performed when no one was looking. You could cut an impressive figure by being quiet, reserved, and dignified. Abraham Lincoln was revered as a man who did not “offend by superiority,” as Emerson put it.
Q: You discuss how we can better embrace introverts in the workplace. Can you explain?
A: Introverts thrive in environments that are not overstimulating—surroundings in which they can think (deeply) before they speak. This has many implications. Here are two to consider: (1) Introverts perform best in quiet, private workspaces—but unfortunately we’re trending in precisely the opposite direction, toward open-plan offices. (2) If you want to get the best of all your employees’ brains, don’t simply throw them into a meeting and assume you’re hearing everyone’s ideas. You’re not; you’re hearing from the most vocally assertive people. Ask people to put their ideas in writing before the meeting, and make sure you give everyone time to speak.
Q: Quiet offers some terrific insights for the parents of introverted children. What environment do introverted kids need in order to thrive, whether it’s at home or at school?
A: The best thing parents and teachers can do for introverted kids is to treasure them for who they are, and encourage their passions. This means: (1) Giving them the space they need. If they need to recharge alone in their room after school instead of plunging into extracurricular activities, that’s okay. (2) Letting them master new skills at their own pace. If they’re not learning to swim in group settings, for example, teach them privately. (3) Not calling them “shy”--they’ll believe the label and experience their nervousness as a fixed trait rather than an emotion they can learn to control.
Q: What are the advantages to being an introvert?
A: There are too many to list in this short space, but here are two seemingly contradictory qualities that benefit introverts: introverts like to be alone--and introverts enjoy being cooperative. Studies suggest that many of the most creative people are introverts, and this is partly because of their capacity for quiet. Introverts are careful, reflective thinkers who can tolerate the solitude that idea-generation requires. On the other hand, implementing good ideas requires cooperation, and introverts are more likely to prefer cooperative environments, while extroverts favor competitive ones.
A Reader’s Guide for Quiet:The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking
By Susan Cain
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. This extraordinary book has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how introverts see themselves.
Questions and Topics for Discussion
1. Based on the quiz in the book, do you think you’re an introvert, an extrovert, or an ambivert? Are you an introvert in some situations and an extrovert in others?
2. What about the important people in your lives—your partner, your friends, your kids?
3. Which parts of QUIET resonated most strongly with you? Were there parts you disagreed with—and if so, why?
4. Can you think of a time in your life when being an introvert proved to be an advantage?
5. Who are your favorite introverted role models?
6. Do you agree with the author that introverts can be good leaders? What role do you think charisma plays in leadership? Can introverts be charismatic?
7. If you’re an introvert, what do you find most challenging about working with extroverts?
8. If you’re an extrovert, what do you find most challenging about working with introverts?
9. QUIET explains how Western society evolved from a Culture of Character to a Culture of Personality. Are there enclaves in our society where a Culture of Character still holds sway? What would a twenty-first-century Culture of Character look like?
10. QUIET talks about the New Groupthink, the value system holding that creativity and productivity emerge from group work rather than individual thought. Have you experienced this in your own workplace?
11. Do you think your job suits your temperament? If not, what could you do to change things?
12. If you have children, how does your temperament compare to theirs? How do you handle areas in which you’re not temperamentally compatible?
13. If you’re in a relationship, how does your temperament compare to that of your partner? How do you handle areas in which you’re not compatible?
14. Do you enjoy social media such as Facebook and Twitter, and do you think this has something to do with your temperament?
15. QUIET talks about “restorative niches,” the places introverts go or the things they do to recharge their batteries. What are your favorite restorative niches?
16. Susan Cain calls for a Quiet Revolution. Would you like to see this kind of a movement take place, and if so, what is the number-one change you’d like to see happen?
—Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project
“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
“Think Malcolm Gladwell for people who don’t take themselves too seriously. Mark my words, this book will be a bestseller.”
—Guy Kawasaki, author of Enchantment
“Susan Cain has done a superb job of sifting through decades of complex research. . . . This book will be a boon for the many highly sensitive people who are also introverts.”
—Elaine Aron, author of The Highly Sensitive Person
From the Hardcover edition.
- File size : 3325 KB
- Publication date : January 24, 2012
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 370 pages
- X-Ray : Enabled
- ASIN : B004J4WNL2
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- Publisher : Crown; 0 edition (January 24, 2012)
- Language: : English
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #9,521 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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I blamed myself - there must be something `wrong with me' because I can't handle the job. I wanted to leave, but thought, if I can't handle this job, how am I going to handle a new job? It'll probably be more of the same. I thought I was just getting soft because I was getting older (I'm in my late 40s).
I've always known I was introverted, but I didn't realize just what all that entailed - I thought it mostly meant `shy' or that I didn't like social settings.
This book taught me more about myself than I've ever known. It read like my biography. Almost every page had a new insight into why I think and feel the way I do. Throughout the book I saw my very own self described in new and empowering ways.
I learned that the job situation I'm currently in - the non-stop deadline demands, interruptions, never being able to work quietly or alone no matter how difficult a project was, phones ringing incessantly, people in my face all day long, etc. - especially when it's work that I actually don't care anything about personally - those are the exact circumstances that trip every one of a strong introvert's triggers. And I was subjecting myself to it 40 hours a week, for months.
It's no wonder I was so miserable and completely exhausted all the time. And as enlightening as it was to learn how many of the traits I've beat myself up for over the years are just a product of my introverted temperament (being highly sensitive, shutting down when subjected to stimulation overload, preferring to think a thing through before I speak - something I never get to do at work, as if it takes me more than 5 seconds to say something, I get interrupted and cut off), the most important thing I got from this book is that it's okay to be myself, it's okay to feel the way I do. There is not something `wrong with me' that I have to `fix.' I am not weak or a failure because I don't feel or behave like my extremely extroverted boss (who thrives in high-energy crisis mode, and is bored unless he's doing 10 things at once - and expects the rest of us to keep up).
And far from it being an age-related `going soft,' what's probably in fact going on is that as I get older, it is becoming increasingly vital to me to be truer to myself.
I also found the information on the history of the "rise of the Culture of Personality" completely fascinating, it really gave me a new insight as to just exactly how we 'grew' this tendency to value extroversion over introversion. It makes so much more sense now.
This book gave me the courage I needed to start taking the steps to fix my work situation. Not only the courage, but the `permission' and the understanding - because I now know there isn't something wrong with me, but instead this is what I need to do to be my best self, and stop killing myself with stress. That I probably can find a place of value in the world by being myself, not trying to force myself to be something I'm not. I know I will meet resistance from my boss (I'd love for him to read this book, but unfortunately I know he won't), and I know I won't instantly fix everything in one day, and that I'll probably always need to be able to stretch myself a bit to do things that are not ideal for me ... but this book taught me that there are ways to make that work, too, if you understand and honor the need for recharging around such tasks, instead of trying to force yourself to do them 8 hours a day with no break. It doesn't have to be all or nothing, in either direction. Basically, I'm not out of the woods yet, but I now see the path out, and I have hope.
I think every introvert should read this book, because it will help you understand why you are who you are, and why that's a beautiful thing, not a character flaw. And I think everyone who knows an introvert should read this book, and quit trying to "fix us."
Which means pretty much the entire country (or world) should read this book. The wealth of information and insights in this book cannot be overstated - especially if you are an introverted type of person who has always felt there was something not quite right about you, or that you somehow needed to change to fit in or succeed. This book will give you back yourself, and in my case, my life. Thank you, Susan Cain, from the bottom of my heart (which is finally beating at a more normal speed because I'm not panicked about going to work for the first time in months).
Edited 11-13-14: It worked! I'm now working half-days at the office and half-days at home, and in a few weeks will transition to working from home full time. I never imagined that could happen. It's amazing what becomes possible when you finally realize you deserve what you already knew you needed.
Please forgive me for being too upfront or dramatic, but to put things in perspective I have made repeated attempts on my own life over the last 20 years and, not surprisingly, been plagued by severe, chronic, and recurrent depression and anxiety since early childhood. I believe this book has been a major turning point for me. No longer do I see myself as ‘broken’, ‘sick’, or ’hopeless’, but just an introvert in an extrovert's world. Since reading it, my mental health has improved drastically. And while I'll always have the tendency to be hard on myself, this book and its insights have allowed me to grant myself some compassion and room to breathe. Now I see my biggest ailment all along has been trying to fit into patterns of behavior which were fundamentally against my nature.
A prime example from my life: I called myself weak if I had trouble working 50+ hours a week the way my peers seemed to do without problem. Then, just to meet expectations, I would force myself to go out after work with the same coworkers I had just spent all day around when what I truly wanted was time alone in order to decompress. What happened over and over again is I would push myself until I developed migraines or other physical symptoms. I ignored my body's signals, believed it was possible to deny my needs, and thought that pushing through the pain would be rewarded. No wonder I was so unhappy. If I feel like this, I know there must be others who do too.
The research cited in this book show there are clear neurological differences in the way introverted brains process sensory information. Those findings told me that I truly am hard-wired this way. If the way I take in the world cannot ever be changed, then it's up to me to find the grace to say “This is just the way I am.”
Today I realize I cannot change who I am at the core, but I can learn to love myself. It is also my duty to navigate through life in ways that are sustainable and healthy for me, and to disregard the ‘shoulds’ which were making me ill. We of this personality type can not only improve our own existences, but also possess the ability to make the world better and more well-rounded. Indeed, society can benefit from our unique perspective if it would only take the time to listen to our carefully-formulated and often soft-spoken contributions.
So far I don't yet have a success story of how I have used this knowledge of myself to bring me from rags to riches. But I have moved away from traditional employment to more freelance work and flexible telecommuting positions. I hope that armed with this newfound self-acceptance I will eventually be able to make my introversion work for me, rather than pressuring myself to 'succeed' in spite of this trait. I guess I need to change my definition of success from financial wealth and externally recognized achievements, to one that centers around my internal balance and contentment day-to-day. I’m still a work in progress.
For now, I try to do my part by reaching out to fellow introverts, recommending this book, and letting them know I find them beautiful just the way they are. And I make sure to plan alone time into my days and activities in order to maintain my mental stability.
My wish for everyone who feels like an outsider is to read this book. Chances are you're just an introvert and either don't know it, or have been taught that extroversion is the only way. Once you become comfortable with yourself, the world and its possibilities will open up. Please read this book.
Top reviews from other countries
The writing is an excellent mix between research, case studies and thoughtful conclusions, all balanced so it never feels boring or overwhelming. There is a section of endnotes, and because I was reading the Kindle version, the notes were all linked – if you click on the note, it takes you to the endnotes with a longer explanation! I get happy about the little things.
The ideas are also incredibly interesting. Not everything will apply to all introverts, but I’d recommend this book to anyone – it’s really interesting to be challenged on how I view the world from an introvert perspective (like arguing – raising your voice means an attack! But for extroverts, it’s a sign of passion and involvement) and it’s really interesting to realise how those difference shape society and interactions with others.
It’s also so, so reassuring. This is me. This is some reasons why I might do the things I do, why I don’t like parties in a certain format, why I need down time when other people don’t. It’s being reminded that it’s ok to be different, and that actually there are other people out there who are similar – even if I live and work in a world that seems full of extroverts, it’s ok to need alone time, and that my strengths don’t have to lie in the same things – listening, thoughtfulness and consideration are all important, even if they come at a cost of an immediate answer or participation in small-talk. It was also reassuring to realise that being able to extrovert on occasion is normal – it just comes at more of a cost to introverts than it does to extroverts!
Interesting, thoughtful, readable and inspiring – the kind of book that leaves you thinking about it a long time after you’ve shut it.
What if your child is an introvert and does not like to be in the centre of public attention, prefers to have a deeper relationship with a smaller group of friends and occasionally needs to recharge the energy level by being on his/her own?
My daughter turned 8 this week and she did not want to have any birthday party. She does not enjoy competitions, she is uncomfortable joining new groups and takes her time to make new friends. She enjoys playing imaginary games or reading a book. At the same time, when at home or with a small group of friends, my daughter is a bubbly, chatty girl.
As a (mostly) extrovert mum, I have made my share of mistakes with my child. When adults try to talk to my daughter and she does not reply, I jump in with the comment, “She is shy”. Worth of it, I would push my daughter to talk to adults (like ordering in the restaurants) to the extent that she would get so nervous and get a tick. That made me stop and think. I started to look for help in some books and , luckily, I came across a wonderful book by Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop.
The book does not only explain the nature of introverts and helps to understand their character better, but also gives practical advice how to make sure you help introverts not to go against their nature but let them flourish in the culture of extroverts.
Thank you Ms Cain for such a wonderful gift to the parents!
I have faced a lot of people asking the same questions repeatedly like
Why are so quiet? What are you thinking the whole time?
What will you do at home the whole day?
Why don't you mingle with all in any kind of gatherings? You look so serious is there any problem? And in addition to this, I experience a distressing and weird reaction of my hand getting sweat and hearing my own heartbeat whenever I stand up in my classroom to speak up feeling overwhelmed while entering a shopping mall or a public market. These are the questions and experiences faced and felt for which I don't any kind of answer. So I started to search on the internet and even had a thought of consulting a psychiatrist but I didn't.
In the process, I came to know the people who are quiet, shy, solitary, etc are considered as a category called introverts. From then I have been searching to know more about introverts like articles, videos, books, etc. I have watched Susan Cain's Ted talk and longed to read this book. After reading this book I have an answer to all my questions and struggles personally experienced.
The book was well written. It gives us a detailed history of America on how the culture of outgoing, assertive, showmanship prevailed during the 20th century. It tells us the transformation of the culture of character to the culture of personality in a short period. It bursts the myth of charismatic leadership that even quiet people who think before they speak can be good leaders in their own ways. Extroverts and Introverts have their own pros and cons in every position in life and society.
The second part goes into the brains of introverted kids and tries to explore the reasons for introverted behavior whether it depends on the nature of their mind or can be nurtured while growing depending on their environments.
The next part describes us about relationships with introverts as it is said that for every three people there is one introvert so it can be your partner, brother, sister, friend and children.
It gives a detailed description and advice on how to understand and empathize with your relationships.
It is a Good Book and a definite read for everyone to understand the people around you because one third to half the world's population are introverts.
It answered all my questions about my personality, I kind of felt normal not an alien😁 anymore after reading this book.
To be brutally honest, as an extrovert, I was very sceptical about this book - I was under the impression it would be soppy and introverts playing the victim card. I could not have been any more wrong!
For me this book was such an eye-opener (even though I have done MBTI before and was fairly well familiar with E v/s I) into understanding, not just introverts, but myself as an extrovert.
I could not put the book down once I started it and I would recommend everyone to read it - I've actually recommended it in my book club at work. Don't assume, as I did, that only introverts will have something to take from this book. If, like me, your other half is an introvert, this book could really help improve communication in your couple.
Talking is not always necessary - a good book and a cuppa works just as well!
I got this book on a recommendation on a forum where I was researching about how to be more confident a person. I've been struggling recently, becoming more senior in my role at work and so have felt pressured to be more comfortable in my own skin and get my ideas across in a way that people listen. It just doesn't come naturally to me, and I was starting to judge myself for it and feel like I wasn't good enough because everybody expects you to be a particular way.
Well, after reading this book, I would challenge anybody who makes me feel like it's not okay to be the way I am and would explain that even though I am quiet, the world still needs people like me just as much as it needs people that can grab attention from everybody in a room. And I also understand that even though I might need to be a "pseudo-extrovert" at times and can learn how to be good at public speaking and will still need to put myself in uncomfortable situations for the sake of things I believe in, I still need down-time and respect the fact that I am happiest when I have time to recharge at home or spend time with my family in a calm and cosy setting. I also think this book will help me when I have children in making sure that whether I have an introverted or extroverted child, they have all the support they can from me no matter what.
Susan Cain has an amazing writing style and I've never been kept interested to read a book like this from start to finish, as it has a lot of references to studies and usually I find this quite boring in other non-fiction books to do with health. But she keeps you involved, and forever writes about things that I'm guessing a lot of people can relate to whilst you carry on reading. She also reflects on a lot of experiences she's had with various people - again, something I don't usually enjoy, but it is written so well that I was never bored for a moment.
The book is quite long and has smaller writing than a lot of books I read, but honestly - read it. If you class yourself as an introvert, just buy it. It will change your life.