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Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking Paperback – January 29, 2013
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“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
“A rich, intelligent book . . . enlightening.”—The Wall Street Journal
“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
“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
“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
“Charm and charisma may be one beau ideal, but backed by first-rate research and her usual savvy, Cain makes a convincing case for the benefits of reserve.”—Harper's Bazaar
“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 of The Progress Principle
“An intriguing and potentially life-altering examination of the human psyche that is sure to benefit both introverts and extroverts alike.”—Kirkus Reviews (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
About the Author
Named one of the top ten influencers in the world by LinkedIn, Susan Cain is a renowned speaker and the author of the award-winning books Quiet Power, Quiet Journal, and Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Translated into more than forty languages, Quiet has appeared on many "best of" lists, spent more than seven years on the New York Times bestseller list, and was named the #1 best book of the year by Fast Company magazine, which also named Cain one of its Most Creative People in Business.
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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 international reviews
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.
Why doesn’t she want to talk about celebrities, gossip, and other pointless rubbish? Why is she so ‘rude’?
They thought I might be autistic or have social anxiety disorder.
This book has described everything I have been confused about since I was very little, and made me see that the things that are ‘wrong’ with me are actually good things. Knowledge is power, and understanding myself at last is brilliant. I feel so free.
However much I enjoyed the book, I am still left with the feeling that it is the product of wholesale confirmation bias and a search for the most affirmational stories and studies of the positive side of introversion. We are told inspirational stories about, for example, Rosa Parks, Steve Wozniak, Eleanor Roosevelt and Gandhi. There are a number of anecdotes recounted from Cain's own life and her consultancy work. There are examples of how horrible societies and institutions can be when they are too fixated on extroverted ideals. All in all, it is a little bit overdone.
Cain has done a very good job, though, of pulling together all of the scientific research. From Jung and Myers-Briggs, through Eysenck to Kagan and Schwartz, the findings of early observers seem to be attributable to clear differences in the way introverts' brains function. There are some good work highlighted from recent observational studies such as Grant, Aron, Little and Snyder. When you start to be able to pinpoint specific behaviour and link it directly to specific physiological differences, introversion appears to be a large number of conditions, none of which need to coincide in one individual for them to be seen to be an introvert. We need to replace the one introvert-extrovert definition with all of the more precise sub-divisions.
To prove that I am an introvert, I went through the book and found 47 positive things that are stated to correlate to introversion. These easy generalisations spoil the book, turning it from being a valuable scholarly endeavour to being a populist one-half-of-a-crowd pleaser.
Susan Cain is a former lawyer, an alumna of Harvard Law School, an introvert, who turned to homemaking and writing. She ‘looks back’ on her years as a Wall Street lawyer as time spent in a foreign country. “It was absorbing, it was exciting, and I got to meet a lot of interesting people whom I never would have known otherwise. But I was always an expatriate.”
That aggressive, self-assured, extroverted personality types are highly valued in competitive, materialistic, success-orientated nations like the US is well-known. Introverted, person-orientated, easygoing types tend to be regarded as second-class citizens. How extroversion became the cultural ideal in the US is dealt with in detail in Chapters 1-3. America had shifted from what Warren Susman called a ‘Culture of Character’ exemplified by Abraham Lincoln to a ‘Culture of Personality’ (under Donald Trump?) and opened up a Pandora’s Box of personal anxieties, ‘a natural product of a society that was both dog-eat-dog and relentlessly social.’ America quickly developed from an agricultural society to an urbanized, ‘the business of America is business’ powerhouse. Dale Carnegie, Madison Avenue, Hollywood, IBM, Tony Robbins, and that temple of extroversion and doyen of vocal business leadership, Harvard Business School, and televangelists, all typify the rise of extraversion. The New Groupthink organized workforces into teams, even brainstorming in groups, and created open-office plans rendering creativity in solitude impossible. The rise of the worldwide web, however, has offered some respite for introverts, spawning wondrous creations via shared brainpower.
The basic personality type that a person has is a result of all factors in the person’s upbringing, including genetics. Psychologists accept that people do not change from one basic personality type to another, even though variations are possible, tempered by their pathological characteristics. The so-called Big 5 traits: introversion/extroversion, agreeableness, openness to experience, conscientiousness, and emotional stability encompass the gamut of personality traits.
Chapters 4-7 examine the biological basis of introversion, including brain structures in amygdala and neo-cortex, which are active participants in our emotional-rational lives. Recent research work by Jerome Kagan, the author of ‘Galen’s Prophecy,’ Dr. Carl Schwartz, and Dr. Elaine Aron are cited. Extroverts’ dopamine pathways lead to an emotional state called ‘the buzz’ – a rush of energized, enthusiastic feelings with a delightful champagne bubble quality. However, this may cloud their judgment. Financial and military history is replete with examples of extroverts charging ahead when they should have withdrawn. Introverts are threat-orientated and have an inbuilt loss-avoidance system, and so are less risk-taking. Despite the variety of experiences in our lifetime, our core traits remain constant.
Part 3 of the book deals with other cultures, in this case, mainly Chinese-Americans, who are more introverted and Mahatma Gandhi, who wielded soft power with devastating effect on the British Empire.
The value of the book is in Part 4, which advises introverts on how to love and how to work in the US.
If you are an introvert in corporate America, you should spend your weekdays striving to ‘get out there, mix, speak more often, and connect with your team and others, deploying all the energy and personality you can muster’ and retreat for quiet weekends. In other words, engage in a certain level of pretend-extroversion. Identify your core personal projects, and develop a ‘restorative niche’ as Professor Brian Little advocates. (Little also extolls the book as ‘superb’.)
In personal life, introverts who are married to extroverts must both strive to understand each others’ different ways and accept the realities to resolve their differences. Parents of introverted children must expose their children gradually to new situations and people and determine the right schools to put them in. ‘The secret to life,’ the author says, ‘is to put yourself in the right lighting’ (and not to avoid the spotlight). As group dynamics contain impediments to creative thinking, whereas solitude is often a spur to creativity, companies must think twice about how to design office space to accommodate both group interactions and “rabbit holes into which Alices can tumble”.
Susan Cain presents a strong case for introverts vs. extroverts in the US, emphasizing that the more socially desirable types have limitations, while the silent minority of introverts who receive fewer social rewards have assets which make them valuable, too. There is no doubt that healthy introverts are profound thinkers and visionaries, even geniuses, such as Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, and Emily Dickinson. However, Susan Cain glosses over the intersection of introversion and other negative traits, such as neuroticism, schizoid behavior, delusions, and nihilism. The stress caused by social isolation and the physical exhaustion brought about by a hyperactive mind may eventually result in thought disorders and over-dependence on anxiety drugs, much of which plagues America today.
The book cover is understated, in subdued white, with the title and author’s name embossed, in sharp contrast to Americana, with red, blue, stars and stripes emblazoned in much of its merchandise.
The book is a must-read for expatriates in the USA who may find the pace loud and hectic. Just where can the true-blue introverts in the world find a sanctuary?
In Finland, of course. Finland is a famously introverted nation. Finnish Joke: How can you tell if a Finn likes you? He is staring at your shoes, instead of his own. (Page 14, ibid.)
This book lead me to have a brief discussion with my manager about my own working style and how best to use my skills and temperament moving forwards and for that alone it may have been a beneficial read. The fact that it was interesting and informative is a welcome bonus.
This also explores how parents can better deal with Introverted children, especially if they are also Introverts or even if they are Extroverts and their more sensitive child may be a puzzle to them.
This book has lead me to explore this topic in greater detail and to read some other books mentioned by the author as part of her discussion.
In a world that seems to be constantly screaming at us, it is a relief to know my desire to step back and recharge is perfectly normal and that everyone in society has something to offer. This is empowering and quite some achievement for an author to offer a reader.
If this topic even remotely interests you then this book comes highly recommended. It is a clear and fascinating journey into different personality traits and will open your eyes to a world of possibility and personal acceptance.
This book provides valuable insights for everyone interested in how people work, and how they can be their best. In a world which responds to the loudest voice, this is a timely reminder of the power of quiet, and how the balance of both is the best way forward. It has given me lots to think about, and a new perspective to view myself and the world. Bravo!!
Several parts of the book made me cry (yes, literally!). Particularly when Cain describes the struggles that introverts are facing when dealing with situations and people that don't understand the nature of introverts - teachers who demand you 'contribute' more in classroom discussions as a way to 'participate', parents who think there's something wrong with you when you prefer to sit at the corner during parties or reading books at home rather than going out and play with other kids, bosses who often overlook your values in the organisation because your too-soft voice is often drowned by the more overpowering noisier people around you.
I can't count how many times throughout reading the book that I wish I found a book like this way sooner - during my angst-ridden teen years for instance when the personality vs virtue tug-of-war was at its greatest height. When I often envy people who are more extroverted and gregarious - not wanting to be like them but at the same time wishing that I could be like them. I could have spared myself those years of thinking that there's probably something wrong with me (validation by well-meaning parents and teachers play a part in nurturing this sentiment about myself). This is the first book about extroversion vs introversion that I have read in many years that tells me that not only is it okay to be myself, but being myself is great. I can be the best I can ever be by being my introvert self. That I'm lucky to be born as an introvert. I shouldn't change who I am no matter what people tell me or expect from me.
As an educator, this book provides me with very valuable insights on how to help my introvert students to shine in this world that sometimes seem to favour extroverts. Most importantly, it makes me appreciate who I am even more. My hope is that I can pass along this message to all introvert kids that I have the privilege to have as my students.