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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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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
WASHINGTON POST BESTSELLER
LOS ANGELES TIMES BESTSELLER
USA TODAY TOP 50 BESTSELLER
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BESTSELLER
Fast Company’s #1 Best Business book of 2012
INC Magazine’s Best 2012 Books for Entrepreneurs
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GoodReads Nonfiction Choice Award Winner
Audible’s #1 Non-Fiction book of 2012
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Kirkus REVIEWS’ Best Books of 2012
“An important book that should embolden anyone who's ever been told, 'Speak up!'”
“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.”
—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.”
“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.”
“An intelligent and often surprising look at what makes us who we are.”
“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.”
“Quiet is a thought-provoking and fascinating work that reminds us of the dangers of solely listening to the loudest voices.”
“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.”
“Cain’s Quiet revolution calls us all to rethink the way we value human contribution.”
—Revel In It Mag
“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
About the Author
SUSAN CAIN is the co-founder of Quiet Revolution LLC and the author of the award-winning New York Times bestseller QUIET: The Power of Introverts in A World That Can’t Stop Talking, which has been translated into thirty-six languages, has appeared on many “Best of” lists, 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. Cain’s book was the subject of a TIME Magazine cover story, and her writing has appeared in the The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, and many other publications. Her record-smashing TED talk has been viewed over 10 million times, and was named by Bill Gates one of his all-time favorite talks. Cain has also spoken at Microsoft, Google, the U.S. Treasury, the S.E.C., Harvard, Yale, West Point and the US Naval Academy. She received Harvard Law School’s Celebration Award for Thought Leadership, the Toastmasters International Golden Gavel Award for Communication and Leadership, and was named one of the world’s top 50 Leadership and Management Experts by Inc. Magazine. She is an honors graduate of Princeton and Harvard Law School. In 2014, Cain partnered with office design company Steelcase to create Susan Cain Quiet Spaces, with a range of architecture, furniture, materials and technology to empower introverts at work. She lives in the Hudson River Valley with her husband and two sons. You can visit her at www.thepowerofintroverts.com., and follow her on twitter (@susancain).
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My credentials match the author's and I'm at least as well researched as she is, so I feel confident when I say this book muddies the waters more than parts them on the subject of introversion/extroversion. The opening chapters are focused and insightful as they detail our society's evolution from a character-drive culture to a personality-driven culture. You only have to look to reality TV to see that she's right. And her characterization of Harvard Business School as little more than a networking hothouse is spot on. You can be wrong or at least completely full of crap, and so long as you can sell it, people will buy in and give you money. If I could say that in Latin, I'd suggest that as the new HBS motto.
But then Ms. Cain begins to tangle the concepts of shyness, conflict-avoidance, fear of public speaking, and being skinny and wearing thick glasses with introversion. These ideas are stereotypes, and not at all interchangeable. From here her data is so scattered and misinterpreted that I started to wonder if the author is spinning a toastmaster tale about her own introverted personality and experiences in the world, and has (until this point) done the song and dance so convincingly that I bought in, and it's only now as she contradicts her own earlier assertions I can see the truth. She can't hold a tune.
Shyness is not interchangeable with introversion. Shyness is characterized by a fear of new social situations. To put it in personal terms, as the authors does throughout the book, I am very introverted and yet I love new people, new foods, new ideas, new everything. I also have a wide variety of interesting friends. I just don't like to experience them all at once. I can't stand the idea of a clique and fade quickly at big, loud impersonal parties. I like to see my friends one at a time or in very small groups with breaks in between. I'm not shy in any way. And I'm friendly when I'm in the mood to make acquaintances. I'm just not in the mood very often. Fear is not the same as disinterest.
Stage fright, or the fear of public speaking, is also not a sign of introversion. I have given seminars for years and can speak after planning an elaborate speech or right off the cuff. And I can participate in brainstorming sessions and lively debates in seminars. I'm usually quick-witted and articulate. I'm just exhausted afterwards and require a long period of recovery. I'm not the one who organizes happy hour after a class. I'm the one who goes home to veg in silence, without even the energy to discuss my day with my partner or our children. I feel overloaded, overstimulated and I need time to decompress. If I don't get it, I become panicky and upset. And if I'm deprived of solitude over time, I will become physically ill. But I'm neither afraid nor slow to speak my mind. And I'm not a conflict-avoider. It just depletes me, rather than energizes me.
And finally, here comes the shocker: I'm not unattractive or "nerdy" as she calls it in any way. In fact in high school, while I wasn't popular or the life of the party, I always had a boyfriend and was even crowned town beauty queen. I aced my one on one interview, filled out a prom dress well, and wrote an award-winning fiction piece that impressed the judges enough to put me in the finals of a pageant. And then when I answered their final question on stage in front of the entire town, I was thoughtful and articulate. I won the crown and a scholarship. My parents and boyfriend wanted to celebrate with a big party. I declined and spent the afternoon in my room watching movies. I let them answer the phone and accept my congratulations. I was spent from my efforts and needed time to recharge.
Being an introvert means that you expend more energy in social situations than you extract. An extrovert goes to a party or participates in a brainstorming session and feels energized. An introvert goes to a party and participates in a brainstorming session and feels drained. Introverts need a period of solitude to recharge and their overall social needs are lower than extroverts.
My husband is an extrovert. He's loves to socialize. The more he does, the more full of energy and ideas he is. Our two children have inherited and expressed our opposite temperaments in unique ways. Our daughter is an extrovert like her father, but she's also shy. She's fearful of new situations, food, rejection, but she's incredibly expressive about it and craves companionship and social interaction at every turn. When she does things alone, she claims she's bored and loses motivation and energy easily. When she's with a group, she's a powerhouse, more apt to overcome her shyness when she's around other people. Our son is the opposite. He's charming and polite, but prefers to work and learn alone. He's extremely popular with his peers, but he rarely requests playdates or accepts invitations. After school each day, he needs to spend an hour playing by himself or reading before he can interact positively with the family. If he's having a problem, he does best when we say very little and let him alone to work it out in his own head. My daughter needs to talk out her problems ad nauseum. Both have high self-esteem and do not envy the other's level of social activity.
Overall this book started out with a lot of promise. I do believe our society has become beholden to the cult of personality. Cain cites the internet as a originally being a haven for introverts, but I believe even that has changed. Twitter and Facebook are mass social vehicles reaching the most amount of people with the least amount of effort. It's a barrage of snarky comment pissing contests and meaningless small talk, advice, and platitudes or fishing expeditions for such things-- the very antithesis of what introverts value in their social connections. Additionally, they've made it so anyone can manufacture a personality and life for the sole purpose of garnering such attention, but one that has little to do with the reality of its users' daily lives. If you're taking the picture and posting it on Instagram, then you can't possibly be participating in the event fully and authentically. Social media has become the embodiment of the toastmasters challenge-- lie convincingly enough and it will become true. I'm not entirely sure the rise of this phenomenon is about extroversion so much as narcissism and histrionics gone wild.
I don't think Ms. Cain was able to maintain her lie or profound misunderstanding about being an introvert. And when she starts using the terms shy, nerdy and socially inept interchangeably with introverted, her slip begins to show and never more so when she characterizes the entire Chinese people as introverted (cultures that place high value on restraint have little bearing on heritable temperament traits of individuals) or gives pop psychology parenting advice like "Don't just accept your child for who s/he is. Treasure them."
If you want a good read about this subject, try Daniel Goleman or Carol Dweck. Read the astute review of this book in the New York Times or try Psychology Today's Introvert's Corner.
The start was great when the author lists the `successful' introverts. Her message was to embrace it and make the best of your being an introvert - that you can be successful even if you are not the outgoing kind. All well and good.
Then she moves to the physiological part and quotes from a lot of studies and data. This bogged me down quite a bit. I felt it was good to know why we are what we are from a scientific point of view but after a point I found the studies and data pages to be overwhelming. The author seemed to underline her point that if you are an introvert, data overwhelmingly says you are what you are and can simply not avoid being what you are - an introvert.
Then the author moves onto compare Asian children to America children and delves on their approach to education and life in general. Asian kids are found to be the introverted kind whereas the Americans more outgoing. I am not sure whether I agree with this. I found the author stepping (or confusing herself) from cultural to introvert a little too conveniently. What she deems as being introvert I would label it more of a cultural issue where a people and society "consciously" place a large amount of emphasis to excel in the field of education whereas in the American/Western approach we are more holistic stressing on the overall development of the child therefore the exposure to sports, arts and extra-curricular activities in general that can appear extroverted.
I also took exception to the Asian and American proverbs used in order to compare introverts and extroverts. The author misses the point that the Asian proverbs have a foundation of deep "conscious" cultural and philosophical thought behind them. It is a mark of a culture and the "choice" of a people to the dedication of deep thought and spiritual curiosity not a state of being an introvert. If the author had delved a little more deeply in Asian/Indian studies she would have found that emphasis of education is not restricted to the introverted types but as a foundation for all (community, society) to excel in life. Though the idea of a "good education = good job" is largely western and the driving force in today's world, for generations Asians and Indians pursued knowledge for a whole lot more than its pragmatic offerings.
In continuation of the above thought I wish the author would have researched on the aim and benefits of Yoga and compared them to introverts. It would provide an interesting topic of research. If I like practicing Yoga, to acquire a state of calm and balance in life, a life totally calm and focused inward, does that make me an introvert? It has been proven that yoga for a large part changes a person's physiological and psychological state from an active person (extrovert) to somebody calmer (introvert?). How does this compare to the physiological state of an introvert?
Dedicating a chapter to the Recession of 2008 was a little too tacky for me. To blame extroverted people as a cause for the Great Recession, Enron etc seemed too simplistic. At what point does moral accountability, responsible leadership or a sense of empathy come in the picture? To say that if introverts were in charge of the economy that things would be different is a little stretched for me. One counter point that comes to mind is, who devised the intricate products, ABCP, Risky derivatives? I doubt it was an extrovert.
I was not too comfortable on the advice to introverts to pretend to be extroverts because successful introverts have done them. Without weighing in on the moral implications I found it too easy of an advice and generally self-defeating. Somehow it sent the message you really cannot make a living being an introvert.
Lastly, I wish the book would have a chapter on the deeper problems that introverts face - depression, doubt etc. The book highlights on mostly the outward aspect - public speaking, being more aggressive in communicating etc but being an introvert, living in one's own world has its own set of demons. How does an introvert fight the self-doubts regardless of outward situations. How does an introvert cope with the struggle to act or not to act? Do introverts get more depressed than extroverts? I wish the author would not have been `Quiet' on these issues?
I seriously think the book could be far more deep than in its current version. The inner world is a mystery that only now has seriously begun piquing peoples' interest. A lot needs to be done and explored. Personally, I would have me think as an introvert but there are people who laugh at me when I say that. I justify that comment as I have found myself shut in a room for hours on end working quietly on a project but at the same time I can totally unwind and be part of the sales group at the local bar. I spend time writing, thinking deeply and am naturally attracted to topics considered deep but yet I have little problem connecting with people on mundane issues. I would conclude that one side does not fit all. And to reiterate if the author ever wants to write a sequel I would advise her to study Eastern Philosophy. A lot of insights can be gained on the evolution of human consciousness in its various states. She would see that Introversion = Eastern and Extroversion = Western would have a totally different meaning.