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on November 10, 2014
I believe this book saved my life. I'm not prone to melodrama, or to such excessively long reviews, but this is true, and so important to me, I have to say it. I've been working for years in an extremely busy law office. It's been growing harder and harder throughout the years for me to handle this job. Two months ago my boss fired my coworker, and I've since had to take on two people's work plus train multiple new people (as the first two didn't stay), all with constant, all day long interruptions, high-intensity demands, and a high level of multitasking. This has happened many times before, and while it was dreadful, I managed, but for some reason this time I just couldn't handle it. My entire life has been on hold since this started, I get home from work too exhausted to do anything except veg out for a couple hours and go to bed, and even weekends aren't much better. I was taking terrible care of myself and my life was falling apart. I did, in fact, feel like I was killing myself with this lifestyle, but I simply did not have the energy to fix any of it, or for that matter have any idea how to fix it.

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.
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on August 1, 2016
I am a teacher, a mother, and an introvert. This book was fascinating. This book is written by an introvert, and while it discusses extroversion, it focuses on the benefits of introversion. I usually have my high school students take a personality test. Students are always shocked to find that I am a strong introvert. They don't understand how I can speak in front of groups or lead a class if I'm introverted. This book talks about the power of introverts to go beyond their tendencies in situations where they are passionate about what they are doing. I am a thirty something secure person. I like myself, but reading this book made me feel like there are many other people who face the same feelings and worries that I do. It made me feel like I was part of a larger group of important people. Somewhere while reading this book, I stopped feeling like I was a good teacher despite my introverstion but that I am a good teacher largely because of my introversion. I have re-evaluated the way that I parent, and I am reconsidering the way that I do things in my classroom.

I gave it four stars only because it is extremely long, and I found a lot of it tedious to read. I am an excellent reader, and it has taken me most of my summer break to get through the book. I was never bored exactly, but it does have a lot of information. It requires a lot of attention while you read it. I'm so glad that I did, but this should not be approached as light reading.
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on October 13, 2017
My entire adult life has been spent trying to adjust - to catch up - to a world I barely understand. I grew up in a small town, a place where everyone knew who you were - and everyone you were related to - before you even walked through the door. You didn't have to introduce yourself, people already knew everything they needed to about you - and they either liked you are they didn't based on who you were and what you were all about - in reality.

In the Culture of Character, the ideal self was serious, disciplined and honorable. What counted was not so much the impression one made in public as how one behaved in private. When we embraced the Culture of Personality, Americans started to focus on how others perceived them. They became captivated by people who were bold and entertaining. - Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

I grew up around farmers who barely spoke three words strung together - they were gruff and tough - but you just knew, deep down, that you could trust them with your life, they were straight shooters, no B.S., hard-working, God-fearing folks. People shook your hand and it was the truth, it was a done deal.

In a small town, the Culture of Character still exists. Where you are not judged based on your first impression, or your most recent comments, or if you said the "right thing" or if you said anything at all. People know you. They know what you're about. They know if you are honest, or not. They know about your parents, grand parents, siblings - the good the bad and the ugly. Once you're in, you're in - for life. Who you are matters, not the "show" you put on to convince people of who you want them to think you are.

That's the Culture of Personality, this sausage maker we have all been forced into, this world that thrives on first impressions, Facebook status, resume building and a winning smile. No one knows US - the real us - because we are not allowed to be real. We are selling ourselves in every moment of everyday - whatever "role" we have created for ourselves must be maintained - at any cost. We cannot be complex, multifaceted human beings with a wide range of emotions, opinions, interests and needs. This is too difficult to regulate, control and market.

You must choose a box, usually during college, crawl inside and remain their permanently. Deviation could result in missed promotions, lost status and diminished prospects. So we all dream of "retirement," the time when we believe we can really be ourselves - do what we really want to do and stop cowering before the powers that be.

Not likely. After a lifetime of submission, freedom cannot be resurrected. Freedom must be practiced. The Culture of Personality will persist in new ways. Our craving to belong, to fit in - those needs we have incubated since preschool - remain intact, stronger than ever and drive ever onward.

"Americans found [find] themselves working no longer with neighbors but with strangers. "Citizens" morphed into "employees," facing the question of how to make a good impression on people to whom they have no civic or family ties. Americans have responded to these pressures by trying to become salesmen who could sell not only their company's latest gizmo but also themselves."
- Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

I know what you're thinking: "That's just the way it is bub, get over it already." Right you are. I am not so much longing for a return to my imagined utopia of small town U.S.A. as I am pointing out what has been lost. Americans tend to be "all in" kind of people - we do everything to the extreme - moderation and balance are not our strong suits. When a " new, latest, greatest solution" to any problem emerges, we go all in, tear down our existing structures, re-create our selves and our organizations in this "new image" wait five years, get frustrated with the lack of results and do it all over again. (Think about "school reform" which has been occurring since the very first school was established).

Our problem is that we throw everything "old" out and accept everything "new" as better. We throw out many good ideas, practices and people in the process. The Culture of Personality is shallow, temporary, insecure and trendy. We need to "get rich quick" because we expect to be thrown out on our butts as soon as we get too "old," start to wrinkle or lose our "network of connections" to retirement.

Who we are ceases to matter - who we appear to be is the driver of our destiny. Social media, anyone? This becomes a 24/7 responsibility, to decorate our box to attract others, never showing our real selves for fear of rejection.

So yes, I do miss being "known." I miss knowing others - being able to dismiss a comment or act because I know the person at the core and could put every other interaction into that context. When people become "connections" they stop being people. People are complex. They fail. They screw up. They say inappropriate things. They age. None of which is allowed in the Culture of Personality, where your value is on what you can do, for me, today - yesterday is dead and gone.

Unfortunately, it is only in hindsight that we can see what we missed, how we screwed up and realize what we should have fought harder to preserve. As social media rages on - and we all sink deeper and deeper into the cocoons of our own design - I am desperately trying to see it before I lose it. See what? To see my life from the end, to value what will matter in hindsight, not what trends, ego or insecurity tell me to value today.

In the end, what really matters?

That is the ultimate question that every individual must ask and answer for themselves. When you take your last breath - a day that will arrive despite your futile efforts against "aging" -  will you update your Facebook status ("dying, just taking last breath, not what I expected, SCARED!!! BTW, where is my family?") or will you hug your spouse and children, share tears of joy and gratitude for a life well lived?

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."
- Matthew 7:24-27

Is a good life lived built on a foundation of character or of personality. Which is the rock and which is the sand? I think I know.

What you would choose at your last breath is what you should do now.
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on August 15, 2017
It has taken me nearly 3 months to get through this book mostly because I didn't find it to be very enlightening. I would say that overall this book was okay. It was pretty much entirely made up of ideas and conclusions that I already knew about myself, so it was nice for many of my thoughts about the world to be confirmed by research, but I didn't really learn anything new that will impact me going forward. It was pretty much a lot of overly westernized advice that says a lot without saying all that much. Very surface level stuff. I would say that this book would be really great for people who aren't very in tune with who they really are. Even the author had to convince herself for years that she loved being a Wall Street lawyer when in fact that was not the case. People who have studied philosophy, buddhism, or are used to asking themselves deeper questions, or who are good at listening to their instincts and following through would probably not get much out of this book other than excessive statistics/research that don't really mean anything significant at the individual level. There was something else about this book that I didn't like that I honestly can't describe. It was just the overall feeling of the book. There was just something about it. Also, the writing style was a little annoying at times. She repeatedly used the idiom "hail-fellow-well-met" to describe the ideal extrovert and every time I read that I just wanted to send the book right back to goodwill. I also watched her ted talk, which again, was just ok and meant for people who have no idea who they are. I would give it a 2.5/5 but I rounded down to compensate for the unwarranted number of 5 star reviews.
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on May 25, 2017
Most of my friends see me as an extrovert (or, what the literature calls an extravert). I'm not. Instead, I'm a deeply introverted individual. True, I worked hard to become a learned extrovert (the happiest people on the planet, by the way). Ironically, I worked way too hard, especially from 2003 to 2008. Eventually, it became extremely hard for me to be quiet around others. No wonder most of my friends say there's no way I could be a deeply introverted individual. In the opening chapters of her acclaimed book, QUIET, Susan Cain "proves" my secret identity is my real identity. If only she would write a new book helping jabberwockies like me learn how to be quiet around others, again. In the meantime, if you haven't read QUIET, please do. You'll benefit. Your family will benefit. Your friends and colleagues will benefit. Highly recommended!
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on September 9, 2015
A great review of "Quiet" by Susan Cain, a book about the research findings of how introverts and extroverts interact. While there are many great tools to strengthen and support the traits of extroverts, like group brainstorming, these tools stifle individual creativity and lower the quality of collective work. Being an introvert may be an inherited trait, and should be valued in our society because it produces phenomenal work.

This review includes 8 key takeaways that make it easier to apply the self-help knowledge contained in Cain's book, "Quiet." Being formatted in such a way allows you to quickly see the suggestions and follow Cain's argument succinctly. I highly recommend this review!
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VINE VOICEon October 16, 2011
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is hardly an impartial review. As somebody who has been called at some point or another the gamut of terms associated with introversion, from "shy" (which I don't object) to "anti-social" (which I most certainly consider unfair), I found in Susan Cain's "Quiet," the validation and appreciation many introverts have been searching for.

In "Quiet," Ms. Cain explains the rise of the Extrovert Ideal in the 1920s and how it is that today we associate talkative, risk-taking, and action-oriented people with intelligence, beauty, power and success. The Extrovert Ideal is so pervasive that influences our work performance, educational policies, political choices, and even the country's financial health. But the focus of "Quiet" is on exposing the myths and misunderstandings that were born when we as a culture embraced the Extrovert Ideal and turned introversion into a malady to be avoided.

To dispel the misconception that introversion is some kind of sickness or "weirdness", Ms. Cain traces both the biological and cultural basis for introversion and extroversion and their role as evolutionary survival strategies in animals and humans. She interviews scientists who have conducted hundreds of studies to test different theories in an effort to determine how much of our temperament is a result of genetics and/or of our free will.

The best part of "Quiet" is that the insights gleaned from these studies can help introverts take advantage of their special traits and thrive on their own terms in an extroverted world. Since introversion and extroversion are preferences for a certain level of outside stimulation, Ms. Cain advises introverts to find their "sweet spot" --or what scientists call the optimal level of arousal. Scientists also notice that introverts engage in "deliberate practice" or working alone so for those looking for a job, Ms. Cain encourages them to pay attention to the layout of working spaces to determine how much interruption they may have to deal with at work. For those still deciding on a career, the author reminds readers that research shows that introverts are not reward-seeking like extroverts, but rather motivated by the enjoyment they find in pursuing an activity; in other words, by being in what psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls the "flow". Ms. Cain offers encouragement to introverts to venture in the extrovert world because we all have the ability to stretch our limits but the optimal way for introverts to do it is in the service of their "core projects," the things they are passionate about. And for those with children, the author dedicates an entire chapter for helping introvert children become confident and comfortable in extroverted environments and situations.

Amid the research and the advice, Ms. Cain calls the readers' attention to those introverts who have made a difference in the world like Rosa Parks and Ghandi. They showed that empathy, thoughtfulness, persistence, compassion, focus and conscientiousness, all characteristics ascribed to introversion, are leadership attributes too.

"Quiet" has not only given me a better understanding of introversion but also of the opposite trait. The same person, who labeled me as "anti-social" also boasted on how easily he could befriend people and in the same breath, complained about how my quietness and solitary pursuits would be hell for him. After reading Ms. Cain's book, now I realize why somebody who can make 100 friends would be so bothered by the one solitude-seeking friend in the group and why introverts and extroverts attract each other. And so, I think, introverts and extroverts will both benefit from reading "Quiet". But for those of us, innies who find joy in doing our own thing, prefer a book than join a party or think monastic silence is bliss, there is no longer any need to feel guilty or like we are oddballs because of our preferences. The message from "Quiet" is clear. Introversion has never been an aberration but a variant of the norm.
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on May 28, 2017
"Quiet" is a must-read for all introverts and for all extroverts who are interested in learning about introverts. For any introverts out there who think they were abnormal, awkward, or antisocial, this book is empowering and enlightening. Your introversion is not a disease--it is something that should be embraced. It is not something you need to try to "fix," but simply learn to work with and adjust in little ways to be able to survive in an extro-centric world. The book will give you anecdotes, suggestions, advice and tips on how to help introverts (whether it be yourself or someone you know). It will make you think about how you can better relate to and accommodate introverts in the workplace and in school.
Susan Cain has also spoken at TED Talks, "The Power of Introverts."
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on November 25, 2013
I had a mixed reaction to this book. As a confirmed introvert I was excited when this book first appeared. At last there would be a public discussion about our core cultural values that favor action over thought, form over substance, and noise over quiet. To be fair, maybe the problem is mine, in that I expected a different book than the one Susan Cain actually wrote.

On the positive side, Cain does provide a highly readable and well researched account of the psychology of introversion. For me, the most fascinating part of the book was her summary of the research of Jerome Kagan, who identified two opposite poles of infant behavior, which he labeled "high reactive" and "low reactive". Cain gives a concise and lucid explanation of the link between these two inborn temperaments and introversion and extroversion. She also develops the useful distinction between "temperament", which is inborn and exclusively nature, and "personality" which emerges from the combination of temperament and culture, in other words, nature plus nurture. For introverts like myself Cain offers a readable, non-technical understanding of the source of our often-criticized "shyness" and "aloofness", along with an exploration of the positives of this kind of personality.

What I didn't like about the book was that there were far too many accounts, well-intentioned I'm sure, about introverts who made it in an extrovert's world, particularly by learning effective public speaking. Perhaps she wishes to pass on tips of what enabled her to thrive, in spite of her introverted personality, at a place like Harvard Business School. For myself I would not dream of putting myself in such an environment. I do not see this as an obstacle to overcome. At times the book reads almost like a self-help manual. Although the examples of Moses, Eleanor Roosevelt, Mahatma Gandhi, and Steve Wozniak (and many other high achievers cited by Cain) are intended to be encouraging, I actually found the cumulative effect curiously depressing. The message seemed to be that introversion did not have to be an obstacle to success, at least for highly gifted individuals.

Cain's discussion of the subculture of Asian-Americans was interesting and suggestive of the more penetrating discussion that I expected of American cultural norms. Unlike Asian cultures, ours gives status and rewards to the "cool kids" and "jocks", not to the "nerds" or "geeks". In world in which skilled and sophisticated thinking is becoming increasingly critical to success, both personal and national, this would have been a topic well worth further development.

If I could I'd give this book an extra half-star. Although it didn't completely satisfy me, I think it is a valuable start to consciousness-raising about the positive side of introversion.
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on September 10, 2017
I am an introvert who struggles to conform in this world and what this book did for me was basically validate a lot of secret thoughts I've always had AND back them up with actual psychological studies. It's a very interesting read and a liberating read for someone who identifies as an introvert. It is not a self help book, but more so a compilation of clearly summarized psychological studies. The way it helped me is secondary and it helped by making me feel assured that everything I think and feel is completely normal and that there are many others out there like me who struggle in the same ways.
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