Author: Susan Cain
Publication Date: 2012
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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. Taking the reader on a journey from Dale Carnegie’s birthplace to Harvard Business School, from a Tony Robbins seminar to an evangelical megachurch, Susan Cain charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal in the twentieth century and explores its far-reaching effects. She talks to Asian-American students who feel alienated from the brash, backslapping atmosphere of American schools. She questions the dominant values of American business culture, where forced collaboration can stand in the way of innovation, and where the leadership potential of introverts is often overlooked. And she draws on cutting-edge research in psychology and neuroscience to reveal the surprising differences between extroverts and introverts. Perhaps most inspiring, she introduces us to successful introverts–from a witty, high-octane public speaker who recharges in solitude after his talks, to a record-breaking salesman who quietly taps into the power of questions. Finally, she offers invaluable advice on everything from how to better negotiate differences in introvert-extrovert relationships to how to empower an introverted child to when it makes sense to be a “pretend extrovert.”
I have to start off by saying I understand myself and my past experiences after reading Cain’s Quiet. I’ve always known I’m an introvert. I’ve learned how to put on my “pseudo-extrovert” mask when the situation calls for it, but I truly always crave that downtime and quiet time at the end of the day. My favourite part of the day? When I crawl into bed, pick up a good book, and read in silence. Quiet has reaffirmed to me that it’s okay to need this time to recharge. It’s ok to want to leave social situations early because they are often overwhelming or exhausting. For me, this has always been a huge source of guilt, but Cain’s writing has showed me that I’m not alone.
One third to one half of the population is introverted. Can you believe it? I love how Cain calls attention to our societies fixation on extroversion. Introverts are out of place in this world that promotes group work, brainstorming, and open concept workspaces. I’ve often felt so isolated by my experience of just wanting to be home as life gets busier and busier, or of feeling anxious even in my time alone when my weeks are so busy that I barely have time to pause and take a breath. After reading Quiet, I know how essential it is to carve out that restorative time and to take time just for me.
I know many people have said they don’t consider me to be introverted. This is where I really connected with Cain’s idea of the “pseudo-extrovert” because I believe that I am one. I love chatting one on one with friends and colleagues, but I often have a hard time formulating discussion points in larger groups, so I avoid them. In a comfortable setting, I can be chatty and goofy, but I also am quickly exhausted and long for solitude.
Cain’s text is well structured, well-researched, and thoroughly entertaining. I was impressed that not only did she attend a conference for the introverted, she also pushed herself to attend (and even enjoyed) a conference targeting those who want to be more extroverted. She spoke to many researchers and psychologist, trying to understand the science behind personality. She explain how the brains of introverts and extroverts react differently in social situations. Her writing style is strong but also fluid.
One thing I would have liked to see more is a connection drawn between how introverts and extroverts interact in their daily lives. Cain does discuss this, but I would have liked to see even more analysis. My boyfriend and I fall on completely opposite ends of the spectrum. He’s as extroverted as they come and I consider myself to be a slightly sensitivity introvert. We compliment each other so well in that, in social situations, I am often able to let him take the lead so that I can still listen, but I don’t need to be an overly active participant in the conversation. For him, I offer the balance of thoughtfulness, quiet time, and calm.
Susan Cain’s Quiet was an eye opening read that taught me a lot about my self, my relationships, and my place in the world. I completed the Myers-Briggs personality test and I am an ISFJ-T.