I thought I would like this book since I consider myself an introvert but it left much to be desired. Although I felt like many of her points were accurate, she also made gross generalizations about extroverts and introverts. These types of comparisons are too black and white to be able to apply to real people.
I'm not sure exactly what I was expecting from this book. I think I expected to read something relevant to my life experience. Introverts come in many packages and have varied traits and skills. After the first few chapters the author seemed to focus on her particular brand of introversion, emphasizing qualities like sensitivity, empathy, being soft-spoken, slow and deliberate thinking, and even mentioned her own tendency to cry when she sees something that stirs her emotions. Now, I can't be the only introvert out there who is not particularly sensitive or empathetic, who does not notice many details--especially about people--because I am usually thinking of something else. I have never cried over a sad movie, but I know a lot of extroverts who cry at the drop of a hat. I found myself getting a little annoyed actually, and caught myself thinking, "No! That isn't me at all!"
She does cite a lot of research, and those parts carried some interest for a while. It often reads like the author's personal quest to achieve self awareness, and some of the examples she uses (Al Gore for one) make her political 'sensitivities' too much of a focal point for a book that should have been written to speak to introverts, not just to a certain kind of introvert.
No one should buy this book hoping to gain the kind of insight one can get from a great Myers-Briggs session, but people who share many of the author's own qualities will probably enjoy this very much. Others may not get much of out it.
Ms. Cain is so insightful. The reader (not sure if it's the author) is one of the best I've heard.
This is a fantastic, incredibly well-written collection of the science behind introversion.
This is actually quite an inspirational book. I have listened to quite a few “Self Help” selections, specifically in the business genre. The problem with 99% of these books is they try to change what is an introverted individual into an extrovert individual. Cain reveals that this is, for the most part, impossible. If you are an introvert you can only fake being an extrovert. It is like trying to change a homosexual into a heterosexual. They could possibly fake it but you can’t change the nature of the beast. She makes a convincing argument that not only is introversion normal but in many ways an asset. She lists many ways to deal with introversion in today’s extroverted business climate and world in general.
The narrator is the best female narrator that I have ever listened to. I have many hundreds of books in my Audible collections but for some reason I have never cared for female narrators. Mazur has changed that. As with some of my favorite narrators, I will specifically search for selections that she has done. She is that good!
Now the bad part for me; maybe not you. All of Cain’s heroes in modern day life are liberals. She gushes on and on about Al Gore, Barbara Streisand, President Obama and a host of many people that I have severe disdain for. I understand that it is her book and she can slant it as she wishes but considering the subject matter it was unnecessary. If you are politically conservative this leftist lean is annoying but if you think you would be interested in the subject matter this is still a must get selection.
College English professor who loves classic literature, psychology, neurology and hates pop trash like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.
I am not going to rave about this book, as others have, but I must say it is a thorough and thoughtful look into a personality type that has not entirely gotten a fair shake in American society. As I said, Cain does a better than usual job here in the pop psychology genre, though even as she seeks to escape two typical traps, she often enough falls in: 1) the overgeneralization of personality type a la Myers-Briggs and 2) the "feel-good-by association-you're-okay,-Vincent-Van-Gogh-was-just-like-you!" syndrome. The best parts of the book are where Cain is helping the reader to best utilize various aspects of personality, and fortunately, this make for the majority of the book.
Two great passions - dogs and books! Sci-fi/fantasy novels are my go-to favorites, but I love good writing across all genres.
When I was in college I took a psych elective course which first introduced me to the concept of introversion/extraversion. It was such an eye-opener for this introvert and I excitedly told my Dad about it while home on break. His reaction was, "Get over it, introversion is a sin. You can't be a good witness for Christ, if you are shy." Fortunately, I was already old enough at the time that the statement, although painful, didn't diminish my faith and didn't convince me that I was sinning. But, it was many years before I understood that there is an enormous difference between shyness and introversion - neither one being a sin, IMHO. Over the years I have read what I could find about this aspect of temperament, took the Myers-Briggs test and confirmed my introvert status, and faked being an extravert whenever necessary. So, the conclusions of the studies the author cites (there are many) and her own conclusions were not shocking to me, but this book was still a true delight.
The book itself is well written. Many scientific studies are cited and described but Cain doesn't bog down the listener with dry detail. And, she intersperses the science with interesting real-life examples and illustrative analogies to drive home her points. Cain walks the listener through multiple perspectives of several facets of introversion and its often associated characteristics (like empathy, cautiousness, thoughtfulness, etc.) and provides wonderful examples of where and how this trait may work to advantage in life. And, provides some very useful mechanisms for an introvert to step into a more extraverted role when desired. She also gives some history to explain why my Dad and most people in our society got the idea that introversion is always a negative quality and something to be overcome. (It did help me find a little forgiveness for a comment that has been hurting me a bit for years.)
I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the psyche in general - it is interesting, well-written, and well-narrated. Introverts will love it - proof for many things you've known intuitively, explanations for things you couldn't figure out, and, of course, appreciation for a quality you may have spent your life hiding from many people. Extraverts will find a lot of interesting information about extraversion also and how to use the trait more effectively in life. Any introvert will wish everyone he/she loves would read the book because it explains much that introverts have trouble making their extraverted loved ones understand. But, ultimately, I wish all parents would read this book or something like this so that the MANY introverted kids out there could be affirmed and appreciated for who they really are. It is a pity that virtually all American introverted kids will have to use some of their adult years and energy getting over the judgments and cuts to self esteem that inevitably come to a sensitive thinker in a Just Do It society.
Say something about yourself!
I bought this book to better understand how I could support our exceedingly introverted son. What surprised me is how much I learned about myself, as well. I learned why I am always so utterly pole-axed after even a brief lunch with friends--and how to better manage my energy. And I got wonderful insights into my son's "quiet" and also learned, as hped, how to support him. After reading this book, I feel like being an introert is very much like having a hidden super power.
I have bought ten copies of this book to hand out to friends and family--and every single person has been amazed at what a fabulous book this is.
If you have a relationship with someone who is on the quiet side, this book will explain to you what is going on in that quiet person's head and heart.
If you are a quiet person yourself, you will find this book to be empowering. The stuidies cited will make you feel wise, will make you grateful to be the introverted soul that you are. You will feel really good aout yourself and want to read it over and over again.
With all the interviews with successful introverts, those who have managed to come out of their shells somewhat, yet still retain their core quiet nature, I felt for the first time in my life that I was not alone. And that the quiet me, who is truly content to be alone for days on end, who would rather read than go to a party, who gets exhausted when pushed into the madding crowd--all that is okay. In fact, those introverted qualities are to be cherished and nurtured.
The book also helped me gain some insight into my son's inner world. He is far more introverted than me, bordering on social anziety. QUIET offered sound advice on hleping him find some balance and encouraging him to push himself in a healthy, nurturing way.
I wish every teacher, every CEO in the world had to read this book. It would open their eyes to the value and wisdom of the quieter people in the world.
If you are involved with a QUIET person, or are a parent to a quiet person, this book will really help you understand why your true love/son/daughter/ parent/friend is the way he/she is--and by the end of the book, you will look at that person with an entirely new, and appreciative eye. You will wish you were QUIET, too.
It's hard to state how bad this is. The book embraces the grossest stereotypes of the extrovert/introvert divide, hammering home the underlying theme that introverts are smart, sensitive and quiet, and extroverts are loud, stupid and boorish. The science presented is, let’s say, suspect, as all science apparently backs up the premise 100% with no possibility of doubt. The single interesting scientific claim is that introversion/extroversion is largely determined at birth, with introverts being more sensitive to stimuli (and so seeking generally to reduce it) and extroverts being less sensitive to stimuli (and so seeking general to increase it).
The book also contains numerous anecdotes of introverts succeeding and extroverts failing (you can tell the winners are introverts because they do smart things in the anecdotes) that add nothing to the discussion. Don't worry too much though, extroverts (although the book suggests worrying may be beyond your mental capacity), your Cro-Magnon existence may be somewhat mollified by learning the traits of introverts and attempting to duplicate them to the extent your clumsy brains will allow.
If the reader has been steeped in the god-awful rah-rah-rah salesman go-get-em literature genre, this book I suppose might provide an antidote by being equally bad in the opposite direction. But that would be its only, very limited value.
While I do thing the overall message of this book was good and necessary, I was bothered (and had a really hard time getting over) some basic biases? (not sure if that is exactly the right word) that the author had. First of all, she rages on Harvard MBAs and then quotes time and time again research that Harvard MBAs did.
I think one underlying fallacy that she adopts is the idea that people contribute high quality work because they are introverted. And that if only more people would be introverted, we would have more high quality work.
It's as if she is saying that only cars that take diesel fuel are good cars. Just because introverts are fueled differently than extroverts doesn't mean their quality of work is better or worse.
The author must have some bones she wanted to pick and so she added them (and eventually diluted) the main point of her book. I think it is important that we allow people to be introverted just as we allow people to be extroverted, but I think she missed the target on what makes a person contribute high-quality work.
Quiet kicks off with the tale of Rosa Parks. The author imagined – and maybe I did too – that Miss Parks was a stately woman with a bold personality who could stand off against a bus full of people, an irate driver, and the police, and win – but she wasn't. She was small, and quiet, and tired, and simply refused – quietly – on that particular evening to comply with a stupid rule. And the author asks "How could you be shy and courageous?" This surprised me. Aren't the shy inherently courageous? What extroverts do without thinking – from asking questions in meetings or class to going to parties – introverts see as hurdles to be got over. Extroverts have to be brave in extraordinary circumstances. The shy have to be brave every damn day.
This sets the stage for the book. I learned quite a lot, but questioned some of the conclusions and directions the author went with, and in the end I can't say I feel the power the subtitle mentions. It's possible, and I see how – but it's a hard row to hoe, and all the other metaphors in "Hard Knock Life".
I should say, before I begin to maunder and meander about the book, that Kathe Mazur does a lovely job of the reading. She maintains a mostly neutral tone, so that her voice merges with the work; she disappears into the narration, for the most part. I'm curious about how her style would work with fiction; with non-fiction it's perfect.
I scored 19 out of 20 in the evaluation quiz in this book's first chapter; my only diversion from pure introversion (sorry 'bout that) is that I do like to multitask. I don't like to just watch tv – I'll be on the computer at the same time, or sewing, or something, anything. I hate driving with just the radio on now – if I don't have an audiobook in my ear I feel like I'm wasting valuable time. But even this might be a result of living in an extroverted world; I've had to learn how to multitask in my jobs, and it's sloshed over into life.
Being an introvert (with the addition of shyness, which, I find, is not the same thing – just shoot me now) … For me, that means that almost every morning when it came time to go to school I would feel sick. I had a ridiculously high absentee rate, because in general school was hell for me. I liked the classes, loved the way the world opened up a little every day, even kind of liked homework sometimes. But being expected to participate, being called on whether or not I raised my hand, having to participate in the group projects and readings-aloud and other torments teachers love to devise … Having to cope with my classmates, even those I considered friends… When I was in my mid teens I saw Dead Poets Society for the first time, and I was shattered. I was, I am Todd Anderson (only with much better parents). The wonderful, fictional Mr. Keating recognized Todd's limits, and knew how to move him past them. I never met the teacher who cared to do that – I never had a Mr. Keating, or even a Neil. (If you don't know what I'm talking about go watch the movie. Yawp.)
In elementary school, in high school, in art school, had I been outspoken, had I been outgoing, had I at least been able to speak up and say "Oy! Over here!" – things might have been different. I wasn't able. Knowing that without a drastically different setting things I couldn't have been able – that alone made this a worthwhile read. "At school you might have been prodded to come 'out of your shell'—that noxious expression which fails to appreciate that some animals naturally carry shelter". Well, yeah. And prying a snail out of its shell will have disastrous results for the snail.
And then there's work. The same thought processes go on in the average manager's minds as in the average teacher's: reward the ones who successfully walk the line between conformism and aggression, and pay attention to the ones who make you pay attention. Three words: "Team-building exercises"… the mere phrases makes me queasy. Why don't managers realize that the reason these things build camaraderie is because it unites everyone in their absolute loathing of the moronic and grating waste of time that they are? How does anyone think they're a good thing? Or, at least, that they're a good thing for everyone?
There is a section of the book which focuses on the Harvard Business School, and everything this author says about the school makes exquisite sense in terms of W's attendance there. For me, for introverts in general and those poor buggers who matriculate their introversion, it's another circle of hell. The title of an article from the HSB newspaper is quoted: "Arrogant, or Simply Confident?" Er. If you have to ask … Heh. If you have to ask, you might be an introvert.
A bit of an aside, from this section: "'It is approximately 2:30 PM, October 5th,' the students are told, 'and you have just crash-landed in a float place on the east shore of Laura Lake, in the subarctic region of the northern Quebec-Newfoundland border.' Um … huh? Newfoundland is an island, and so doesn't exactly share a border with any province; Quebec borders the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Also, this furthers a stupid stereotype that Newfoundland is glacial and filled with walruses and igloos. It's really not. Perhaps they meant Labrador? Also, Google Maps shows the lake is something like 13 hours from the coast. What idiot wrote this scenario?
Part of what helps make people successful, or perhaps simply a characteristic of successful people, is in their speech patterns. "Verbal fluency and sociability are the two most important predictors of success, according to a Stanford Business School study." Also, talking fast is seen as a good thing. Well, as the Mythbusters say, there's your problem. When I talk fast it's obviously nerves, not aggression or confidence. And, sadly, I'm one of those who waits for an opening to speak. I despise people who begin talking before I've finished a sentence – shockingly, customer service reps do it all the time; I've gotten into the habit of just finishing anyway. For me, it doesn't matter if the person I'm speaking to has just said something moronic (for instance, that Lake Laura is on the border of Newfoundland) or brilliant or anything in between that requires a response from me, I will wait for a pause before I interject. It's what I was brought up to call "politeness", and also ties into my own reserve. Apparently, what I see as basic manners is actually a hindrance to my success. Oh dear.
I unfortunately did not make note of who said it, but here's a quote that's sending me (and this review) on another tangent: "I'm sure Our Lord was [an extrovert]"… Really? How odd. I suppose every group tries to claim Jesus as one of their own, but I've never thought of Him as an extrovert. Charismatic, certainly; not shy, by any means; confident – well, sure, with God on His side… but extraverted? I really hesitate to class Christ in with some of the huckster evangelists making millions off his name.
Okay. Anyway. Another quote:
"Embarrassment reveals how much the individual cares about the rules that bind us to one another. … It's better to mind too much than to mind too little."
That's interesting. And it's true – the ones who are never embarrassed are the ones you have to be wary of. My sociopathic ex-boss was never embarrassed.
It suggests … that sensitive types think in an unusually complex fashion. It may also help explain why they're so bored by small talk. If you're thinking in more complicated ways … then talking about the weather, or where you went for the holidays, is not quite as interesting as talking about values or morality. The other thing Aaron found about sensitive people is that sometimes they are highly empathic. It's as if they have thinner boundaries, separating them from other people's emotions, and from the tragedies and cruelties of the world. They tend to have unusually strong consciences. They avoid violent movies and tv shows. They're acutely aware of the consequences of a lapse in their own behavior. In social settings they often focus on subjects like personal problems which others consider "too heavy"….
"The description of such characters as "thin-skinned" is meant metaphorically, but it turns out it is actually quite literal … skin conductance tests … High-reactive introverts sweat more."
Fabulous. Shoot me now. Yup, this book is all about me. (Except I love Criminal Minds, and when I spent a solid week a while back catching up on Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones I tended to walk away from my computer dazed at the enormous body count.)
I've gone through my life saying – or at least thinking – Don't you see that? Don't you hear that? Well, now I know – they, whoever they are at any given moment, might not see or hear – or feel or understand – whatever it is I do. I've said elsewhere that my sociopathic ex-boss loved to refer to me on every possible occasion as the office's "bleeding heart liberal". And here I learn that that hasn't been entirely a choice with me. I am wired to cry at Hallmark commercials and well up when someone else – even a complete stranger on tv – cries.
Yay. Bloody amygdala. Bloody pain in the arse amygdala.
How nice – how calm and unstressful and unteary – it must be to function at a lower level of empathy and heart-bleeding.
I loved the tidbits about the "Griselda moods" of Eleanor Roosevelt – "named for a princess in a medieval legend who retreated into silence". Rosa Parks and Eleanor Roosevelt – having two such standouts among "my people" makes it all seem a little less dreadful.
I loved the example of "The Bus to Abilene": "about a family sitting on a porch in Texas on a hot summer day and somebody says, 'I am bored. Why don't we go to Abilene?' When they get to Abilene, somebody says, 'You know, I didn't really want to go'. And the next person says, 'I didn't want to go – I thought you wanted to go' and so on…. The Bus to Abilene anecdote reveals our tendency to follow those who initiate an action – any action." The ones who speak up control the actions of the rest – especially those of us who hesitate to express an opinion.
This was a fascinating book; it was enlightening; it was clarifying. As I said at some point earlier, it is good in a way to know that, for the most part, I couldn't have handled a great many situations in my life very much differently. I’m wired to behave as I do. Also … knowing I'm not alone in this is, I suppose, also good. The introverts are the ones who don't network and make a splash, which means you can be in a room with ten introverts and two extraverts and it's the latter pair you – and the introverts – will remember later. Whereas each of those ten introverts will go away thinking they were the only ones who were uncomfortable and itching to get out. What a shame. If those ten introverts could get together, they might have a better time. Then again, getting together is antithetical to their nature, so … basically? The upshot? It sucks to be an introvert.
On the whole, though, I'm not sure what reading this accomplishes. It's startling to read (listen to) a really damned accurate description of my own personality, and to learn that there have been scientific studies done on people exactly like me to find out why we are like me.
It's nice to have confirmation that there are scientific reasons why to me the word "party" does not mean happy times, and that there are plenty of other people who feel the same way.
I think I understand better now why some people love Bosch and death metal and bull fights, when I prefer Vermeer and Billy Joel and the Puppy Bowl.
But I don't really need validation. I'm old(ish). I've (finally) reached a point in my life where I know my limits, know when I can push them and when I'd be better off not, know how to fake it when I have no choice. "Power"? In a world which disregards those who don't push themselves forward? No.