At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over brainstorming in teams. Although they are often labeled "quiet," it is to introverts that we owe many of the great contributions to society--from van Gogh’s sunflowers to the invention of the personal computer.
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 20th 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."
This extraordinary book has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how introverts see themselves.
©2012 Susan Cain (P)2012 Random House
"An intriguing and potentially life-altering examination of the human psyche that is sure to benefit both introverts and extroverts alike." (Kirkus)
"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)
"An intelligent and often surprising look at what makes us who we are." (Booklist)
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.
This book will make any introvert feel a little more normal and accepting of themselves. The studies are thoroughly explained and relevant. However, even though this book is about embracing your introvert individuality, the author seems to be fond of collectivist politicians, so figuring out what angle the author is coming from overall is a bit contradictory. Nearly every example is a college professor or a liberal politician. There was also a mini rant about global warming. It would be a nearly perfect book, but some credibility was lost because of the unnecessary political references.
The thoughtful and insightful explanations of introverts and extroverts, and the examples of each given.
The realization that introverts are not inferior as our culture would have us believe.
She remarkably brings the author to life to me.
I want to learn more along these lines since listening to this 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.
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.
Family father, neuroscientist, and non-fiction audiobook addict.
I thought long about whether I should give this book 4 or 5 stars because there were certain aspect of the book that I did not like. Some central assertions were based almost entirely on anecdotes. I realize that it is a powerful way to drive home your message, but it can also be disingenuous - appealing to people’s emotion. I was also not very pleased with Cain’s description of the neuroscience. She made it seem as though the almond sized amygdala was all there was in the brain and that whether or not this part of the brain lit up under certain circumstances was all important. Yes, yes, I am a cerebellar scientist and am therefore probably overreacting here, but I would have preferred that the neuroscience was left out instead of receiving this very biased account.
Ok, enough of the bad stuff. I did after all give this book 5 stars (which is rare for me). The reason for this is that this book is one of few books I have read in my life that really made me see things, especially myself, in a new light. While I consider myself to be a rather social person who gets along with others I also have many introvert traits. During my time at University I really did not like the weekends because I felt that I had to go out and drink and dance not to be considered strange. I have also always been a little bit ashamed that I can be a “coward”. At least that is how I would have described it to myself before reading this book. Now I prefer to use the terms cautious. I am also a highly adaptable person and I can to some extent transform my behavior based on the circumstances. Again, before reading this book I saw this as being a disingenuous person. After all, you should be who you are and stand up for your ideals no matter what the circumstances, right? While I used to think this I do not anymore. It would be absolutely terrible if everyone spoke their mind all the time. The world needs people who can work in different circumstances, people like me. I guess what I am trying to say in this paragraph is that before I read this book I had consciously and unconsciously bought the extrovert ideal that is so prevalent in our society. I had seen all my introvert traits as weaknesses that I had to combat and conceal. This book made me see that these traits can work to my advantage and it helped me find the proper middle ground where I can better assess my own personality, my strengths and my weaknesses. If you are also an introvert or have introvert kids I really really think you should read this book!
Overall the book is well structures, easy to read and of a good length. Cain starts out by describing the extrovert ideal. To drive this message home (though I think it is a fairly obvious point) she describes a day at a Tony Robbins event where everyone is dancing, speaking with deep confident voices, doing high fives and walking on coal etc. Cain, who is an introvert feels awkward under these circumstances (as would I), and she is not ashamed of it. She states what should be obvious but strangely isn’t, that the world needs people with different qualities. Indeed, under certain circumstances it is better to be more quiet and less assertive. According to studies Cain describes bosses with highly skilled employees are better of if they are introverts, probably because being more quiet allows them to better harvest the qualities and ideas of the employees. Cain also talks about the power of working alone. As one illustrative example, take brainstorming which is normally done in small groups. Actually studies show that you get a better brainstorm if people are allowed to come up with ideas on their own which are later pooled. In certain situations, a group of people can be a constraint rather than a benefit. She also brings up several examples which have been founded by introverts such as Apple, Microsoft, and Google. Though these are huge companies it is hard to tell whether these examples are representative of the overall picture. Nevertheless, there can be little doubt that qualities such as cautiousness, empathy and conscientiousness can be very good qualities to have in some companies. Cain suggests that in some cases introverts can even hold aggressive stances in negotiations because they are less likely to antagonize the other part the way an extrovert outspoken person might.
In the remainder of the book Cain writes about the nature nurture debate (it bothered me that she seems to presume that free will exists, but I forgive her), and about different examples where temperament mattered (ex Wall street crash). The last three chapters serve as a type of guide to introverts and to parents of introverts. What types of conflicts tend to happen between introverts and extroverts and how should these be solved? What strategies can introverts use to avoid falling off the earth altogether? To what extent do you push your introvert child to do extrovert things such as hold presentations? Cain suggest sensible answers to all of these questions and I think that many people would benefit from reading this, and they are genuinely encouraging to introverts and parents of introvert children. I found it encouraging for instance that introvert children are influenced by their parents more than extrovert children. Thus introvert children will benefit more from good parenting than extrovert children (which is nice to know if you are indeed a good parent).
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.
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.
It's an interesting topic. The author distinguishes people into broad categories of introvert and extrovert and for purposes of exploring those personalities, she uses a number of public figures. For example, the self-help guru, Tony Robbins, is examined and he falls obviously into the extrovert category. Some of the authors other examples used to illustrate the differences in these two groups were just absurd; Al Gore, Rosa Parks. Whether she's correct or not wasn't really the issue. People like Al Gore are public figures and they come with baggage, baggage you may like or dislike. In my case, I just found it impossible to listen to a description of Al Gore as an introvert and find any way to identify with him. Unless you are a fan of Al Gore, think Rosa Parks was next to God and find Warren Buffet to be a lovable figure, avoid the book.
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