Book Review: Quiet by Susan Cain

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop TalkingLately, I’ve read some fantastic non-fiction books and this one is near and dear to my heart. The following is my review from Goodreads.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

For many years I’ve known I was an introvert. But it wasn’t until I read Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain that I truly began to understand what that meant. It satisfied my need to understand myself and others – introverts and extroverts – and backed it up by the science. Yet, the tone of the book is conversational, as if you are sitting in a comfortable nook with the author explaining it all in easy-to-understand language.

The book is very balanced in it’s approach. This could easily devolve into an introvert vs extrovert argument, but it never does. Ms. Cain stresses again and again that we need both types in the world and uses dozens of examples to illustrate her points.

In America and many other countries, there is a culture of personality, with an emphasis on how others perceive us. The person who can “sell” himself with charisma and confidence and verbal ability is the celebrated ideal and often tapped as a leader. However, when you look below the surface of institutions and movements based on this ideal, such as corporations, motivational speakers, and evangelical communities, you see that the push to conform and the “teamwork” mentality actually kill creativity that could increase innovation and sales. A big segment of workers are alienated and countless opportunities are lost because the abilities of introverts aren’t being used or even considered.

These qualities include sensitivity, persistence, the ability to concentrate and analyze, and create deep relationships if given the time and space and quiet they need.

To prove what is possible, the book sites numerous examples of introverts who have excelled, why, and how they did it. Some are famous, such as Steve Jobs, Al Gore, Warren Buffett, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Lewis Caroll. Others quietly plug away, such as managers of financial institutions that weathered the Wall Street Crash of 2008 and came out ahead and a successful and beloved Harvard University psychology professor.

The book discusses ways introverts can stretch their personalities a little to accommodate their environment. It shows examples of how introverts and extroverts can learn to see each other’s points of view, work together, live together, and thrive despite and because of their differences. It specifically examines why and how teachers and schools, business managers, and parents can understand, help, and benefit from introverts and their skills and perspective on the world.

I, for one, grew up thinking there was something wrong with me because I wasn’t as sociable as everyone else. I eventually grew away from that feeling, mainly because I have a good support system. But what about other introverts that don’t have that support and can’t speak up? I sincerely hope people, particularly teachers and business people, read this book and really consider what they would find if they looked at others and saw not just the outside appearance, but the possibilities below the surface.

View all my reviews

Introversion is an important topic to me and I plan to write future posts about it. Are you an introvert? If so, what kind of experiences have you had, good or bad, as a result? 

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12 comments on “Book Review: Quiet by Susan Cain

  1. D J Mills says:

    Myers-Briggs covers 16 basic types, including Introverts and Extraverts, sensing and seeing, feeling and perceiving, and thinking and judging. (I think I got them all). I am most definitely an Introvert. I am also a recalcitrent, not because I rebel but because I see through most of the propaganda put out by authorities and won’t conform to what they want the masses to believe. 🙂

    In managing, we had to recognise the most suitable person for each project, utilising their abilities to get the job done while doing what they were best at. All areas of Myers-Briggs were equally important, and none were less than the others..

    I think, if I remember correctly, the Introverts are the most creative. I will continue to write stories, learn and grow, and hope one of my stories really takes off with readers. 🙂 I am also waiting to read your story when you finish the revision. Hints, but no pressure! 🙂

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  2. E.K. Carmel says:

    Lol – I remember, Diane! 😉 I took a break from revising, but getting back into it now. I hope your writing is going well.
    I love Myers-Briggs. I use it for characters and I’ve even informally typed most of my family. It’s fun but it’s helped me deal with people that are very unlike me, too.
    That’s cool that your managing job took the Myers-Briggs into consideration.

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  3. peterhobbs1 says:

    Hmmm the Introvert/Extrovert discussion, how it makes our society don’t you think. I have always felt myself an introvert, few but fast friends, quiet socially, introspective. Yet my career demanded the opposite of me, living in a world of social necessity, speaking to groups (shudder) and being a Manager of Men. I learned that I have two sides to me, the happy quiet introvert and the pained forced extrovert. I am sure Im not alone, we all must have a bit of each in us, its a matter of which one we are more comfortable with. The book sounds great, the review was wonderful thank you.

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    • E.K. Carmel says:

      You’re very welcome, Peter! I agree with you that we all have some of both in us. I know I have my more social moments, as long as they don’t last too long. 😉

      Your comments reminded me of something in the book. It described how introverts who have to act extroverted for jobs manage to stay sane by being able to “get away” even if it’s just for a walk during lunch or locking themselves in a bathroom stall for a while to find some quiet.

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  4. Sounds good. It’s on my list ot read. I am intrigued by this notion of intro/extrovert. In my book about Henry Bridges, one of the most intriguing things about him was how he managed to combine being a clockmaker – presumably an introvert – and a showman, ie the opposite. I think he was both because he had a dream and that was how he made it real. Most of us tend towards one or the other, but have to force ourselves to be something different. I tend to get more out of the latter. I love the challenge of being different to my normal self, even though it can be hard and very tiring. Or may be I have no idea what I am or what I am talking about.

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    • E.K. Carmel says:

      I suspect, like you, that he was probably a little of both. We all probably vary a bit on this.

      In order to survive in this crazy, busy, live-out-loud world we live in, we who lean more toward the introvert end of the spectrum often have to develop strategies for coping in situations we aren’t comfortable in. As long as I have time and quiet afterward I can do extroverted things and even enjoy them.

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  5. E.K. Carmel says:

    Very true, Barb.

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  6. […] of this more and more lately, particularly since reading Quiet by Susan Cain (which I reviewed in a previous post). Also, with the nice Spring weather, I feel more energetic and ready to tackle new […]

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