Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can't stop talking Paperback – 30 Jan 2012
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I can't get Quiet out of my head. It is an important book - so persuasive and timely and heartfelt it should inevitably effect change in schools and offices (Jon Ronson The Guardian)
Susan Cain's Quiet has sparked a quiet revolution. In our booming culture, hers is a still, small voice that punches above its weight. Perhaps rather than sitting back and asking people to speak up, managers and company leaders might lean forward and listen (Megan Walsh The Times)
Quiet is a very timely book, and Cain's central thesis is fresh and important. Maybe the extrovert ideal is no longer as powerful as it was; perhaps it is time we all stopped to listen to the still, small voice of calm (Daisy Goodwin The Sunday Times)
A startling, important, and readable page-turner (Naomi Wolf, author of The Beauty Myth)
About the Author
Susan Cain is the author of the Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller Quiet: The Power of Introverts in A World That Can't Stop Talking, which has sold over 2 million copies and been translated into more than 30 languages. Since her 2012 TED talk was posted online it has been viewed over 17 million times. Her writing on introversion and shyness has appeared in the New York Times, the Guardian, Oprah magazine and Psychology Today. Cain has spoken at the Royal Society of Arts, Microsoft and Google, and has appeared on the BBC, CBS and NPR. Her work has been featured on the cover of Time, in the Daily Mail, the FT, the Atlantic, GQ, Grazia, the New Yorker, Wired, Fast Company, Fortune, Forbes, USA Today, the Washington Post, CNN and Slate.com. She is an honours graduate of Princeton and Harvard Law School. She lives in the Hudson River Valley with her husband and two sons.
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The writing is an excellent mix between research, case studies and thoughtful conclusions, all balanced so it never feels boring or overwhelming. There is a section of endnotes, and because I was reading the Kindle version, the notes were all linked – if you click on the note, it takes you to the endnotes with a longer explanation! I get happy about the little things.
The ideas are also incredibly interesting. Not everything will apply to all introverts, but I’d recommend this book to anyone – it’s really interesting to be challenged on how I view the world from an introvert perspective (like arguing – raising your voice means an attack! But for extroverts, it’s a sign of passion and involvement) and it’s really interesting to realise how those difference shape society and interactions with others.
It’s also so, so reassuring. This is me. This is some reasons why I might do the things I do, why I don’t like parties in a certain format, why I need down time when other people don’t. It’s being reminded that it’s ok to be different, and that actually there are other people out there who are similar – even if I live and work in a world that seems full of extroverts, it’s ok to need alone time, and that my strengths don’t have to lie in the same things – listening, thoughtfulness and consideration are all important, even if they come at a cost of an immediate answer or participation in small-talk. It was also reassuring to realise that being able to extrovert on occasion is normal – it just comes at more of a cost to introverts than it does to extroverts!
Interesting, thoughtful, readable and inspiring – the kind of book that leaves you thinking about it a long time after you’ve shut it.
To be brutally honest, as an extrovert, I was very sceptical about this book - I was under the impression it would be soppy and introverts playing the victim card. I could not have been any more wrong!
For me this book was such an eye-opener (even though I have done MBTI before and was fairly well familiar with E v/s I) into understanding, not just introverts, but myself as an extrovert.
I could not put the book down once I started it and I would recommend everyone to read it - I've actually recommended it in my book club at work. Don't assume, as I did, that only introverts will have something to take from this book. If, like me, your other half is an introvert, this book could really help improve communication in your couple.
Talking is not always necessary - a good book and a cuppa works just as well!
However much I enjoyed the book, I am still left with the feeling that it is the product of wholesale confirmation bias and a search for the most affirmational stories and studies of the positive side of introversion. We are told inspirational stories about, for example, Rosa Parks, Steve Wozniak, Eleanor Roosevelt and Gandhi. There are a number of anecdotes recounted from Cain's own life and her consultancy work. There are examples of how horrible societies and institutions can be when they are too fixated on extroverted ideals. All in all, it is a little bit overdone.
Cain has done a very good job, though, of pulling together all of the scientific research. From Jung and Myers-Briggs, through Eysenck to Kagan and Schwartz, the findings of early observers seem to be attributable to clear differences in the way introverts' brains function. There are some good work highlighted from recent observational studies such as Grant, Aron, Little and Snyder. When you start to be able to pinpoint specific behaviour and link it directly to specific physiological differences, introversion appears to be a large number of conditions, none of which need to coincide in one individual for them to be seen to be an introvert. We need to replace the one introvert-extrovert definition with all of the more precise sub-divisions.
To prove that I am an introvert, I went through the book and found 47 positive things that are stated to correlate to introversion. These easy generalisations spoil the book, turning it from being a valuable scholarly endeavour to being a populist one-half-of-a-crowd pleaser.