Thursday, January 12, 2012

Quiet: The Power Of Introverts In A World That Can't Stop Talking By Susan Cain

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

Quiet: The Power Of Introverts In A World That Can't Stop Talking By Susan Cain

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Product Description

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 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."

This extraordinary book has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how introverts see themselves.

Product Details
  • Amazon Sales Rank: #338 in Books
  • Published on: 2012-01-24
  • Released on: 2012-01-24
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Dimensions: 9.55" h x 1.19" w x 6.42" l, 1.24 pounds
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • 352 pages
Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review
Amazon Best Books of the Month, January 2012: How many introverts do you know? The real answer will probably surprise you. In our culture, which emphasizes group work from elementary school through the business world, everything seems geared toward extroverts. Luckily, introverts everywhere have a new spokesperson: Susan Cain, a self-proclaimed introvert who's taken it upon herself to better understand the place of introverts in culture and society. With Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, Cain explores introversion through psychological research old and new, personal experiences, and even brain chemistry, in an engaging and highly-readable fashion. By delving into introversion, Cain also seeks to find ways for introverts and extroverts to better understand one another--and for introverts to understand their own contradictions, such as the ability to act like extroverts in certain situations. Highly accessible and uplifting for any introvert--and any extrovert who knows an introvert (and over one-third of us are introverts)--Quiet has the potential to revolutionize the "extrovert ideal." –Malissa Kent

 
Amazon Exclusive: Q & A with Author Susan Cain

Q: Why did you write the book?
A: For the same reason that Betty Friedan published The Feminine Mystique in 1963. Introverts are to extroverts what women were to men at that time--second-class citizens with gigantic amounts of untapped talent. Our schools, workplaces, and religious institutions are designed for extroverts, and many introverts believe that there is something wrong with them and that they should try to "pass" as extroverts. The bias against introversion leads to a colossal waste of talent, energy, and, ultimately, happiness.

Q: What personal significance does the subject have for you?
A: When I was in my twenties, I started practicing corporate law on Wall Street. At first I thought I was taking on an enormous challenge, because in my mind, the successful lawyer was comfortable in the spotlight, whereas I was introverted and occasionally shy. But I soon realized that my nature had a lot of advantages: I was good at building loyal alliances, one-on-one, behind the scenes; I could close my door, concentrate, and get the work done well; and like many introverts, I tended to ask a lot of questions and listen intently to the answers, which is an invaluable tool in negotiation. I started to realize that there's a lot more going on here than the cultural stereotype of the introvert-as-unfortunate would have you believe. I had to know more, so I spent the past five years researching the powers of introversion.

Q: Was there ever a time when American society valued introverts more highly?
A: In the nation's earlier years it was easier for introverts to earn respect. America once embodied what the cultural historian Warren Susman called a "Culture of Character," which valued inner strength, integrity, and the good deeds you performed when no one was looking. You could cut an impressive figure by being quiet, reserved, and dignified. Abraham Lincoln was revered as a man who did not "offend by superiority," as Emerson put it.

Q: You discuss how we can better embrace introverts in the workplace. Can you explain?
A: Introverts thrive in environments that are not overstimulating—surroundings in which they can think (deeply) before they speak. This has many implications. Here are two to consider: (1) Introverts perform best in quiet, private workspaces—but unfortunately we're trending in precisely the opposite direction, toward open-plan offices. (2) If you want to get the best of all your employees' brains, don't simply throw them into a meeting and assume you're hearing everyone's ideas. You're not; you're hearing from the most vocally assertive people. Ask people to put their ideas in writing before the meeting, and make sure you give everyone time to speak.

Q: Quiet offers some terrific insights for the parents of introverted children. What environment do introverted kids need in order to thrive, whether it's at home or at school?
A: The best thing parents and teachers can do for introverted kids is to treasure them for who they are, and encourage their passions. This means: (1) Giving them the space they need. If they need to recharge alone in their room after school instead of plunging into extracurricular activities, that's okay. (2) Letting them master new skills at their own pace. If they're not learning to swim in group settings, for example, teach them privately. (3) Not calling them "shy"--they'll believe the label and experience their nervousness as a fixed trait rather than an emotion they can learn to control.

Q: What are the advantages to being an introvert?
A: There are too many to list in this short space, but here are two seemingly contradictory qualities that benefit introverts: introverts like to be alone--and introverts enjoy being cooperative. Studies suggest that many of the most creative people are introverts, and this is partly because of their capacity for quiet. Introverts are careful, reflective thinkers who can tolerate the solitude that idea-generation requires. On the other hand, implementing good ideas requires cooperation, and introverts are more likely to prefer cooperative environments, while extroverts favor competitive ones.

Review

"An intriguing and potentially life-altering examination of the human psyche that is sure to benefit both introverts and extroverts alike."
--Kirkus, Starred Review

"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

"In this well-written, unusually thoughtful book, Cain encourages solitude seekers to see themselves anew: not as wallflowers but as powerful forces to be reckoned with."
--Whole Living

"Those who value a quiet, reflective life will feel a burden lifting from their shoulders as they read Susan Cain's eloquent and well documented paean to introversion--and will no longer feel guilty or inferior for having made the better choice!"
--MIHALY CSIKSZENTMIHALYI, author of Flow and Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Management, Claremont Graduate University
 
"Superbly researched, deeply insightful, and a fascinating read, Quiet is an indispensable resource for anyone who wants to understand the gifts of the introverted half of the population."
--GRETCHEN RUBIN, author of The Happiness Project

"Quiet is a book of liberation from old ideas about the value of introverts. Cain's intelligence, respect for research, and vibrant prose put Quiet in an elite class with the best books from Malcolm Gladwell, Daniel Pink, and other masters of psychological non-fiction."
--TERESA AMABILE, Professor, Harvard Business School, and coauthor, The Progress Principle

"As an introvert often called upon to behave like an extrovert, I found the information in this book revealing and helpful. Drawing on neuroscientific research and many case reports, Susan Cain explains the advantages and potentials of introversion and of being quiet in a noisy world."
--ANDREW WEIL, author of Healthy Aging and Spontaneous Happiness
 
"Susan Cain has done a superb job of sifting through decades of complex research on introversion, extroversion, and sensitivity--this book will be a boon for the many highly sensitive people who are also introverts."
--ELAINE ARON, author of The Highly Sensitive Person

"Quiet legitimizes and even celebrates the 'niche' that represents half the people in the world."
--GUY KAWASAKI, author of Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions
 
"Susan Cain is the definer of a new and valuable paradigm. In this moving and original argument, she makes the case that we are losing immense reserves of talent and vision because of our culture's overvaluation of extroversion. A startling, important, and readable page-turner that will make quiet people see themselves in a whole new light."
--NAOMI WOLF, author of The Beauty Myth
 
"Superb…A compelling reflection on how the Extrovert Ideal shapes our lives and why this is deeply unsettling. Based on meticulous research, it will open up a new and different conversation on how the personal is political and how we need to empower the legions of people who are disposed to be quiet, reflective, and sensitive."
--BRIAN R. LITTLE, PH.D., Distinguished Scholar, Department of Social and Developmental Psychology, Cambridge University 
 
"Quiet elevates the conversation about introverts in our outwardly-oriented society to new heights. I think that many introverts will discover that, even though they didn't know it, they have been waiting for this book all their lives."
--ADAM S. MCHUGH, author of Introverts in the Church
 
"Gentle is powerful... Solitude is socially productive... These important counter-intuitive ideas are among the many reasons to take Quiet to a quiet corner and absorb its brilliant, thought-provoking message."
--ROSABETH MOSS KANTER, Harvard Business School professor, author of Confidence and SuperCorp
 
"Memo to all you glad-handing, back-slapping, brainstorming masters of the universe out there: Stop networking and talking for a minute and read this book. In Quiet, Susan Cain does an eloquent and powerful job of extolling the virtues of the listeners and the thinkers--the reflective introverts of the world who appreciate that hard problems demand careful thought and who understand that it's a good idea to know what you want to say before you open your mouth."
--BARRY SCHWARTZ, author of Practical Wisdom and The Paradox of Choice

About the Author

SUSAN CAIN is a writer whose work on introversion and shyness has appeared in the New York Times and on PsychologyToday.com. She has taught negotiation skills at corporations, law firms, and universities and practiced corporate law for seven years. An honors graduate of Princeton and Harvard Law School, Susan lives in the Hudson River Valley with her husband and two sons.

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews

129 of 135 people found the following review helpful.
5"Those who know do not speak. Those who speak do not know." -- Lao Zi
By Misanthrope™
First, look at this list from pg 5 in the introduction to this book:

"Without introverts, the world would be devoid of

the theory of gravity
the theory of relativity
W.B. Yeats's 'The Second Coming'
Chopin's nocturnes
Proust's 'In Search of Lost Time'
Peter Pan
Orwell's '1984' and 'Animal Farm'
The Cat in the Hat
Charlie Brown
'Schindler's List,' 'E.T.,' and 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind'
Google
Harry Potter"

Of course, that is only a tiny list of the accomplishments of introverts. Let's face it. One cannot expect people handicapped with extroversion to be able to think deeply or meditate over the serious philosophical, scientific, or supremely artistic subjects which move the deeper among us.

Okay, maybe extroversion is not a handicap, but it is important to realize that introversion is no more a handicap than extroversion. So, the extroverts deserve a retaliatory jab once in a while for treating introverts as though we are mentally and socially challenged.

This book by Susan Cain is the ultimate jab, though she is sometimes overnice toward the ones that have promoted "The Extrovert Ideal" for more than a century in the U.S. I do not believe I have read any better work dealing with the issue of personality than "Quiet."

There are some scientific points to be made in the book, with mention of studies that show how introversion or extroversion are biologically, genetically ingrained in us, though some of the studies (particularly the one mentioning literal "thin skin") strike me as somewhat irrelevant if not pseudoscientific. Some of the best information has to do with twin studies, particularly notable for showing the error of "blank slate" theory. See also The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature by Steven Pinker. I am a little puzzled there was no mention of Pinker in this book, even in the footnotes.

I am tempted to go through all of the subjects covered in this book and give a summary, but better than that is the list of thoughts from Susan Cain's blog, which will give an idea of the thrust of the book:

1. There's a word for "people who are in their heads too much": thinkers.

2. Our culture rightly admires risk-takers, but we need our "heed-takers" more than ever.

3. Solitude is a catalyst for innovation.

4. Texting is popular because in an overly extroverted society, everyone craves asynchronyous, non-F2F communication.

5. We teach kids in group classrooms not because this is the best way to learn but because it's cost-efficient, and what else would we do with the children while all the grown-ups are at work? If your child prefers to work autonomously and socialize one-on-one, there's nothing wrong with her; she just happens not to fit the model.

6. The next generation of quiet kids can and should be raised to know their own strength.

7. Sometimes it helps to be a pretend-extrovert. There's always time to be quiet later.

8. But in the long run, staying true to your temperament is the key to finding work you love and work that matters.

9. Everyone shines, given the right lighting. For some, it's a Broadway spotlight, for others, a lamplit desk.

10. Rule of thumb for networking events: one genuine new relationship is worth a fistful of business cards.

11. It's OK to cross the street to avoid making small talk.

12. "Quiet leadership" is not an oxymoron.

13. The universal longing for heaven is not about immortality so much as the wish for a world in which everyone is always kind.

14. If the task of the first half of life is to put yourself out there, the task of the second half is to make sense of where you've been.

15. Love is essential, gregariousness is optional.

16."In a gentle way, you can shake the world." - Gandhi

The last thing I would like to convey is that I am happy I read this book, because being an introvert all of one's life can be difficult in modern U.S. culture. Being treated as a freak because of the personality characteristics introversion entails is unfortunate. Extroverts have it good right now, and frequently get the best rewards, even when an introvert is the one that deserves those rewards, value being placed on personality rather than merit, but it helps introverts to know we have superior characteristics, and should not regret them.

73 of 76 people found the following review helpful.
4Good book but not the whole picture
By Jo Ryan
I very much enjoyed this book and thought it did a great job of presenting much research about introverts, but as an introvert myself I think it missed part of the whole picture. The author strongly emphasizes being QUIET when I just don't think all introverts are that way. Some, such as Steve Martin, can be quite talkative, dramatic, and gregarious in the right settings and don't have fears of public speaking such as the ones the author wrote so much about.

It's very possible to have a rich inner life, not want over-stimulation from the environment, and desire plenty of self (or down) time and privacy and yet often be quite outwardly stimulating oneself--i.e. dynamic, dramatic, expressive--as opposed to shy, inhibited, and quiet in many personal and public settings. I think many writers, actors, and artists can be very talkative with intimates and in their work--i.e. talking about their ideas and feelings long into the night with trusted others or putting on quite a 'show' for others--but the author, who focuses so much on examples from the business world, never really delves into this very expressive and yet introverted type.

Though this book is interesting, encouraging, and well-written, I think I would prefer one less informed by so many personal experiences in the world of Wall Street and Harvard business and more based on the scientific study of introversion with analysis and examples of various subtypes and their presence in various walks of life.

40 of 46 people found the following review helpful.
5Fantastic Book on Important Topic
By Book Fanatic
I loved this book! It's all about introverts in a culture that celebrates extroversion. We have a personality worshiping culture and the new social media has only made it worse. Everyone on Facebook is a performer. Despite 1/3 to 1/2 of the population being introverts, everything in our culture from parenting to school to work to socializing celebrates and rewards extroversion. Some of the most creative and brilliant creators and thinkers in history were introverts. The theme of this work is that introverts have a great deal to offer the world and that we are making a mistake by not accommodating and encouraging this important personality type.

This is a compelling and very well-written book. I hope it will do very well. The author is raising very important points and has done so in a well researched and thoughtful work. I highly recommend this book and don't think you will be disappointed. Two very big thumbs up!

This book doesn't have the "look inside" feature so I offer the following TOC so you can get an idea what it contains.

Part One: The Extrovert Ideal

1. The Rise of the "Mighty Likeable Fellow": How Extroversion Became the Cultural Ideal
2. The Myth of Charismatic Leadership: The Culture of Personality, a Hundred Years Later
3. When Collaboration Kills Creativity: The Rise of the New Groupthink, and the Power of Working Alone

Part Two: Your Biology, Your Self?

4. Is Temperament Destiny?: Nature, Nurture, and the Orchid Hypothesis
5. Beyond Temperament: The Role of Free Will (and the Secret of Public Speaking for Introverts)
6. Franklin Was a Politician, But Eleanor Spoke out of Conscience: Why Cool Is Overrated
7. Why Did Wall Street Crash and Warren Buffet Prosper?: How Introverts and Extroverts Think (and Process Dopamine) Differently

Part Three: Do All Cultures Have an Extrovert Ideal?

8: Soft Power: The Wind Howls but the Mountain Remains Still

Part Four: How to Love, How to Work

9. When Should You Act More Extroverted Than You Really Are?
10. The Communication Gap: How to Talk to Members of the Opposite... Type
11. On Cobblers and Generals: How to Cultivate Quiet Kids in a World That Can't Hear Them

Conclusion: Wonderland

 
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