Sunday, November 12, 2017

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

Montgomery, Alabama. ~ Opening of Quiet


Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain
Crown, 2012
Nonfiction; 370 pgs
Source: I purchased a copy for my own reading pleasure.
Goodreads Summary: 
At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over working in teams. It is to introverts—Rosa Parks, Chopin, Dr. Seuss, Steve Wozniak—that we owe many of the great contributions to society.

In
Quiet, Susan Cain argues that we dramatically undervalue introverts and shows how much we lose in doing so. She charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal throughout the twentieth century and explores how deeply it has come to permeate our culture. She also 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. Passionately argued, superbly researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how they see themselves.

When Quiet first came out in in 2012, I was very excited. American society has often placed more value on extroversion than it has on introversion. People who are quick on their feet, outgoing and are energized by socializing seem to be a step ahead of those of us who are more thoughtful, analytical and tend to need time alone to reboot.

I have always been the more reflective type, preferring to observe what is going on around me before joining in. I feel drained in social situations, rather than energized. I need my alone time to regroup and focus. I do better when I work on my own than in a team setting. And I prefer small groups to large crowds. I am a more private person, and am very introspective. I hate talking on the phone and do not have much patience for small talk.  The list could go on and on. My introversion runs deep.

The agency I work for recently adopted Gallup's employee engagement theory based on focusing on strengths to increase performance. It wasn't a surprise when I took the strengths survey that my top five strengths, particularly three of them, fall distinctly onto the introverted side. I like the idea of focusing on strengths rather than weaknesses. And to see some of my more introverted traits in a strength-based light has been validating in more ways than one. American culture pushes extroversion from the day we are born (it's even pushed in schools as early as elementary school), and introversion is seen more as a weakness.

What I loved about Susan Cain's book is how it completely flips the idea that extroversion is better on its ear. Through extensive research, time and time again, Cain shows how, throughout history, introverted traits have benefited business and society. Her book is full of examples of introverts shining. She also goes into how introverts have adapted in an extroverted society, sometimes able to fake it with the best of them--but it can take a toll. She also discusses how there is no perfect cookie cutter definition of an introverted and extroverted person. While some traits tend to be more recognized as one or the other, there are social introverts and their are quiet extroverts. And what of ambiverts, who fall more in the middle of the spectrum, with both introverted and extroverted traits?

I especially found it interesting how different cultures view introversion and extroversion. Asian countries tend to value introversion more, for example, whereas the Western world places more value in extroversion.

Quiet was more focused on business, especially in the early chapters, than I expected, and there is a definite bias toward introversion in the book. I expected that, of course (I mean, just look at the title of the book!), but even though Cain says both are equal, extroversion didn't come out as being in the best of light. I wouldn't have minded a bit more balance in that regard.

I came away from Susan Cain's book feeling even more pride in my introversion than when I started; although, I admit it is hard to completely get rid of those old feelings of wishing I were more the kind of person who was at ease in social situations and more impulsive at times.

To learn more about Susan Cain and her work, please visit the author on the author's website


© 2017, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

24 comments:

  1. Sounds like a fascinating read! I agree that introversion is underrated in our society.

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    1. Eustacia - It really is. Even from a young age, we're pushed to be social and a big risk taker. That doesn't always equate greatness though.

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  2. I'm adding Quiet to my list. I've always been an introvert, needing quiet time after each social interaction. Anxiety always precedes a social occasion--even when I know I'll enjoy it. Then there is the period of regrouping. Funny, though, that my friends are often extroverts that prevent me from too much isolation. :)

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    1. Jenclair - I get the same way before social occasions. I hope you like this one if you do read it. I find I am surrounded by extroverts too--although my husband is introverted like me, which is nice (but can also have its disadvantages).

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  3. I have long been wanting to read this book!

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    1. Jeane - I wish I hadn't waited so long, but I am glad I finally took the plunge. I hope you enjoy it when you get to it.

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  4. When I was reading this review I had words echoing in my head that someone spoke to me yesterday: "Sometimes the biggest bravery is remaining quiet".

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    1. Jo - Such a true quote! It keeps us out of trouble.

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  5. I really enjoyed this as well Wendy -- your Introverted Blogging Friend:)

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    1. Diane - We introverts have to stick together. :-)

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  6. As an introvert myself, I loved the validation I got from reading this book. ;D

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  7. I loved this book. I felt more normal after reading it.

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    1. Ellen - Yes, it's nice to know that we're "normal" and not lacking because we aren't more outgoing or impulsive or big risk takers.

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  8. Sounds like a promising read for the introverts amongst us, I'm glad that the author shares examples of us (yes, I include myself) shining.

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    1. Tracy - It was nice to see introverts painted in such a positive light.

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  9. This sounds fascinating and a good book to keep in mind for nonfiction November! I think I lean more towards being an introvert so I think I would enjoy this read. Great review, Wendy!

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    1. Iliana - I think it would be a great one to read for Nonfiction November. :-) Thank you!

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  10. This book has been on my to-read list for a while now. But something that put me off slightly was that soon after it's release and her engaging TED talk, I noticed an uptick of people claiming to be introverts...and shouting it from the rooftops in a most un-introverted way. Lol!
    I agree that it seemed a bit biased, too. I got the impression of a bit of insinuation that the extroverted are in some way not as smart as introverts because they can't sit down for long enough to ponder things deeply.
    It was high-time though that in our extrovert-skewed reality nowadays, an important book gave a voice to those who don't mind not speaking out all the time but who would prefer for their voices not to be ignored when they do speak out simply because they do not do it loudly or often enough.
    The book remains on my list :-)

    Great blog by the way!

    Check out mine if you get a minute:

    https://allthebookswelove.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. Adaure - It is nice to be validated. I agree with you; the bias is definitely there but it it was also, as you said, high-time that introversion have a strong voice out there too. While I'm sure age and experience has helped, I do think this book played a small part in my being able to own my introversion and be proud of it--and that was even before I read it. Just knowing it was out there.

      And thank you! I will definitely check out your blog.

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  11. Yep, I'm an introvert too. This sounds interesting and I'll keep this book in mind when the mood calls for it.

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    1. Melody - I think many of us book bloggers are. :-)

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  12. I need to pull this off the shelves. I'd love to know the ways being an introvert could help me!

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    1. Lisa - I wish I had read it closer to when it came out. I know this is relevant even today, but I think it might have had a bigger impact on me back then. Just the idea of the book back then and all the talk surrounding it was enough to influence how I saw myself--and I became more comfortable with being an introvert.

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