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Book Review: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Reading | Posted on 08-06-2012


Qui­et: The Pow­er of Intro­verts in a World That Can’t Stop Talk­ing by Susan Cain is the sin­gle most strik­ing book I’ve read this year. I real­ly want to talk about it with some­one else who has read it, but I don’t know any­one else who has. GoodReads says that none of my friends there have read it or marked it to-read, so I’m hop­ing to con­vince some­one else to read it by rav­ing about it.

To be hon­est, I fell upon it pure­ly by chance. I was look­ing through the library’s selec­tion of non-fic­tion audio­books that were cur­rent­ly avail­able for check-out, want­i­ng some­thing to lis­ten to while I stitched. I checked it out along with Michio Kaku’s Physics of the Future: How Sci­ence Will Shape Human Des­tiny and Our Dai­ly Lives by the Year 2100, and just hap­pened to click on Qui­et first when I was ready to start stitch­ing. Noth­ing against Kaku’s book (which I’m lis­ten­ing to when I stitch now), but I’m glad of my chance click.

I’m an intro­vert. Amer­i­ca is one of the most extro­vert­ed coun­tries in the world, and my fam­i­ly is a typ­i­cal­ly extro­vert­ed one. I’m the only intro­vert in the fam­i­ly, so my pref­er­ence for reflec­tion and need for qui­et time in order to recharge is marked­ly dif­fer­ent from the rest of the clan’s out­ward-direct­ed ways.

Intro­verts in gen­er­al are less val­ued than extro­verts, seen as being too qui­et, as some­how fail­ing, as being less social or even labeled as anti-social. But we are, as Cain points out, just dif­fer­ent­ly social. Intro­verts tend to feel things deeply, often seek­ing out the com­pa­ny of those who oth­ers belit­tle or ostra­cize in order to com­fort them. We don’t nec­es­sar­i­ly have poor social skills, but we don’t always choose to use our social skills in the same ways that an extro­vert would. We do not seek the same goals, nec­es­sar­i­ly. Intro­verts aren’t nec­es­sar­i­ly shy at all, although there are some shy intro­verts, of course.

Intro­verts can also be excel­lent lead­ers. In fact, research shows that they are bet­ter lead­ers for groups of proac­tive peo­ple than extro­verts are. Extro­verts, in con­trast, excel at lead­ing more pas­sive peo­ple.

Cain inter­views many experts, includ­ing Elaine Aron, author of The High­ly Sen­si­tive Per­son, for the book. Aron says that about 70% of HSPs are intro­verts, which I found inter­est­ing.

Of course, most peo­ple have a mix of intro­vert­ed and extro­vert­ed traits, and even the most intro­vert­ed peo­ple can put on an extro­vert mask for short peri­ods of time when nec­es­sary. I know that I can, but it is extreme­ly drain­ing.

I’ve bare­ly touched the sur­face of the points the book makes, skip­ping around a lot with­out pre­sent­ing the research or argu­ments behind the points, of course. Please, if you’re an intro­vert, read or lis­ten to this book. If you man­age or love an intro­vert, at least give a lis­ten to the abridged ver­sion. If you par­ent an intro­vert­ed child, take time to read the entire thing, as there is an entire chap­ter devot­ed to the care of intro­vert­ed chil­dren.

Comments (2)

Lois McMas­ter Bujold rec­om­mend­ed it on her MySpace blog.

I’m in good com­pa­ny, then.