Sep 19, 2012

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

Book 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.

I first realized I was an introvert during my high school sociology class. I was in grade eleven and it came as a bit of a surprise. I know this seems pretty late in the game to realize such a thing, but I'm very close to the middle of the introvert/extrovert scale. At the time, I felt a kind of shame about it. It's should not be a surprise to anyone that in the western world being extroverted is the ideal that is prased. Since then, I've come to terms with my introvertedness  and try to work with it rather that fight against it.

I didn't find this book life affirming or anything, but I imagine it could be for someone who isn't comfortable with their introverted selves. Especially if they are a "classic introvert" if you know what I mean. Close your eyes and picture an introvert. I assume we're both picturing something similar - mousy and quiet, likes spending time alone. Obviously, not every introvert is that intovert. I'm not that introvert. And the book does make that clear. But I suspect that introvert will see themselves reflected in the pages of this book more than I did.

And that's ok. Even if you're not introverted in the least, you still could enjoy this book. It's full of feel good stories of innovation and success. It has tons of psychology and science. Also, lots of general awesomeness. Plus, maybe you'll understand the introverts in your life. And better understanding can never be a bad thing, right?

On a scale from Totally Awesome to Horrifically Awful I'd give it an Extremely Awesome. Informative, interesting, engaging and well written - this is just an all around excellent book.


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