Saturday, March 31

Quiet by Susan Cain


We often pride ourselves on being able to identify certain types of people.  This is especially true of extroversion and introversion.  We use terms like ‘shy’, ‘quiet,’ ‘a people person,’ ‘outgoing,’ and ‘talkative’ to describe them, usually knowing that these terms point to introverts and extroverts.  What we’re not as good at is recognize why people react certain ways and when it is better to act introverted or when it is better to act extroverted.

Susan Cain subtitled her book, “The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.”  An introvert herself, her main focus is introversion.   One of the key factors in determining what someone is, is their level of sensitivity.  Introverts, she writes, are more sensitive to stimuli and more easily overwhelmed.  She explains that this is why introverts prefer interacting with smaller groups of people, tend to not enjoy public speaking as much, and tend to prefer working in environments with less external noise.  An important thing to note here: When Susan writes about qualities typically embodied in introverts they are often generalization.  In many people they may be true, but it others it will be false.  Some introverts are perfectly fine with public speaking while some extroverts have terrible stage fright.


Throughout her book, Susan uses many case studies of introverts and extroverts.  Some of them are well known, such as her opening look at Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks.  Other people she highlights are everyday people, such as a couple in which one is extroverted and one is introverted.

One of Susan’s fears is that in culture’s such as America, extroversion is held on too high a pedestal.  More schools are moving to group based learning, extroverted leaders are assumed to be stronger leaders who people will follow.  Introverts are too often described as shy, which is not always accurate, but nonetheless widely used.  This isn’t to say that introverts should be held above extroverts, but Susan argues that both are needed.

She recounts several studies throughout the book, such as one that showed extroverted groups led by an introverted leader had high productivity than introverted groups with an extroverted leader.  She also has a chapter on group think and the dangers that it presents, especially since many environments are moving to meetings and group work for major decisions.

She also looks at introverts/extroverts in the church, in businesses, and in school rooms.  She gives some ideas to introverts on how to act in situations where they feel out of their comfort zone as well as how to understand extroverts.  She also gives ideas to extroverts on how to understand, and accommodate when needed, introverts.   One ‘side’ is not better than the other, but each should give and take.

I don’t often list a book as a ‘must-read,’ however this is the closest a book has come in a while.  If you’re looking to better understand extroverts, or especially introverts, then I highly recommend this book.  If you’re already very well read on the subject then the book may not be as interesting, but this is the first book I have read on the subject and I found it fascinating.

Really, the biggest down side the book is the ugly cover, but I won’t hold that against it.

4.5/5 stars

I received this book free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group as part of their Blogging for Books program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255

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