The ability to socialize freely and proficiently in a foreign environment is a valuable skill that “at least one-third of the people we know” are either reluctant or unfitted to pursue. However, according to Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, the social ambivalence that correlates with introversion is a much more minor issue than perceived by many of today’s intellects. Her work not only outlines the advantages of introverted behavior but provides “convincing evidence for valuing substance over style, steak over sizzle, and prizing qualities that are, in America, often derided.”
As an introvert herself, Cain shares personal experiences and firsthand investigations to express discontent with the “extrovert ideal.” This evolutionary attitude became apparent during what cultural historian Warren Susman describes as a shift from a culture of character (where good deeds are valued by society) to a culture of personality (where societal admiration goes to the charismatic).
Her experimental findings emphasize the positive aspects of introversion. Throughout Quiet, Cain diagnoses behavioral tendencies and assesses the potential of certain personality types. She also introduces readers to some of the most successful introverts in history, including Albert Einstein and Eleanor Roosevelt.
There’s a word for “people who are in their heads too much”: thinkers.
For decades, self-help gurus have written countless best-selling tomes promising to “fix” introverts by changing them into extroverts. But in Quiet, Cain explains the detrimental consequences of such irrational and inherently self-defeating efforts.
While Cain concentrates on the power and the vitality of introverts, she in no way undervalues the significance of sociability. She is quick to point out that her husband and many of her best friends are extroverts, and she deftly straddles the fence, careful to avoid siding with one personality type over another. As the title of her book suggests, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking is meant to make people more aware of introverted potential in primarily extroverted environments.
Based on years of research and scientific inquiry, Quiet eloquently addresses the bias against introverts and provides previously unacknowledged agency to those of subtler personalities. From Saddleback Church in California to Harvard Business School, Cain travels an extraordinary distance and absorbs her readers in all of her intricate observations along the way. Quiet is an excellent read that will surely change your opinion of the relationship between introverts and extroverts.
Graduate of Princeton and Harvard Law School, Cain has published a number of works on introverted behavior. After the release of Quiet, she appeared as a featured speaker on TEDTalks: Ideas Worth Spreading, thus propelling her to a number of other speaking opportunities all over the world. You can visit Cain at her blog, ThePowerofIntroverts.com, or view her TED lecuture “The Power of Introverts.”
Click here to take the “Are You an Introvert?” quiz, excerpted from Quiet, and find out where you fall on the introvert-extrovert spectrum.