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.Read more...
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David B. Agus
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.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2011-10-31
- Reviewer: Staff
While American culture and business tend to be dominated by extroverts, business consultant Cain explores and champions the one-third to one-half of the population who are introverts. She defines the term broadly, including “solitude-seeking” and “contemplative,” but also “sensitive,” “humble,” and “risk-averse.” Such individuals, she claims (though with insufficient evidence), are “disproportionately represented among the ranks of the spectacularly creative.” Yet the American school and workplace make it difficult for those who draw strength from solitary musing by over-emphasizing teamwork and what she calls “the new Groupthink.” Cain gives excellent portraits of a number of introverts and shatters misconceptions. For example, she notes, introverts can negotiate as well as, or better than, alpha males and females because they can take a firm stand “without inflaming counterpart’s ego.” Cain provides tips to parents and teachers of children who are introverted or seem socially awkward and isolated. She suggests, for instance, exposing them gradually to new experiences that are otherwise overstimulating. Cain consistently holds the reader’s interest by presenting individual profiles, looking at places dominated by extroverts (Harvard Business School) and introverts (a West Coast retreat center), and reporting on the latest studies. Her diligence, research, and passion for this important topic has richly paid off. (Jan.)
Not with a bang but with a whisper
Maybe you lack the instinct for self-promotion. Maybe you can’t muster your employer’s rah-rah-rah-sis-boom-bah attitude. Maybe you’d rather stay home and read a novel instead of going out to the party of the year. So? Something’s the matter with you, and you should feel ashamed, right?
Wrong, says Susan Cain, author of Quiet, a vigorous, brainy and highly engaging defense of introversion. A self-proclaimed introvert herself, Cain examines in the first part of her book how our one-time “Culture of Character,” which gave roughly balanced respect to the positive characteristics of both introverts and extroverts, shifted to our contemporary “Culture of Personality,” a culture of marketing and self-marketing that almost exclusively (and to our peril) favors the risk-takers, the quick-decision-makers: in short, the extroverts.
Drawing on cultural histories and fascinating recent research in psychology and brain-function science, Cain challenges such misconceptions as “the myth of charismatic leadership,” the utility of group brainstorming and the idea that introversion is the result of bad parenting instead of an innate personality characteristic. “Probably the most common—and damaging— misunderstanding about personality types is that introverts are antisocial and extroverts are pro-social,” she writes. “But as we’ve seen, neither formulation is correct; introverts and extroverts are differently social.” In the final section of her book, she offers sensible advice on strategies that introverts can use to succeed in a society that operates within a value system she calls the “Extrovert Ideal”—without betraying their essential selves.
Cain enlivens her discussion with road trips and case studies. She skeptically enrolls in a seminar given by Tony Robbins, who is probably the extrovert ideal incarnate. She visits students and professors at Harvard Business School and Asian-American students in Silicon Valley. She cites the experiences of Rosa Parks and Mohandas Gandhi. She interviews husbands and wives, parents and children.
Cain says her “primary concern is the age-old dichotomy between the ‘man of action’ and the ‘man of contemplation,’ and how we could improve the world if only there was a greater balance of power between the two types.” Hers is surely an argument worth talking about.