Cheryl in CC NV's Reviews > Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

Quiet by Susan Cain
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Jul 05, 12

Read from April 13 to 16, 2012

Bottom line - well-researched, carefully presented, entertaining, and very important to teachers, parents, bosses, introverts, and extroverts. Not perfect, but highly recommended.


So far so enchanting. But then, I scored 20/20 introvert on the quiz in the introduction, so I'm biased.

I can tell it's not going to be a perfect book, as it's easy to nitpick about the science and the objectivity of the author. But it's an important book. It's crucial that we all realize that those who can talk fastest and have the most energy to sell themselves aren't necessarily the ones with the best ideas.

And that much we do already know, if we stop to think about it. The trick is to remember to stop and think. How does an introverted evangelist stick up for himself and his ideas? How does an extroverted teacher slow down and get everyone to listen to the quieter students? How does a manager set up a work environment so that people can have productive quiet time and also opportunities for collaboration? How can we get it understood that brainstorming doesn't work, for extroverts or for introverts?

ETA - Done.

Ok, not a hardcore science book. As she admits, regularly. For example she conflates 'high reactivity' & 'sensitivity' & introversion. Well, ok, for me, yes, all three perspectives fit. But (as she admits) they aren't quite synonymous, and some folks find some of those labels better fit than others.

One correlation she does de-connect is introversion and shyness. Yes, certainly, lots of people are both introverted and shy. But just because a person *prefers* to avoid meeting new people and hanging out at parties does *not* define him as shy. *Parents need to be aware of this.* Labeling a child as shy instead of focusing on her ability to concentrate and her mindfulness is *not* helpful.

I was lucky - my parents pretty much let me forge my own way on the upper levels of Maslow's hierarchy, while making sure I was cared for in re the lower levels. But now I'm married to someone who has been an extrovert most of his life, and only lately maturing* into in a 'Quieter' person. And though he means well, he just doesn't understand how sensitive and easily exhausted by stimuli I am.

If he read this book, he'd get a clue, and so would parents, managers, extroverts, teachers, and evangelists. But I won't push him to read it. As I wrote earlier, it's not perfect. I suspect an even better book is being written as I type. However, I am giving it five stars, because if you've read my comments this far, I believe that you're sufficiently vested to benefit from reading this. Especially, but not necessarily, if you're introvert. It really does help one to know that s/he is not alone - and this book did that for me.

*Cain informed us that people who are past their prime child-bearing years tend to exhibit behaviors more associated with introversion, as we are no longer in such an all-fired hurry to sow our wild oats. "If the task of the first half of life is to put yourself out there, the task of the second half is to make sense of where you've been."

And now for some reports from the book darts:

Cain summarized the paradox of "The bus to Abilene." Rather than quote, I'll direct you to an unrelated but interesting web-page that explains and discusses it at more length.

Here are three likely reasons why group brainstorming is actually *not* effective. For explanations, see the book. 1. Social loafing. 2. Production blocking. 3. Evaluation apprehension.

Here's a point Cain made that I disagree with. She's specifically using an example about how to make speed dating more effective. She says that you should ask "What was your last embarrassing experience?" and "watch very carefully for lip-presses, blushing, and averted eyes." "... you want to make sure that your spouse cares what other people think. It's better to mind too much than to mind too little." Um, not sure that's good advice for those of us who are sensitive. Lots of us work very hard to claim our needs and our identities against an upbringing of guilt and shame. And some of us don't commit significant gaffes - especially introverts who allow themselves the time to think before they act. My last embarrassing moment? I pulled towards my place the remains of my son's birthday cake instead of the slice he'd cut for me. Oops, yes. Giggle, sure, But blush and avert my eyes? Be embarrassed enough to be disturbed by what other people think? Not so much.

Well, back to simple interesting things Cain shared. A study in which robots aided stroke patients in rehab revealed that those programmed to be gently encouraging, saying things like "Very nice, keep up the good work" were more effective for introverts, whereas extroverts benefited more by interacting with those programmed to be more "bracing" that said stuff like "You can do more than that, I know it!"

Cain discussed at fair length a very loving married couple who were having difficulty because he's very extroverted and she's very introverted. During fights, his instinct was to be loud and to talk fast and show his anger, because it seemed to him that he was being honest and passionate and showing how much he cared. She would make herself remain calm and quiet, trying to be respectful. He felt as if she was withdrawing and signalling that she didn't much care; she felt that he was attacking her. Cain was able to help the couple not only realize what was going on, but use that information to communicate better and even to reach a truly workable compromise in their specific lifestyle issue.

One important thing we all need to learn, the husband above especially, is that venting one's anger is *not* cathartic. "Scores of studies have shown that venting doesn't soother anger; it fuels it." Again, read the book for more about how to benefit from that knowledge.

"Introversion is very different from Asperger's syndrome... both can involve feeling overwhelmed in social settings... but introverts often have very strong social skills." Yes, even if they're labeled as 'shy.' Introverts tend to be almost too empathetic.

Well ok. I'm tired of all this writing, and if you're like me you're tired of this long set of comments masquerading as a review. I'll shut up and let you read the book.
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Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

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Cheryl in CC NV I think the message of this book is one we members of goodreads can especially appreciate. Many avid readers, that is to say, active users of goodreads, tend towards introversion. Many entrepreneurs, that is to say, the dynamos that built this site, tend towards extroversion.

And so when they come up with some exciting new feature like the group home pages' enhanced ability to host images and video, they're proud, and we're frustrated.

message 2: by Sheila (new)

Sheila I've had my eye on this one for awhile, as I would consider myself a total introvert. I think your comments about Goodreads and their extroverted "improvements" hit the nail on the head!

Cheryl in CC NV tx - watch for my actual review when finish :)

message 4: by Diane (new)

Diane Very interesting, although I may get enough from this great review so I won't read the book. If you asked 100 people, probably 100 would say I am an extreme extrovert. If you look at my Myers-Briggs scores, it will say I am an introvert but fairly close to the low end of extrovert. Of course, I am old and I think we do learn a lot as we go through life so maybe labels don't work so well for me anymore. I liked the link to the Trip to Abilene. I used that movie short as training when I was working - trying to be sure my staff did not play along when they didn't want to. I certainly got myself into difficulties a number of times by saying what I meant, but in the long run I think it was always worth it. I also know that I am much more extroverted in my mind than in practice, unless it is my role to be extroverted and then I can be pretty out there (my kids might say obnoxious?). Again, this has changed over time. The other thing that changed my introversion to extroversion is dancing - I am a total extrovert when there any chance to dance. Thanks for the review.

Cheryl in CC NV I like your comment better than the book. *Thank you* for sharing. You definitely don't need to read it - you've got it better figured out than Cain does! I learn so much from your reviews and your comments on mine.

Whispers from the Pirate's Ghost Whisper I love the review Cheryl! (and, I appriciate the length!) I heard an expert at customer service give an interesting description of the difference between Introverts and Extroverts. It has to do with how they charge their batteries. (She was specifically refering to people, like me, who are one way naturally, but had to learn to function like the other one. At the core this is how you tell the difference: The Extrovert relaxes and even feels, if not rested, revived, when he gets to be around other people. The Introvert, no matter how much he's developed into a presenter or talker goes home locks the door and feels like he's resting when alone with a book, movie or computer. (for me, I had to learn to act like an extrovert when they put me in charge of a 70 man division (Leading Petty officer) and later as an Instructor and now a counselor (who also gives presentations). I'm really an Introvert at heart.

Love the review. I'm going to have to find a way to read this one. That's great! I can do that.

Cheryl in CC NV Yes - I can't imagine that being around other people would be relaxing or revivifying - good way to draw a distinction!

message 8: by Bob (new) - rated it 1 star

Bob Gustafson Hmm. This is interesting, particularly in view of your comments on writing reviews.

Using the test given in the book, I am an ambivert.
I have read only the preface and two other chapters. The preface was discouraging. It told us that the book would be a whine. Chapter one was good. It gave some objective information regarding the history of her subject. Chapter two said that introverts are good and extroverts are bad. Discouraging.

I will continue nevertheless. My niece and I are reading it together.

Cheryl in CC NV Heh, well, yeah, the premise is that introverts are under-appreciated, so it does come across as biased against extroverts sometimes, which is one of the things that makes it imperfect.

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