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

Quiet by Susan Cain
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May 16, 12

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bookshelves: nonfiction, psychology, read-in-2012, skimmed-or-dnf
Read from April 27 to May 08, 2012

As a lifelong introvert, I was pretty excited about reading this. It was a Fortunate Find at the library, though, which means I only had a week to read it and no renewals, and with so many books on my physical "to read" shelf I ended up skimming much of this one. There wasn't really anything groundbreaking (to me--again, I am a lifelong introvert). I think most people know that despite the evidence presented through SAT scores and GPAs, people who find it easier to talk and engage with crowds are typically considered better leaders or smarter than people like myself, who practically throw up when called upon to speak in class and who interact much better one-on-one or through writing.

Introverts are like the left-handed schoolchildren of the world. Cain points out the way extroversion is presented as a plus, from preschool television programs, to elementary schools with desks in groups, to Harvard Business School, which sounds completely terrifying to me. For example, HBS has a project for all incoming students called the Subarctic Survival Situation, in which you are presented with a hypothetical plane crash and tools to survive. Students complete the project individually and then in groups. If Student A scored higher individually than the group does as a whole, everyone in the group fails. So if you've got mad survival skillz and you're too afraid to speak up over the extroverts in your group who are making it rain ideas like Benjamins in a strip club, everyone is screwed, you JERK.

I did find it interesting that introverts are more prone to sensitivity; for me, my hyper-sensitive responses to certain scenarios were always credited to a psychological problem and often attempted to be treated with medication. I have come far enough in my knowledge of my psychological state to differentiate now when I am being hyper-sensitive due to depression or anxiety and when I am just feeling something very acutely, but this information would've saved me a lot of grief if I'd known it six or seven years ago.

On a less personal note, another item that really stuck out to me was Adam Grant's leadership study, in which people were assigned to fold shirts and an actor was surreptitiously placed in each group. In some of the groups, the actor would speak up and say he knew of a faster way to fold the shirts. It turns out introverted leaders were 20% more likely to follow the suggestion with 24% better results than the teams with extroverted leaders. This is because we introverts have the double threat of an ability to listen closely to others and a lack of interest in controlling social situations, making us more likely to hear and implement suggestions. Go team innie!

Overall a good book, one I might revisit later when I have more free time/fewer books tempting me from the shelves.
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Reading Progress

05/01/2012 page 10
3.0% "So far this book is very interesting, though I imagine it'll be a slow read for me because right now I'm distracted by the Tomorrow series."
05/02/2012 page 22
7.0% "Have only finished the introduction but it seems like there are going to be parts that explain a lot about me. Woohoo!"
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