Interview with Susan Cain

Posted by Goodreads on December 5, 2012
Susan Cain Former lawyer Susan Cain left the corporate grind to pen a book about the flourishing inner life. A self-professed introvert who prefers a quiet one-on-one conversation to a noisy, crowded party, the debut writer presents her research and a rallying call to action in Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking. This nonfiction work explains why our culture favors extroverts but insists that introverts shouldn't feel a need to change their basic nature—all personality types have something valuable to contribute in the workplace and communities at large. Cain chatted with Goodreads about embracing her true self, mastering public speaking, and the swelling group of proud introverts she calls the Quiet Revolution.

Goodreads: We asked your readers to submit questions for you and received an outpouring of responses, many of which were personal stories from introverts who feel validated by the message of Quiet.

Susan Cain: Every day is like another dam breaking in my inbox. Every time that someone tells me about their transformation—in their company, organization, or personally—I try to write it down. I have a whole file I keep that I call my Quiet Revolution file.

GR: With a best-selling book and a TED talk that has ratcheted up millions of views, your work has had such a wide-reaching impact. Why has no one spoken up before?

SC: I think the reason people haven't been talking about it is the exact reason there is such an outpouring: It is fundamental to who we are. Introversion and extroversion are an identity as much as gender is. There is a social stigma to say that you are an introvert. There is this core feature of ourselves that people have not felt comfortable talking about. I think most introverts who are capable of passing as extroverts choose to do that and don't speak about their true selves. They may not even acknowledge it to themselves.

I experienced this within myself when I started writing the book. I was uncomfortable writing about it because it was inviting the world to see me through a lens that is a stigmatized lens. It's like everywhere I go now—"Oh, here comes the introvert." It's a funny way to be seen, and I had to get over my own discomfort to be able to speak about it publicly. It's like reclaiming the word "queer" or reclaiming the word "gay." It's learning to love it. That's why there is such an outpouring. It's basically making it socially acceptable to talk about something that hasn't been talked about before.

GR: Taking back the pejorative.

SC: Yes, exactly. Taking control of your identity.

GR: What was the trigger for you? When did you know you had to write this book?

SC: I started writing it in 2005. It's funny. I stopped practicing [corporate law] in 2001; I started writing, and I wrote so many different things: a play, poetry, a memoir. I never tried to publish any of it. It's just sitting in my hard drive. Then I came to this book idea, and it was clear to me that this was the one I was going to try to publish. It became a labor of love. I'd never been published in my life, and I started working on this book proposal thinking I would be happy if someone would pay me $5 to read it. Then I got my first inkling of its impact when I found my literary agent and he started shopping it around. All the publishing houses went crazy over it because, when you think about it, most editors in New York are also introverted. There was an auction for the book because they all responded to it.

GR: : You've spent a year doing lots and lots of public speaking. This is torture for some introverts; does it get easier with practice?

SC: It definitely gets easier with practice, even aside from the techniques. The process psychologists call desensitization: If there is something you're afraid of or uncomfortable with, keep on exposing yourself to that thing in manageable doses, and the thing loses its power over you. In my case, that thing is public speaking, and now I've done it so many times that it doesn't have the same effect as it used to. I've come to like it.

A technique I like is letting yourself be yourself onstage and talking to someone you really care about. I don't think of myself as a natural public speaker, performer, or entertainer. But I am authentic, and when I am speaking, it's from a very heartfelt place. It's been really liberating. When I started out, I thought one needed to be a natural showman, and I've come to understand that that is not right.

GR: In the book you describe how industrialization at the turn of the 20th century became a driving force in our transformation from a "culture of character" to a "culture of personality," which favors extroverts. One hundred years later, with larger and larger cities and modern lifestyles full of more and more stimulation, we're never going back to a pastoral, small-town rhythm. What hope is there that we can reverse the trend of favoring extroverted behavior?

SC: I think we can, and it's not going to come out of lifestyle changes. It's going to come out of necessity. The things that introverts tend to do have to do with creativity, caution (introverts have an innate sense of caution), and a more reflective style of leadership. And we need these three things desperately, and people are starting to understand that we need them desperately. We're living in a time when people are craving innovation. People are starting to realize the unique value that introverts bring culturally and in organizations. The change is going to come about through consciousness rising. I think introverts are in the same place that women were in the 1950s or 1960s. The first tool that women used was consciousness rising. When you understand it, that's when things begin to change.

GR: Introverts prefer lower levels of stimulation in their daily environment. Is the advent of the smart phone and social media a positive or a negative?

SC: I see it as a sign of the overly extroverted society that we live in. People are so exhausted by demands of self-presentation that even extroverts long to communicate without having to be "on," having to present a face to the world. That's why people are so eager for things like texting, where we can communicate but we don't have to be "on." I think we are all socially exhausted. I think this is why yoga and meditation are as popular as forms of turning inward. Looking inward isn't wrong, but we've been made to feel it's wrong, so we've accessed it through these socially accepted outlets.

GR: Goodreads member Marietta Engle says, "I wish I had been able to read Quiet 20 years ago! When I was a preteen struggling with my introverted identity, someone gave me How to Win Friends and Influence People. I struggled with it, finding little strength in the advice in contrast to so much I found in yours. Would you consider writing another version of your book for a younger audience?"

SC: I'm already thinking about it actually. Yes, it is in the works. It's very much something that I want to do. I'm sure I'll be working on this Quiet Revolution for the rest of my life.

GR: How much is known about the neurophysiological differences between introverts and extroverts? You draw a parallel from accepting an introverted identity to accepting a gay or queer identity. Defining physical differences is sometimes controversial, sometimes helpful.

SC: Whenever it comes to those controversies, including homosexuality, I feel that it is much more helpful than harmful to understand the differences because otherwise there is too much pressure for the marginalized group to conform to the dominant norm. I don't believe that people can change their stripes. Maybe to some extent, but not that much. I don't think that it's in anyone's interest for them to change. If you look at every single species in the animal kingdom, you'll see that there are introverts and there are extroverts. Evolutionarily speaking, the reason for that is, the two types of survival strategies. In some environments introverted animals do better, and in others extroverted animals do better. The same is true for humans, and we really do need both. If we can understand that these differences are programmed into us for an evolutionary viable reason, people start to think of it very differently.

Based on an experiment: If you drop a trap in a pond, the introverted fish will swim to the sides of the pond because they are more cautious, and the extroverted fish will swim right into the trap because they are curious about what is going on. If the trap were a predator, it's the extroverted fish that would be eaten and the introverted fish would have survived. The same thing is true if you look at humans. If you look at Wall Street, for example, it's very often that you see the bold extroverts or the introverts who are good at acting like bold extroverts—it's easier for them to get promoted to act like the prototypical financier. But the fact is, we would all be better off if there were introverts who are more cautious and statistical in their thinking and their style. We're not that different from the fish at the end of the day.

GR: Goodreads member Rachel Sparks asks, "If you could change anything about our educational system, what would it be?"

SC: Can I give you two? The first one is the general consciousness raising. I really would love teachers to understand that there is nothing wrong with introverted children; the job is not to change them into extroverts. It is how to teach introverts how to draw upon their own natural strengths. Secondly, I would like to see a good balance between group work and independent work. When I was in school, there was no group work. I had never seen it in my life. It was a trend that caught on after I was done with school. I hear often that people dislike group work.

GR: Several readers submitted pleas for dating advice for introverts. You've mentioned that you have an extroverted husband. Goodreads member Osayi Osar-Emokpae asks, "How do you encourage [introverts] who dread going to parties but feel that they have to go so that they can meet their potential spouse?"

SC: I think that introverts and extroverts are often drawn to each other. Research suggests that half of all married types are of one personality type and the other is introvert-extrovert types. It's quite common. There is a sense that one completes the other. Each one is strong at what the other is not. For me it's a good fit. I should say that there is a whole chapter of the book about conflicts that often come up for introvert-extrovert couples. We have one classic problem that when we drive, my husband likes the radio way turned up, and I like it much softer. It's a classic conflict that's much more easily managed when you understand where it's coming from. It's just a temperamental difference.

GR: You agree to disagree at a certain point.

SC: And to agree that neither one of you is crazy for wanting what you want.

GR: Briefly describe a typical day spent writing. Do you have any unusual writing habits?

SC: My ideal writing day is, I wake up in the morning, and the first thing I do is go to my favorite café. I love to write in cafés and libraries. I hate to write at home. I like the feeling of others around and having wonderful music playing softly in the background. I love feeling other people's energies, but I'm free to be left alone to do my own thing.

I don't have unusual writing habits, but whenever I can, I write with a latte and a cookie or muffin or something. Over time I have come to associate writing with pleasure. People ask me if I get writer's block, and I really never do, and I think it's for this reason. Sitting down behind my laptop is my favorite thing to do. Even when a latte or a cookie is not available, the association between writing and pleasure is still so strong, it carries through.

GR: What authors, books, or ideas have influenced you?

SC: I really loved Colette when I was younger. There is little resemblance to my writing, but I really love her. Now I tend to read a lot of idea-based nonfiction. Next on my list is Daniel Kahneman's book, Thinking, Fast and Slow. I really like those types of books. I just read an amazing book that's coming out by Adam Grant. It's called Give and Take. It's about the power of generosity. Adam Grant is this amazing man considered one of the best social scientists of his generation. He's done amazing groundbreaking research about people who are naturally generous and wanting to help other people actually come out ahead, contrary to what we think.

GR: What are you working on now?

SC: I'm just starting the research for my second book, but I'm not really ready to talk about it yet.


Comments Showing 1-50 of 54 (54 new)


message 1: by Marlene (new)

Marlene Because of what I do, I am perceived as an extrovert. Because of how I feel, this book speaks to me. Thank you Susan Cain.


message 2: by Valerie (new)

Valerie Rutherford This was a great book. I'm as introverted as they come, and it's great to see someone talking about the benefits of being yourself and not letting the Extroverted Ideal change you or make you feel bad about who you are.


message 3: by Elyse (new)

Elyse  Walters I was shocked when I read about the amount of 'group work' in schools in your book. I had no idea. Where have I been?
I went around asking 'mom's who still had young children at home about this. They 'each' said...."oh, yes, this has been going on for years now.

My Goddness! I can't help but think---if the idea was for the schools to model the business world ---
well??? how well is 'that' workin?

I can't imagine even 'adults' enjoying 'having' to go to work each day to sit with the 'pod' group.

I'm a huge fan of your book! I think all teachers educators, and people in business would benefit from this book. (heck even the local pool boy would benefit)

Its brilliant!!


message 4: by Jenny (new)

Jenny I am an introvert, but I also am an interpersonal learner (meaning that I need to talk through my ideas, or perhaps explain them to someone else, in order to understand them better). I work in software development which involves "group work", but I find it really rewarding because we are each bringing our own perspectives and experience to the project.

However, I did not like "group work" in school because it was too easy for slackers on the team to get the proverbial free ride (from me). Also it is hard to motivate a group of people (whether students or not) to work on a project that they are just not that interested in. Group projects are representative of 21st century workers in an information and innovation society, but it needs to be done right, with the appropriate focus on fostering individual accountability and contribution and creating projects for which all team members can find interesting and meaningful and rewarding.

So, even though I may not seek out group work as an introvert, I definitely find that once I do get involved I find it immensely rewarding. Just don't make me go to a party when the project is all done. :)


message 5: by Carol (new)

Carol It sounds like I would learn a lot from this book and thank you for sharing such insight with us introverts!


message 6: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne I read this book and loved it. It put into words things I've felt all my life but was unable to articulate properly, such as the need for "alone time" after parties or long days at work in an open concept office. This book also gave me permission to need that solitude without feeling guilty about it. That was a huge step forward for me being happy with who I am. Thank you.


message 7: by Hyarrowen (new)

Hyarrowen It's such a great book. I'm going to talk about it at my book group in the New Year. One of the members said she thought it would be a good thing if libraries were more lively and had more noisy activities. I jumped on her immediately, with examples from real life, having been given validation to do so by this book!


message 8: by Michele (new)

Michele Rubatino Love this book to assist us introverts, and help us to get out of our shell, because the truth is, inside each of us is a hero, and every hero is needed!!!


message 9: by Elyse (last edited Dec 07, 2012 02:21PM) (new)

Elyse  Walters NOTE: This book is 'not' just for introverts. ---
Not sure if you read the book yet *Michele* -

but I don't think the point of the book is to assit introverts to get out of their shell ---more in the lines of seeing their value in the world. (feeling enpowered)
All creative people know they must spend time alone in order to 'be creative'. ---(think writers, artist, musicians...etc.) ---
An Extroverts speaks for example -- (takes the lead) ---the introvert might hold back with the 'correct' information because its not worth the 'battle' --while its possible the extrovert with their flamboyant personality 'enrolls' the group to follow their lead (and they may be wrong).
Meanwhile ---the 'introverts' of the world score higher in their SAT scores ---manifest great results --and they honor listening to others. The are very powerful people....(Quiet and getting things done) ---less 'drama'.

So much great information in the book 'QUIET' -(tons)-

Most people would call me an 'extrovert'....
Yet---being 60 years old now ---(I've spent many years transforming myself ---as I deeply value the inner being of the introvert). I have more balance in my life today than in my 20's and 30's. My A type personality has been 'tamed'. (i had to work at it)

I felt sad when I read a part in Susan's book (because she was right) when she talked about teenagers who are sometimes too popular --and busy with their friends with a busy social life. They miss a HUGE OPPORTUNITY when they don't spend enough time being bored --being alone --and working alone --'creating alone'. Its time of life (when not busy yet with a job and family to really devote to yourself ---and many teens don't get the support ----then 'just play' and 'wonder' through life. (not taking their life serious or their studies, or a talent/hobby-- they don't put in enough time to develop any amount of mastery)
Later: as an adult, it begins to really show up ---(suffering and depression might even take place --or feelings of 'not worthy' or not confident to compete in the job market..etc.) ---

I experience these things... (some of this was from a lack of support --a dad who died when I was 4 and mother who was never around --and part of this was from me 'playing' too much. My 'extrovert' personality ---allowed me to THINK I might find love ---(find kids to play with me). I had fun --and learn very little. (didn't develop a life last talent) --

Today: I'm passionate about reading...and very thankful I found it 'for myself' later in life. I LOVE to LEARN... but I suffered a lot (with this extrovert-type personality) -- I 'still' felt very unworthy ---because I felt I had 'no skill's ---(no markable skills really). and I too, wanted to be what I was 'not'....(I wanted to be what the introvert was'....SMART and WELL RESPECTED!! --and CREATIVE!
I ADORE people who are natural introverts. I admire them -repect them. I keep learning from them...(you)

Your shell is already beautiful (you introverts)---its for the rest of the world to WAKE UP and see YOU....
You do NOT need to change for us. I guess I don't need to change either. (we contribute to each other).

We are ALL connected ---each doing the best we can ---each 'whole' and complete as we are!


message 10: by Alyssa (new)

Alyssa I'd love to read a book like this aimed at a younger audience. I need this.


message 11: by Annie (new)

Annie Elyse wrote: "I was shocked when I read about the amount of 'group work' in schools in your book. I had no idea. Where have I been?
I went around asking 'mom's who still had young children at home about this..."


And yet I am expected to work in teams every day! I really hate it. I think I must be the only introvert in our department and its agonizing. I am always shocked when I present an idea I've been working on only to find eceryone's angry with me because I didn't run it by them first


message 12: by Elyse (new)

Elyse  Walters Oh Annie, Was there a time in your work (the 'same' job you have now) when you were 'not' expected to work in teams? Do you remember when your company enforced a change? Did some employees leave? Does 'anyone' really like working 'in teams' at your job? (even the extroverts?)

Thank you for sharing Annie....(and I'm sorry)....

you know, just makes me think (especially after such a major DOT COM CRASH and this recession) --- we ought to be actively listenting more closely to what introverts have to say.
It was the EXROVERTS of this country that got us into the mess we are in now!

Annie: I hope you enjoy some time 'off' during the Holiday Season... and may your 'wishes-come-true'!

elyse


message 13: by Annie (last edited Dec 07, 2012 08:38PM) (new)

Annie Elyse wrote: "Oh Annie, Was there a time in your work (the 'same' job you have now) when you were 'not' expected to work in teams? Do you remember when your company enforced a change? Did some employees leave..."

Thank you elyse, that's very sweet of you. I don't think the company "enforced" a change, it's just happened over the years. That's the way it is in the business world today. We're told over and over that no one works in a silo. Which I think is basically true, but surely not everything has to be run by a team. My favorite jobs have always been the ones where I can be around and interact with other people but work on my own. Does that make sense?


message 14: by Diane (new)

Diane Being an introvert myself, I really enjoyed this book and try to apply all I have learned to my business and personal life. It's not easy being an Innie!


message 15: by Peter (new)

Peter Burnett I’ll read this book. It sounds like a step in the right direction, telling as it does of the trials – and triumphs – of an introvert in a world where extroversion has long been presented as the norm and (even in a predominantly Protestant country) self-examination and all forms of introspection... are "bad form" and have come to be viewed as scarcely less of a character flaw than mental illness.

The tale of an individual’s tribulations and successful struggles to overcome her handicap must speak to millions. Yet, while this points in the direction of the real underlying problem – an ultra-conformist culture with a deeply skewed and alienating perception of reality, all appearances, all on the surface, nothing behind – it does not call that culture into question.

That was to be expected. How else to reach a mass readership than to act like a missionary seeking in the customs of benighted savages tales that will convey meaning to them? Only by oblique means can we get people to question assumptions and prejudices which are the product of generations of brainwashing... As someone I know once said:

"The truth... the truth? If I told you the truth, you'd never want to see me again, and I'd lose my job!"

Now, you may find what I've just said hard to understand, but I'm asking you to think about it. And about something else: I'm in my seventies. I've seen and done a lot; and some of the most wonderful things I've been fortunate enough to witness were glimpses into the inner worlds of small children, so rich, so vast... I always feared for those kids who had so much to offer the world - on them hang all our hopes. I feared that heavy conditioning, educational, parental, might get the better of them and damage their souls.

Perhaps the most terrible thing about our out-of- kilter world, dominated by perverse and narcissistic extroverts and their destructive,inhuman belief systems is what we are handing down to our posterity.

§

For the rest, I want to express sympathy for Annie. Teamwork is not about forming phalanxes or kangaroo courts but sharing: discovering everyone's strong and weak points and drawing on the special talents of each. I get the feeling that your people need some external training in group work - which would be painful for both them and you, but invaluable. Maybe you'd end up as mediator... But, before that, you'd need a strong and empathetic leader who's patient and listens to everyone. It's through others that we discover who we are and what we're capable of. (Pardon me if I've said too much...)


message 16: by Elyse (last edited Dec 08, 2012 06:08PM) (new)

Elyse  Walters WOW......I don't think I've 'ever' experience more 'real' --gut-feeling-honest-posts on Goodreads than the discussions going on in 'here'.
I LOVE this site. (its my all-time favorite-- I enjoy to read and love people) ---

but I'm soooooooooo moved by the posts.
THANK YOU *PETER*! I not only DO NOT think you said too much ---I've got ears for MORE. I like to know your inner truth ---(its helpful to all of us). BESIDES.....
I don't have to be THE OLD FART by myself here
I'm only 60 years old... lol :)

Thanks everyone! I'm really touched! See, what the author Susan Cain created for us?

love it!


---*ANNIE* ---- YES!!! VERY CLEAR!!! (I can relate)

*Diane* ---I'm sure we all smiled at your word "Innie" ("not easy being an Innie"). Something so 'warm' in how you said that!


message 17: by Peter (new)

Peter Burnett Thanks Elise… I’ll be back on this thread, because it opens up prospects for thinking and talking about something deeper and wider than my case or yours, even Susan Cain’s: the urgent need for us all to recover lost balance and rediscover the true wealth of human life – which can’t be quantified in dollars, yet doesn’t necessarily exclude what hedonists see as “the good life”. A genuine “pursuit of happiness” – but not Keystone Cops or “celebs” style…


message 18: by Elyse (new)

Elyse  Walters I couldn't agree more Peter!


message 19: by Annie (last edited Dec 09, 2012 07:51AM) (new)

Annie Peter wrote: ...Teamwork is not about forming phalanxes or kangaroo courts but sharing: discovering everyone's strong and weak points and drawing on the special talents of each. I get the feeling that your people need some external training in group work - which would be painful for both them and you, but invaluable. "

I understand what you're saying. This group I work with now is actually a very good group of people. Some of the best people I've ever worked with. But most of them just don't get the introvert personnality. During our annual group conference (there's 16 of us working at 5 different sites), we had an expert come and present the Myers-Brigg personality types to us. It was very valuable and help me understand the other personalities I work with and how to work around them.

I guess what I was trying to get at in my earlier post is that I work best alone and the others in the group don't really "get" that yet. So I do things that work with my style and end up ticking people off because I'm not being a "team player" But I guess I made it sound like an everyday occurrence, when its not really. It happens occaisionally, and being the super-sensitive introvert that I am, I'm sure I take it way to personnally.

Thanks for your concern and support.


message 20: by Peter (new)

Peter Burnett Thanks, Annie. All you say makes good sense - but where there are blockages of communication, it's a little like frostbite. Circulation must be restored as fast as possible, and the experience cannot be painless, for you or for the others. Anyway, that's my experience.

I just responded to Elyse with a lengthy comment, explaining exactly why I was extending my reaction to Susan Cain's book beyond the intra-personal to, if you like, the supra-personal. Unfortunately, the Goodreads program seems to have lost that comment. A pity, because I put plenty of content into what I wrote, but didn't save it.

Basically, I endorsed her phrase that "It was the EXTROVERTS of this country that got us into the mess we are in now!" but went beyond that to say that, unless we learn to be inclusive and listen to wise voices that are not given a hearing, we'll all be in deep trouble. It's a matter of survival.

I hope the fact that I used a couple of phrases from the Gospel didn't somehow condemn my message...

Or the fact that I quoted a journalist writing this morning who described our behavior in the face of accumulating dangers as like that of rabbits blinded and shocked into paralysis by approaching headlights.

In other words, I'm convinced that the massive current bias towards extroversion and what's supposed to be "objectivity" represents a huge danger for us all.

I tried once to translate a phrase by a French philosopher that says it all, but doubt if I've succeeded... Too much meaning packed into that sentence...

"When that which cannot feel, does not feel itself and is devoid of desire or love, is enshrined as a universal organizing principle, that signals the advent of madness, because madness lacks everything but reason." Michel HENRY


message 21: by Diane (new)

Diane Budden Many years ago i worked with a painfully shy person who was a writer. WE became close friends, but the responsibility was on me to leave gaps in our conversation for her to respond and not just keep running on. I am an extrovert. I think introverts are attracted to extroverts to help them bridge those gaps.


message 22: by Annie (new)

Annie Mmm, maybe. But as an introvert, I don't really feel a need for someone to fill gaps in conversation. I'm perfectly happy to sit and listen to the rest of you talk. I have to pretty close friends with someone before I"m willing to actually talk to them


message 23: by Peter (new)

Peter Burnett To attain a balanced society, a balanced world, we surely need to be inclusive and to value all types and their input. We all need each other, even if people with one type of personality may slow down the flow of words and ideas and frustrate those who are quicker off the mark, or forever in a rush.
Diane, you seem to be alluding (at least in part) to something important: pausing after putting a question or new proposition. Leaving open space for the other to consider what you've just said, and respond. Cultivating the art of the listener. That implies an ability to listen sympathetically… even to silences.
Isn't patience something more positive than gritting your teeth in frustration and waiting for the slow-wit or stammerer to answer? More like a simple change of gear to adjust to the terrain.
Of course, there are people like my friend who’d sum up a one hour lecture after ten minutes listening… but he himself was a superlative communicator and kindness made him a great listener.
To repeat myself, I don’t see our problem so much as one of extro- or introversion. It’s more to do with a crudely dualist and materialistic world view, in which people perceive reality as you might perceive a passing iceberg – so long as you don't get close enough to learn the uncomfortable truth! Thinking that what we see is all there is to reality. What's more, taking into account nothing beyond the gleaming surfaces – all appearances, nothing behind them, let alone below.
Actually, there is inevitably more even to this fragmentary perception: what our Unconscious projects onto those surfaces, and onto others.
I worked with a great group a few years ago. We surely experienced Sartre’s “Hell is the others” – and how! – but even more, that Paradise is the others. Paradise is direct communication – think, too, of Martin Buber and Lévinas… In particular, we learned the knack, when a massive intellectual or practical blockage arose… of stopping hammering away at it, standing back, taking a break… breathing easy. And, within minutes, the problem had simply dissolved. No, we weren’t all so dumb: the one who always tried hardest to force the issue was a bright young physicist!


message 24: by David (new)

David Guy It's about time someone stood up for introverts. Accept yourself for who you are. If you need to get out of your shell, do so. But visualize that shell as having a zipper so you can get back in when necessary. As for the pleasure seekers, I quote one of my favorite comedians, Steven Wright-"You can't have everything. Where would you put it?".


message 25: by Elyse (new)

Elyse  Walters Funny *David* .............

and did somebody mention *Marti Buber*? (Peter?) :)

I MUST get out of here....I'm running late! (thank you everyone)


message 26: by Diane (new)

Diane Budden Annie wrote: "Mmm, maybe. But as an introvert, I don't really feel a need for someone to fill gaps in conversation. I'm perfectly happy to sit and listen to the rest of you talk. I have to pretty close friend..."


message 27: by Diane (new)

Diane Budden But Annie, extroverts are uncomfortable with silent gaps and feel like they have to fill them:) It's a burden for extroverts! At least sensitive ones. How to fill the gap and not talk too much.


message 28: by Emilio (new)

Emilio Calderon Annie wrote: "My favorite jobs have always been the ones where I can be around and interact with other people but work on my own. Does that make sense? "

It makes absolute sense, I am the exact same way. I enjoy interacting with people... in my own terms.


message 29: by Emilio (new)

Emilio Calderon Diane wrote: "WE became close friends, but the responsibility was on me to leave gaps in our conversation for her to respond and not just keep running on...."

Annie wrote: "Mmm, maybe. But as an introvert, I don't really feel a need for someone to fill gaps in conversation. I'm perfectly happy to sit and listen to the rest of you talk. I have to pretty close friend..."


I'm an introvert in a family of extroverts and that can be a challenge.

One of the things that I dislike the most is to be interrupted while speaking. Many extroverts have a tendency to interrupt and transmit their own message, without having the courtesy to listening to what you have to say. In many occasions I have simply let them speak. Why should I make the effort to tell them about my day, my idea, my plans if they are not interested?

I don't think that extroverts have to leave gaps in the conversation, i just believe that they should respect the other person's time to speak.

Another thing that makes me uneasy is conflict. My brother, an extrovert, thrives in conflict.


message 30: by Kimberly (new)

Kimberly Tucker Thank you!


message 31: by Nora (new)

Nora Cox Jenny wrote: "I am an introvert, but I also am an interpersonal learner (meaning that I need to talk through my ideas, or perhaps explain them to someone else, in order to understand them better). I work in soft..."

Elyse wrote: "I was shocked when I read about the amount of 'group work' in schools in your book. I had no idea. Where have I been?
I went around asking 'mom's who still had young children at home about this..."


I like to run things by others who's ideas I can respect. Sometimes this is seen as my being stupid! I think I am "working well with others" and mining all the other wisdom around me as well as respecting the ideas of others! I can work just fine by myself, in no way am I stupid. The ones who think I am stupid for eoidn this, really, are just not willing to be found out as they rarely have anything new to bring to the table. Now who is stupid?


message 32: by Annie (new)

Annie Nora wrote: "like to run things by others who's ideas I can respect. Sometimes this is seen as my being stupid! I think I am "working well with others" and mining all the other wisdom around me as well as respecting the ideas of others! And mining all the other wisdom around me as we'll a respecting the ideas of others... ..."

I do this too and often get the same reaction. My sister in law says that I make decisions by committee. But rally, I just want to get other perspectives on an issue. Why make a royal mess that could have been avoided with a little additional information?


message 33: by Fidelbogen (new)

Fidelbogen Cf As a militant "loud and proud" introvert, I am happy to see such books being written, and such conversations beginning to happen.


message 34: by Leandra (new)

Leandra As an introvert it sometimes feels as if I can only take in the world in small doses. You just feel so overwhelmed by the constant stimuli that is out there, and I find social media like facebook, twitter etc overwhelming and sometimes superficial. And I understand the group work thing in school. Although I was usually the least talkative in the group, everyone always counted on me to come up with the ideas, and I always overdelivered. I think introverts have so much to offer, but our contributions are slow to be noticed at times. I am however at the point where I'm having more compassion for myself, and I appreciate books like this which can help all introverts all there.


message 35: by Diane (new)

Diane Loved this book. Got it from the library, read it, then went to Chapters and bought 2 copies, one for myself and one for a friend who I felt could be helped as much as I was by reading it. I want to read it aloud to my husband, saying "hey, look what else she wrote about me..." love it


message 36: by Calvin (new)

Calvin this book opened my mind. now I'm no longer need to act like extrovert. thank you susan cain, this is the most valuable knowledge I acquired since I know jungian archetypes and monomyth.


message 37: by Nora (new)

Nora Cox Nora wrote: "Jenny wrote: "I am an introvert, but I also am an interpersonal learner (meaning that I need to talk through my ideas, or perhaps explain them to someone else, in order to understand them better). ..."

I have also found that once you open up an idea, project, thing-to-do, etc. to others, then you have the obligation to follow thru with it. As an introvert it is easy to hide your light under a bushel and let your ideas slide. Once I tell someone the accountability starts and I have to follow thru. Keeps me honest and moving on! Been using this trick for years to keep myself on track.


message 38: by Peter (new)

Peter Burnett That sounds really skilful, Nora, using others as your mirror! We need to open up, extroverts too, but in their case that can sometimes mean closing their mouths and opening their minds! Main thing, we ALL need each other, extroverts need introverts, and vice versa, just like a bird needs two wings to fly!


message 39: by Nora (new)

Nora Cox Leandra wrote: "As an introvert it sometimes feels as if I can only take in the world in small doses. You just feel so overwhelmed by the constant stimuli that is out there, and I find social media like facebook, ..."

Even at 50, I still have issues with too much stimilation. And stress from too many people to interact with, too many projects in play. But we just have to let the anxiety quell and move on. Hanging around with positive, happy people is also helpful. Haters definitely add to the stimulus party! I agree with you absolutely! A teacher I know calls it her "little autistic personality". we are not alone.


message 40: by Diane (new)

Diane Budden Emilio wrote: "Diane wrote: "WE became close friends, but the responsibility was on me to leave gaps in our conversation for her to respond and not just keep running on...."

Annie wrote: "Mmm, maybe. But as an ..."


Emilio wrote: "Diane wrote: "WE became close friends, but the responsibility was on me to leave gaps in our conversation for her to respond and not just keep running on...."

Annie wrote: "Mmm, maybe. But as an ..."



message 41: by Diane (new)

Diane Budden I'm married to a quasi-introvert, he works at being more extroverted-like. I try not to interrupt him, but sometimes it's hard to figure out if he is going to say something or not. His mother is an introvert too,and I think she thinks I talk too much. But I think she doesn't talk enough, and gives me the responsibility of keeping the conversation going.


message 42: by Emilio (new)

Emilio Calderon Diane wrote: "I'm married to a quasi-introvert, he works at being more extroverted-like. I try not to interrupt him, but sometimes it's hard to figure out if he is going to say something or not. His mother is a..."

Well, even with us introverts there are differences.


message 43: by Emilio (new)

Emilio Calderon Today I went to a Job Interview and the position is as Guest Service Manager in a large hotel.

My language skills might get me the job but I'm dreading it because I would have to be trying to get people to tell me their problems all day long.


message 44: by Annie (last edited Dec 13, 2012 08:08PM) (new)

Annie You know the funny thing is, i can talk to customers all day and commiserate with their problems, and try to solve them for them, with nary a problem. But put me in a room with someone I don't know and expect me to make small talk...not happening. I'm more likely to run screaming into the night


message 45: by Nora (new)

Nora Cox Annie wrote: "You know the funny thing is, i can talk to customers all day and commiserate with their problems, and try to solve them for them, with nary a problem. But put me in a room with someone I don't kno..."

Annie: you are a doer, not a talker, me too. Task oriented. Random conversation with people we have no background with is difficult. I guess we won't be going into a lucrative sales career anytime soon! But whatever the job, we will get it done! You might me me along that dark road, also screaming and running some day!


message 46: by Annie (new)

Annie Yep. That's exactly right. Small talk is the bane of my existence. And everyone wonders why I hate parties.


message 47: by Susan (new)

Susan Townsend I found the book to be very profound for me. I do believe that I am an introvert. but because I am trying to work in direct sales and I love to motivate others I also call my self a social introvert. For me to succeed in the things I want to do I must step out of self (the part of me who just want to work quietly online and do my thing.) I must at times put forth a different self to the world at large. I am not quite comfortable in large groups.

One on one sometimes I do ok. but I do need time to get out and breath deeply.

The book help me to see that there are so many others who are like me and that I am not the only one who does have to step out of my little box and work with others to do what I do like to do but is difficult to do. And I no longer think that I can't do it but I can in my own way! I can be peaceful in a room full of others just as long as they are not all looking at me. However from some of the examples in the book I see that others have done the same thing with regards to specking in public.

The one thing that I am still not totally agreeable with is having labels put on each and everyone. if we come to the understanding that each person has a measure of worth to share and to give then the labels do justice only in the understanding of how to reach and understand the motivations and the stimulus of that individual. Not type casting that person in one role.(wired,strange,dumb,social outcast). We are people who need others but just not so often.


message 48: by Diane (last edited Dec 15, 2012 01:34PM) (new)

Diane Budden Well said!


message 49: by R (new)

R I'm a former teacher - group work was strongly encouraged. As an introvert myself I only did a minimal amount of group work with my students because I hated doing it when I was a student. I was so much more productive when I worked alone. I totally agree with you!! I hope your work helps change the minds of leaders in education. The only way I learned anything as a student was through Deliberate Practice. Half-way done with Quiet. Thanks for a great book! :)


message 50: by Emilio (new)

Emilio Calderon Annie wrote: "You know the funny thing is, i can talk to customers all day and commiserate with their problems, and try to solve them for them, with nary a problem. But put me in a room with someone I don't kno..."

I am right there with you, if there is something to do, Fine, if it has to be idle chatting with unknown people it's damned hard.


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