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

Quiet by Susan Cain
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's review
Mar 18, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: psychology
Read in May, 2012

Years ago, my division manager at work had everybody in the division take the Meyer Briggs personality test. Then we spent time in a workshop, to understand the implications of our personality types. One of the dimensions of the test is extroversion/introversion (E or I types). This book offers a very satisfying account of what it means to be an introvert. Generally Western cultures admire extroverts, while Asian cultures admire introverts. Both types of personalities offer value to society. Groups of people who are introverts are best with an extroverted leader, while groups of extroverts are best with an introverted leader.

Many introverts find it difficult to live in a society that values extroversion more highly. As a result, many introverts pretend to be extroverts in certain social situations. But they cannot maintain this pretension indefinitely, and at some point in time they must "recharge" their internal batteries with quiet and solitude. The book makes a major point here: It's perfectly OK to pretend to be an extrovert for periods of time--as long as you do this while you are working at something that you truly love.

The book has useful practical advice for introverts. If you are an introvert and your husband or wife is an extrovert, there is much to be said about how to maintain or improve your relationship. If you are raising a child who is an introvert, it is important to understand how to encourage the child to follow his/her innate abilities.

Back in the 1940's and 1950's, Alex Osborn was plagued by the lack of creativity in his advertising agency. So, he wrote some books introducing the concept of "brainstorming". The idea is for people get together in groups and toss out ideas without fear of ridicule--the more ideas, the better. The problem is, in the 1960's, studies showed that brainstorming is not efficient; you can get more, good ideas if people simply think creatively in solitude. Committees simply are not as productive as the sum of individuals working alone. We are so inculcated with the idea that brainstorming is best--but this is really just a reflection of the dominance of extroversion in our society.
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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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message 1: by Jim (new)

Jim Excellent review, David! I have spent enough time in committee meetings to know that the 'brainstorming' idea is inefficient at best. But they still have all those meetings..


David Jim--you are amazing--you commented on my review less than 5 minutes after I posted it!


message 3: by Jim (new)

Jim Just a random coincidence (I think)! I happened to be looking at updates, and there you were.

Really a good review, and you can put me in the I group (with an E spouse)..


David I was told, on the basis of the meyers briggs test, that I am INTP.


message 5: by Sandra (new)

Sandra Hi, David. I'm probably not an introvert myself, but I have serious problems with the concept of brainstorming, and I can't think of anything more noxious than endless committee meetings at work. Think most problems are best solved if quiet people are allowed to go off in a corner by themselves and think about it and then emerge to discuss it. Maybe I should read this book?


David No organization changes. It was just an attempt to understand ourselves and each other a little better.


Prasenjeet Kumar Hi David. I agree with the book most of the time. I feel that it is not true that all Asian cultures value introversion. I am from India and I feel that there is a very strong bias in favour of extroverts. My teachers and classmates in my school used to consider my anti-social.


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