Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

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Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain is a popular science look at the differences in personality type. She argues that introverts are just as necessary in leadership as the more outspoken extroverted power types.

First, I should make clear that Ms Cain does acknowledge the fact that most people are a blend of personality types. In studies she cites, it seems that about 20% of people are full extroverts, 20% are full introverts, and the rest are a mix of personality types. Nevertheless, it was fascinating to read about both the culture in America of extroversion and the science behind our chemistry.

Ms. Cain begins by examining the whys behind the extroverted American culture and its development 100 years ago, followed by the reasons why groups of all extroverts do not succeed as well as we may suspect they might. Then she examines the science in our bodies. Why are some people more introverted and others extroverted? How does an introvert become a public figure at all, given their personality type? This last point was particularly interesting to me, as I have always considered myself introverted and “shy,” and yet I’ve frequently been perceived as outgoing.

Next, the book examines other cultures in the world, and the ways that extroversion and introversion are accepted (or not) among these other cultures. Finally, the last section of the book talks about how to nurture your own introverted personality type. How does one nurture his or her own temperament or his or her child’s temperament in order to succeed?

I believe Quiet is an important book for those who must frequently relate to people of the opposite personality type. If we all thought alike, there would be no conflict. Ms Cain shows that there are ways to balance an introvert-extrovert relationship so all will be happy. Further, as one does so, there are tremendous intrinsic rewards by doing so.

I found it very beneficial to myself as well. I have always considered myself an introvert, I married an introvert, and my oldest child is also of the same type of personality: we get energy from being by ourselves, we need down time to recharge, and, while I do enjoy socializing with friends, I do not like superficial conversations but prefer more meaningful conversation. Reading the book gave me some ideas for continuing to nurture my outspoken self, despite my quiet side.

Further, my youngest child is clearly of a different personality type. Even at one month old she thrived amid other people. Now that she’s more than a year old, she gets restless when she’s alone with me, often looking for her brother or something interesting to see. She loves people and is not phased or startled by new situations. I really appreciated the section about how I can relate to her and nurture her. Growing up in a “quiet” and introverted family may be difficult for her as she’ll be itching to talk and get out all the time (I suspect). But if I nurture her need for discussion, maybe we’ll all be okay. I’m grateful for the chance to see that truly, we all come with our own personalities!

Quiet is a good book. It was not perfect. The chapter on dopamine was particularly boring for me. But in general, I really enjoyed getting to know my quieter side a little more.

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

  1. I just wrote a little about this book today, mostly how I was realizing my introverted nature was growing stronger the older I get. I came and saw your review and thought how timely it was. I have been on our library waiting list for over a year for this book. Up to #100 now I think. Your review makes me want to read it more than ever. I’m interested in the keeping the extroverted part ticking, and what she recommends, without overdoing it, which is the problem I have run into for many years. Thanks for a thoughtful review of the book.

    Do you have problems sometimes with your extroverted daughter, in that she likes to go out more than any of you do?

  2. Susan, well, my daughter is still only 16 months old! But it is clear to me that she does thrive in high-people environments. We’ll see as she gets older. And how fun that you just posted about introversion yourself! You must be destined to read this book 🙂

  3. I enjoyed this book too. I lean heavily toward the introvert side, but am pretty “high-functioning” (in popular terms anyway – I know Susan Cain would not approve of that label)

    Introvert abuse seems rampant in corporate America, and I liked her chapters on the whole “open office” concept b.s. that so many companies buy into (as mine did about a year and a half ago).

    A lot of people in my reading circles have read and liked this book also. I guess readers are more likely to be in the introvert camp anyway, though, right? Oh well, maybes one extroverts in power will read it and things will get better… 🙂

    -Jay

  4. I’ve always considered myself an introvert, and reading this book was so validating. Having grown up in a culture that prizes extroversion, it was great to read that there’s nothing wrong with me; I’m just wired differently than extroverts, and I have my own strengths. I’m quiet, and that’s okay.

  5. I read this book last year, and as an introvert I really liked it, and have passed it around. Everyone I know who has read it, either introverted or extroverted has taken something useful from it.

    Susan – I like your point about becoming more introverted as we get older. I too was thinking about this the other day. I wonder if we aren’t becoming more introverted, but just more accepting of it in ourselves?

    My review is here: https://fennell-books.squarespace.com/journal/2012/5/12/quiet-by-susan-cain.html

    1. Helen » I really like that point, that we are more accepting of ourselves. But still, I think of my grandma in her last years and she really needed people. She had someone come in and play cards with her everyday so she’d not be lonely. I see that as still quite extroverted. Off to read your review too!

    1. Jenny » It talked about how extroverts are more excited by reward-based behaviors. Introverts have different responses and they are not reward based. But as I said the chemical talk was a bit dull so maybe I’m remembering wrong. You have to read the book now.

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