Quiet (Cain)

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
Susan Cain, 2012
Random House
368 pp.
ISBN-13: 9780307352156



Summary
At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying; who invent and create but prefer not to pitch their own ideas; who favor working on their own over brainstorming in teams. Although they are often labeled “quiet,” it is to introverts we owe many of the great contributions to society—from Van Gogh’s sunflowers to the invention of the personal computer.

Passionately argued, impressively researched, and filled with the indelible stories of real people, Quiet shows how dramatically we undervalue introverts, and how much we lose in doing so. Susan Cain charts the rise of “the extrovert ideal” over the twentieth century and explores its far-reaching effects—how it helps to determine everything from how parishioners worship to who excels at Harvard Business School.

And she draws on cutting-edge research on the biology and psychology of temperament to reveal how introverts can modulate their personalities according to circumstance, how to empower an introverted child, and how companies can harness the natural talents of introverts. This extraordinary book has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how they see themselves. (From the publisher.)



Author Bio
Birth—1968
Where—N/A
Education—B.A., Princeton University; J.D., Harvard
   University Law School
Currently—lives "on the bank of the Hudson River" in New York State


Susan Cain is an American writer and lecturer, and author of the 2012 non-fiction book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, which argues that modern Western culture misunderstands and undervalues the traits and capabilities of introverted people

Cain graduated from Princeton University and Harvard Law School. She worked first as an attorney, and then as a negotiations consultant as owner and principal of The Negotiation Company. Cain has been a fellow and a faculty/staff member of the Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership, an educational non-profit organization.

Cain left her careers in corporate law and consulting, for a quieter life of writing at home with her family. She later wrote that she looks back on her years as a Wall Street lawyer "as time spent in a foreign country."

Quiet
When asked what she would be doing if she were not a writer, Cain explained that she would be a research psychologist, saying she is insatiably curious about human nature Cain's interest in writing about introversion reportedly stemmed from her own difficulties with public speaking, which made Harvard Law School "a trial.

While still an attorney, Cain noticed that others at her firm were putting personality traits like hers to good use in the profession, and that gender per se did not explain those traits. She eventually realized that the concepts of introversion and extroversion provided the "language for talking about questions of identity" that had been lacking.[12]

Cain explained that in writing Quiet, she was fueled by the passion and indignation that she imagined fueled the 1963 feminist book, The Feminine Mystique.[11] Cain likened Introverts today to women at that time—second-class citizens with gigantic amounts of untapped talent. Saying that most introverts aren’t aware of how they are constantly spending their time in ways that they would prefer not to be and have been doing so all their lives, Cain explained that she was trying to give people entitlement in their own minds to be who they are.

Cain added that for her, Quiet was not just a book but a mission. Specifically, she said she was interested in working with parents and teachers of introverted kids and to re-shape workplace culture and design, and in particular replace what she terms "The New Groupthink" with an environment more conducive to deep thought and solo reflection. (From Wikipedia.)



Book Reviews
Rich, intelligent...enlightening.
Wall Street Journal


An important book that should embolden anyone who's ever been told, "Speak up!"
People


Cain offers a wealth of useful advice for teachers and parents of introverts.... Quiet should interest anyone who cares about how people think, work, and get along, or wonders why the guy in the next cubicle acts that way. It should be required reading for introverts (or their parents) who could use a boost to their self-esteem.
Fortune.com


American culture and business tend to be dominated by extroverts, business consultant Cain explores and champions the one-third to one-half of the population who are introverts. She defines the term broadly, including “solitude-seeking” and “contemplative,” but also “sensitive,” “humble,” and “risk-averse.” Such individuals, she claims (though with insufficient evidence), are “disproportionately represented among the ranks of the spectacularly creative.” Yet the American school and workplace make it difficult for those who draw strength from solitary musing by over-emphasizing teamwork and what she calls “the new Groupthink.” Cain gives excellent portraits of a number of introverts and shatters misconceptions. For example, she notes, introverts can negotiate as well as, or better than, alpha males and females because they can take a firm stand “without inflaming counterpart’s ego.” Cain provides tips to parents and teachers of children who are introverted or seem socially awkward and isolated. She suggests, for instance, exposing them gradually to new experiences that are otherwise overstimulating. Cain consistently holds the reader’s interest by presenting individual profiles, looking at places dominated by extroverts (Harvard Business School) and introverts (a West Coast retreat center), and reporting on the latest studies. Her diligence, research, and passion for this important topic has richly paid off.
Publishers Weekly


The introvert/extrovert dichotomy is easily stereotyped in psychological literature: extroverts are buoyant and loud, introverts are shy and nerdy. Here, former corporate lawyer and negotiations consultant Cain gives a more nuanced portrait of introversion. Introverts are by nature more pensive, quiet, and solitary, but they can also act extroverted for the pursuit of their passions.... Verdict: This book is a pleasure to read and will make introverts and extroverts alike think twice about the best ways to be themselves and interact with differing personality types. Recommended to all readers. —Maryse Breton, Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, Montreal
Library Journal


An enlightened Wall Street survivor exhorts wallflowers everywhere to embrace their solitude-seeking souls and fully appreciate the power of the lone wolf. Could up to one-half of a nation obsessed with Jersey Shore narcissism and American Idol fame really be inhabited by reserved, sensitive types? According to Cain, yes—and we better start valuing their insight.... The author's insights are so rich that she could pen two separate books: one about parenting an introverted child, and another about how to make an introvert/extrovert relationship work. An intriguing and potentially life-altering examination of the human psyche that is sure to benefit both introverts and extroverts alike.
Kirkus Reviews



Discussion Questions
1. Based on the quiz in the book, do you think you’re an introvert, an extrovert, or an ambivert? Are you an introvert in some situations and an extrovert in others?

2. What about the important people in your lives—your partner, your friends, your kids?

3. Which parts of Quiet resonated most strongly with you? Were there parts you disagreed with—and if so, why?

4. Can you think of a time in your life when being an introvert proved to be an advantage?

5. Who are your favorite introverted role models?

6. Do you agree with the author that introverts can be good leaders? What role do you think charisma plays in leadership? Can introverts be charismatic?

7. If you’re an introvert, what do you find most challenging about working with extroverts?

8. If you’re an extrovert, what do you find most challenging about working with introverts?

9. Quiet explains how Western society evolved from a Culture of Character to a Culture of Personality. Are there enclaves in our society where a Culture of Character still holds sway? What would a twenty-first-century Culture of Character look like?

10. Quiet talks about the New Groupthink, the value system holding that creativity and productivity emerge from group work rather than individual thought. Have you experienced this in your own workplace?

11. Do you think your job suits your temperament? If not, what could you do to change things?

12. If you have children, how does your temperament compare to theirs? How do you handle areas in which you’re not temperamentally compatible?

13. If you’re in a relationship, how does your temperament compare to that of your partner? How do you handle areas in which you’re not compatible?

14. Do you enjoy social media such as Facebook and Twitter, and do you think this has something to do with your temperament?

15. Quiet talks about “restorative niches,” the places introverts go or the things they do to recharge their batteries. What are your favorite restorative niches?

16. Susan Cain calls for a Quiet Revolution. Would you like to see this kind of a movement take place, and if so, what is the number-one change you’d like to see happen?
(Questions issued by publisher.)

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