August 2nd, 2014

Review: Quiet by Susan Cain

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

In a world that values extroversion and the character traits that embody it, the capabilities and benefits of an introverted personality are lost. This, argues Susan Cain, is to the detriment of society. Starting with an outline of the Extrovert Ideal and its influence on Western, and especially American, culture, Cain traces how the history of the United States led to a personality-driven culture that favors extroverts. She moves on to describe the characteristics of an introvert and how one’s placement on the introvert-extrovert spectrum impacts everything in life from the friends made to the careers preferred. Cain also studies many of the ways introverts struggle to cultivate a “pseudo-extrovert” persona to cope with others, and the ways this both benefits and hurts them at home, at work, and in the world. The final sections of the book largely focus on children and the way introversion impacts their development and growth, and how parents can help them fully realize their potential.

I’ve always figured that I must be pretty far over on the introvert spectrum, because I find other people extremely draining and prefer to work by myself when possible, so I wasn’t surprised to recognize myself in a lot of Cain’s stories. But this book is far more than a cheerleader shouting, “It’s OK to be quiet and introverted!” It’s actually a very clinical book packed with case studies that study every aspect of introverted life. I was fascinated to learn that babies who are more sensitive to external stimulation tend to become introverts, almost as if the world is too overwhelming so they have to shut it out, yet introverts also appear to be less responsive to dopamine, which makes them more cautious. Another study disproved the popular belief that open office plans, so popular in the offices of the tech companies here in Silicon Valley, are not any more effective than traditional cubicles and in some cases may even be less effective when it comes to problem solving and creative solutions.

There isn’t a lot of practical advice for introverts, but there are a few useful examples. In one chapter, Cain dissects the interactions of a couple where the husband is an extrovert and the wife is an introvert, looking at some of the problems that come up consistently in their relationship and offering proposals to help them manage. She also devotes a few pages to raising children, offering tips for both introverted and extroverted parents to help raise their kids, whether introverts or extroverts, in ways that will accept and even promote their natural talents, wherever the fall on the spectrum.

5 out of 5 stars

To read more about Quiet, buy it or add it to your wishlist click here.

Peeking into the in:
2013: The Boleyn King by Lauren Andersen
2012: Fashionista Piranha on break until August 14th
2011: Bumped by Megan McCafferty
2010: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
2009: Book Trailer: Sacred Hearts
2008: Bottomfeeder by Taras Grescoe