Tuesday, August 27, 2013

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

Summary:  The book that started the quiet revolution.

At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over working in teams.  It is to introverts--Rosa Parks, Chopin, Dr. Seuss, Steve Wozniak--that we owe many of the great contributions to society.

In Quiet, Susan Cain argues that we dramatically undervalue introverts and shows how much we lose in doing so.  She charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal throughout the twentieth century and explores how deeply it has come to permeate our culture.  She also introduces us to successful introverts--from a witty, high-octane public speaker who recharges in solitude after his talks, to a record-breaking salesman who quietly taps into the power of questions.  Passionately argued, superbly researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how they see themselves.  (Summary from back of the book and image from www.amazon.com)

My Review:  I LOVED this book--wrote in the margins, took my time to really digest it, have been talking about it for days, LOVED this book.  I think my husband is sick of me.

I'm from a family of introverts.  While that may seem like the logical reason I liked the book, it's not.  I had never viewed myself as an introvert.  I felt I was the black sheep of the family, the gregarious one, the talker.  And I guess if you compare me to my parents or siblings, I am.  But, that's not saying much really.  What I didn't understand was the concept of anxious introverts, anxious extroverts, confident introverts, and confident extroverts.  In my mind, only two of those categories existed: anxious introverts and confident extroverts.  I always figured I was some sort of extrovert because I am not typically anxious.  And now I know: I am a confident introvert.  So much of my life makes sense now.  So many of my reactions, decisions, disposition as a child and adult, even a baby make sense now.  What's better, I understand my children now.  Truly, this book has made that big of a difference in my life.  I have a child who is an anxious introvert, and a child who is an anxious extrovert.  I couldn't understand my anxious extrovert because, while I understood anxious introverts from my family growing up, I had never been intimately exposed to one.  Now I understand why she needs constant stimulation (playdates, activities, lessons, things to look forward to, etc.).  

I also understand my husband better.  The last part of the book gives examples of couples who are opposites (introvert/extrovert).  It helped me understand how my husband thinks, why he does things the way he does, and how he responds to life. For the longest time I simply couldn't understand why people make certain decisions--because what they did was so illogical.  Now I know the motivating factors in making decisions are different for introverts and extroverts--introverts is fear and extroverts is rewards.  I can now relate better to my husband and child with the decisions they make.  The logic is finally clear!  And (now that I understand) I am much better at communicating and relating to both of them.  For the longest time I just figured they weren't logical thinkers. 

Some of my favorite chapters were on stimulation.  This was the part of the book that made it clear whether I was an introvert or extrovert.  Early in the book how you are rejuvenated is explained and how that defines you.  One of my favorite quotes is: "Over-arousal [re: stimulation] doesn't produce anxiety so much as the sense that you can't think straight--that you've had enough and would like to go home now.  Under-arousal is something like cabin fever.  Not enough is happening; you feel itchy, restless, and sluggish, like you need to get out of the house already." (pg. 123)  Reading this helped me understand how my daughter and husband see the world and why my daughter is bouncing off the walls when we stay home and my husband simply cannot travel enough.  The first part of the quote explains why in certain situations I simply shut down and stop functioning--I never understood why I did this until now.  Cain goes further explaining how stimulant sensitive introverts notice everything, take everything in.  When this occurs they hit over-load need to retreat from it all--I've been there many times.  I may be confident, not scared to present information in front of large groups of people (if I'm able to prepare and know my subject matter well enough), but when it's over I'm drained and just want to be alone--running, reading, writing, or simply sitting and thinking.

Everything just makes so much more sense!  If you can't tell, I'm sold on this book.  Read it.  Read it to understand yourself, your partner, your child, your co-workers, whomever you need to understand.  I only wish I had read it sooner!

Rating: 5 stars--I don't give 5 stars often, so in my mind it's really that good

Sum it up:  Do you want to understand yourself and others better?  Read this book!


Anonymous said...

So glad you've helped me find out what kind of introvert I am. Like you, I fall into the category, I think, of confident introvert. I do well when I have to in crowds, etc., but do love my aloneness. You've also convinced me I have to read this to figure out my husband. :)

AH said...

Great review. I read Quiet in March of this year and it is still giving me food for thought. Thank you for the excellent summary.

Unknown said...

Love the review! I am adding this to my to-read list!


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