Flap Copy: Passionately argued, impressively researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet shows how dramatically we undervalue introverts, and how much we lose in doing so. Taking the reader on a journey from Dale Carnegie’s birthplace to Harvard Business School, from a Tony Robbins seminar to an evangelical megachurch, Susan Cain charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal in the twentieth century and explores its far-reaching effects. She talks to Asian-American students who feel alienated from the brash, backslapping atmosphere of American schools. She questions the dominant values of American business culture, where forced collaboration can stand in the way of innovation, and where the leadership potential of introverts is often overlooked. And she draws on cutting-edge research in psychology and neuroscience to reveal the surprising differences between extroverts and introverts.

This extraordinary book has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how introverts see themselves.

Review: I’ve known that I am an introvert for many years, and I really haven’t had a problem with that. I don’t feel like I need to be other than I am to be successful, because I’ve realized that I don’t want some of the trappings of success that our extroverted society has deemed necessary or desirable. Still, Quiet blew my mind. Literally filled with anecdotes of people both mundane and famous, Quiet laid to rest my sometimes nagging anxiety that I’m the only one who wants to go hide in the bathroom instead of meet more clients. I had a three day weekend sales conference the weekend I finished the book, and while I found it incredibly helpful to meet these people in person, I was so drained I had to take a day off just to start feeling like myself again. Turns out: that’s normal!

If you are an introvert, or know and love one (and chances are you do), I really can’t recommend this book enough. Every chapter is full of information to thoughtfully consider and apply, and I’ll just give one example. Towards the end of the book, author Susan Cain listed a three-step process to identify your own core passions.

  1. Think back to what you loved to do as a child. Consider not just the urge (ballet dancer!) but the underlying impulses (to be graceful, to wear a costume, to receive applause). How can those desires be achieved in your adult life and work?
  2. Pay attention to the work you gravitate towards. What are the projects you volunteer for at work? What about volunteer work in your free time?
  3. Pay attention to what you envy. “You mostly envy those who have what you desire.”

I used to think it was strange, that I, an easily identifiable introvert, majored in broadcasting in college. Despite being a bookworm as a kid, I started a neighborhood newspaper and a “radio station” on cassette tape. I don’t mind public speaking if I am trying to share information or teach. I interned at a radio station and I volunteered for one as an adult. I envy people who have bylines in The New York Times for informational pieces, people who are known for their opinions. All of these things together seem like someone who would be rather extroverted and outgoing and like talking to new people – which I don’t. But looking at the underlying impulses, it’s not strange at all – I like to communicate! Like many introverts, I find immense satisfaction and enjoyment from the process of learning and sharing information. I prefer consuming that information in solitary ways – listening to the radio, reading blogs, books and newspapers. I also prefer to share that information in forums that feel one-on-one (blogging, broadcasting) even if they are really one-to-many. But my passion for communication has also led me to public speaking, guest teaching, and on-air radio jobs, all of which I have found invigorating and fun when I remember to give myself quiet space and time to rejuvenate as well.

This simple understanding of myself would have made the book worth its purchase price, and there were many more. This one will go on the shelf next to Deborah Tannen and David Keirsey.

Source: I received an advance reader’s copy, with no obligation to review.

It’s not strange at all – I like to communicate!

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