I heard Susan Cain speak at a recent conference.  I bought her book and read it!  I’m glad I did!

Cain contends that many people pretend to be extroverts because that’s what society expects, admires, and promotes.  She says that some people act like extroverts, but the effort costs them in energy, authenticity, and even physical health.   It’s difficult to be “a quiet person in a loudmouth world.” 

Cain says that much that has happened and continues to happen in the world is actually accomplished by introverts.  “Neither E=mc2 nor Paradise Lost was dashed off by a party animal.”  Some of the best leaders, thinkers, artists, CEO’s, preachers, scientists, etc., have been known not for their flash and charisma, but for their extreme humility and quietness.

QUIET covers a multitude of subjects such as societal norms and expectations, temperament, personality, communication, self-diagnosis, and how to cultivate quiet kids in world that can’t hear them (a great chapter, by the way).

Cain bases her conclusions on her own life experiences, her study of (sometimes very) technical data in this area and makes some introductory conclusions…

Introverts are drawn to the inner world of thought and feeling; extroverts are drawn to the external life of people and activities.

Introverts focus on the meaning they make of the events swirling around them; extroverts plunge into the events themselves.

Introverts recharge their batteries by being alone; extroverts recharge by socializing.

Introverts create their own stimulation; extroverts depend on outside sources of stimulation.

Introverts enjoy depth; extroverts enjoy breadth.

Introverts work more slowly and deliberately; are immune to the lures of wealth and fame; may enjoy parties and business meetings but after a while wish they were at home in their pajamas; enjoy deep discussions but have a horror of small talk.

Cain contends that often “teamwork” is not the way to go.  She reminds us that some people do better “by themselves” and she even criticizes public school education that demands students always work in “groups”.

Cain encourages introverts to honor their own styles instead of allowing themselves to be swept up by prevailing norms.  She encourages introverts to “deploy the powers of quiet.”

“I am a horse for a single harness, not cut out for tandem or teamwork…for well I know that in order to attain any definite goal, it is imperative that ONE PERSON do the thinking and the commanding.”  (Albert Einstein)


On Cain’s scale of introvertedness, I scored 15 out of 20.  Not surprising to me, I’m by nature an introvert.  I talk a lot because of the profession I’m in – not necessarily because I enjoy talking a lot!  This book gave me some peace about being who I am.   As a result, I made some specific determinations to ratchet down some of my verbal output and enjoy the quiet.

As a leader, Cain reminded me that “quiet leadership is not an oxymoron.”  Profound.

Check out the website.

I highly recommend this book.

~ by jackpickel on December 10, 2012.

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