Quiet by Susan Cain looks at both the strengths and needs of introverts and extroverts.
In this book, you’ll learn how to use the personal attributes of both personality types in various situations and how to use their strengths to the fullest.
You may be wondering if you should read the book. This book review will tell you what important lessons you can learn from this book so you can decide if it is worth your time.
At the end of this book review, I’ll also tell you the best way to get rich by reading and writing.
Without further ado, let’s get started.
Quiet Book Summary
Lesson 1: The ideal of extroversion is developed over the last 150 years.
Dale Carnegie grew up in a small Missouri town in the early twentieth century. He was not a great speaker and embodied the typical introvert: thin, unathletic, and nervous.
But when a speaker from the adult education movement visited Carnegie in his hometown, he was fascinated by the man’s oratory. He was also impressed by the future leaders who had won the public speaking competition at the college.
Carnegie was a determined and hard-working man. Over time, he developed into a masterful orator and a celebrity on campus. After graduating from college, he was a bacon and soap salesman, where his winning smile and firm handshake earned him customers throughout the United States. He later founded the Dale Carnegie Institute, which teaches business people how to overcome their fears of public speaking.
Interestingly, Carnegie’s transformation reflected a general shift in twentieth-century America – the shift from rural to urban values.
In nineteenth-century America, communities tended to be quite small and tight-knit. A person was admired and respected by his neighbors if he worked diligently, acted honorably, and protected the rights of his fellow citizens. There was no need to draw attention to oneself or to proclaim one’s character. Everyone in the community could see for themselves.
The economic boom of the early twentieth century, however, broke down these social structures; more and more people moved from the countryside to the anonymity of the big, bustling cities, where the prevailing motto was, “If you want to win others over, you have to know how to sell yourself.”
The new ideal of the successful American meant being cheeky, open, and affable, using one’s own charm playfully while appearing to be an intelligent person.
Today’s advertising also reflects this change. For example, a shaving cream manufacturer in the 1930s warned consumers, “CRITICAL EYES ARE SIZING YOU UP RIGHT NOW.”
Since the early 20th century, the ideal person has been someone who is full of life, who makes us forget our problems and fascinates us with his charisma.
Lesson 2: Introverts can pretend to be sociable by switching to extroverted mode.
Every ambitious introvert eventually finds himself in a situation where extroversion is essential. Think of the role of a university professor. Imagine a shy and reserved professor who is eager to inspire her students.
She may be naturally reserved, but that does not mean she can not be outgoing when the situation calls for it. She can learn to control her extroversion at will by looking closely at herself and others and applying what she learns.
So what does she do when she stands on the podium? She walks toward the podium with purposeful steps, delivers her talk with crystal clarity, and keeps her shoulders back and her body relaxed – all the hallmarks of an extrovert.
This is how she is able to achieve her goal, because her lectures are always full and her students are constantly asking for recommendations. This method also makes her academic life much easier.
After the professor completes her all-important task – delivering an engaging lecture – she retreats to a quiet corner of the library to enjoy the lack of social interaction.
Some introverts, of course, find it harder than others to shift gears. However, research shows that some introverts can temporarily shed their shyness and become active in social situations when they are strongly enough motivated to do so, such as when trying to achieve a challenging goal.
Lesson 3: Companies should not create environments where only extroverted workers thrive.
Many companies believe that their employees will perform at their best if office conditions conform to the ideal of the extroverted worker. This has led to the widespread practice of holding workshops with participants and presenting the results of these sessions in interactive PowerPoint presentations, all conducted in open-plan offices.
So how do shy people cope with working in a collaborative environment? It’s noisy, they are constantly interrupted, and their colleagues are openly hostile. They are bombarded with stress-inducing stimuli. Is it realistic to expect them to perform well and reach their full potential in this environment?
The many accomplishments of large groups in recent decades confirm the idea that teamwork is optimal. One need only look at Wikipedia or the Linux operating system.
However, this overlooks a crucial difference: While large groups of people are responsible for these achievements, the actual teamwork rarely takes place in an open-plan office or meeting room. Instead, programmers often work alone from home.
Many remarkable and innovative developments have taken place behind closed doors. The first Apple computer was built by Steve Wozniak in his garage, Newton developed his theory of gravity without the help of a team, and J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter all by herself.
Extroverts are comfortable in today’s modern workplaces. But companies run the risk of missing out on opportunities if they do not value their reserved employees. Steve Wozniak wrote in his autobiography that many of the most talented creatives he knew were also artists who were most productive when left alone. If your company is fortunate enough to employ such a person, he or she should be allowed to pursue revolutionary projects independently, rather than being locked into committees or teams.
Make your office space more adaptable to accommodate both extroverts and introverts. This includes providing opportunities for group work and for individuals to work independently. Using retractable walls is a good option, as they allow for both openness and privacy.
Lesson 4: Only a masterful leader can bring together the best qualities of those who are more reserved and those who are more outgoing.
How can companies make the most of the talents of both their introverts and extroverts? That’s what researchers set out to find out, giving different groups the task of folding T-shirts quickly while being guided by either an extrovert or an introvert.
While extroverted team leaders were excellent at making sure their team followed all the procedures to the letter and produced excellent results, they had difficulty incorporating their employees’ ideas, such as how to fold T-shirts faster and more efficiently.
The study found that the opposite was true for introverted team leaders. Their reserved demeanor made it difficult for them to inspire their teammates and motivate them to work harder, but they were more open to their group’s suggestions and took every opportunity to implement the best ones.
An extroverted leadership style may be best in the workplace when the primary goal is to get things done as quickly as possible. However, when team members want to participate and contribute their own ideas, an introverted leader is a necessity.
During the 2008 financial crisis, another difference between extroverted and introverted leaders became apparent: leaders who are more extroverted often make snap judgments with little information. It is true that many of these executives had used corporate money in speculative ventures. But they paid a high price when the bubble burst.
Introverted executives, on the other hand, tend to gather extensive data before acting. As a result of their cautious investments, companies led by introverts fared better during the financial crisis.
Where do we go from here, and what have we learned? Extroverted leaders are ideal when quick decisions need to be made, while introverted leaders are preferable when careful thought is required.
In general, leaders who are more extroverted should learn to recognize the value of their introverted employees. Every character type can learn something from every other.
Quiet Book Review
Quiet is a great book I’d like to recommend to anyone who is interested in psychology.
In any community, the talents of both introverts and extroverts can be invaluable. Both characters need their own space to develop to the fullest.
The ideas in this book are inspiring. While not all introverts will be able to relate to the content of this book, I think it’s great that my assumptions about the world have been challenged (e.g., raising your voice in an argument is interpreted as an attack).
However, for introverts it is a sign of shyness, for extroverts, it is a sign of enthusiasm and commitment.
About the Author
Susan Cain, a Harvard Law School, and Princeton graduate is a self-described introvert and author.
Buy The Book: Quiet
If you want to buy the book Quiet, you can get it from the following links:
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