Book Review: Quiet

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why did I read it? My wife was reading it.  It was recommended to her by someone who noticed she craves and enjoys “alone time”.  I read it to better understand where she’s coming from and more correctly accept her in the ways she craves.

my rating: Wow, very insightful.  This book actually spoke directly to me as if it was speaking my thoughts and telling the story of my life.  Surprise, surprise, I’ve got a lot of introvert tendencies.  :)

it’s for you if… you are an introvert or know an introvert and would like to see things from their point of view.  Not sure if you’re an introvert?  Do you want to hit the ‘eject’ button when in social situations with new people?  Do you feel awkward making small talk in a check-out line?  Do you plan conversations in your head so you’ll actually say something this time and then let the moment slip by again?  When you’re stressed or drained, do you ‘recharge’ with alone time or time to yourself?  If you said “yes” to most of those questions, you might be an introvert.

it’s NOT for you if… what I’ve already said above doesn’t sound interesting to you.  If reading this book already sounds like a chore, don’t torture yourself with it, you’re probably not an introvert and you’re probably not in the mood to learn about it today.  No harm, no foul.

would I read it again?  Maybe.  This is an eye opening type of book.  It made me say “wow, that’s soooo me,” many times.  However, now that my eyes are open I don’t feel the need to read it again and again.  I “got it” the first time.  At the same time, the next time I’m doubting or forgetting the power I possess as an introvert, rereading this book would get my head straight again.

 

There are a couple major takeaways from this book.

  1. What is an introvert vs extrovert?
  2. Is being an introvert bad?
  3. Can you be both?
  4. As a country, is the USA a society of introverts or extroverts?
  5. How to cultivate and honor the introvert in your life.

Quiet does a fantastic job of describing what it’s like to be an introvert and an extrovert from within the minds over each as they look out at the world.  Both positions are positive ones.  All the reasons an introvert is an introvert involves all the ways they see, process, and interact with the world.  It’s the same with extroverts.  What’s great is, you don’t have to pick one or the other.  Quiet starts off by doing a great job giving an understanding of both points of view and then dispelling the myth that everyone is one or the other; on or off; black or white.

It turns out that both points of view exist in all of us at the same time.  We just tend to favor one over the other a little more.  For example, I took a personality test and scored 55% Introvert and 45% Extrovert.  So I’m very close to the middle of the scale and I crave both introvert and extrovert ways of viewing the world, interacting with the world, and “recharging my batteries”.  I crave time to myself to think and work but I also crave time with new people around me so I can interact with them.  When push comes to shove, I often fall into introvert tendencies and choices.  Hence, I have a website with a blog that I want to share ideas on (extrovert) but I often shy away from hitting the “Publish” button on most of the posts I write (introvert as a final choice).  I personally crave both collaborative interaction and creating on my own.

Once Quiet establishes what introvert and extrovert means and that they are simply opposites sides of the same scale, the book focuses on the introvert’s point of view and struggles.  Most amazingly, to me anyway, is the realization that the USA is an extroverted society.  I had never even hard of classifying a social group as introvert or extrovert.  It’s so obvious once it’s said out loud but so easy to miss when you’re in the thick of it.  How does someone rise in the USA?  How does one become successful?  What type of person do we look up to?  Is it the quiet ones –the thinkers and the readers?  Or is it the loud ones –the talkers and the TV celebrities?

This thought brings a major theme of the book into focus: an introvert in an extroverted society will be seen as having something “wrong” with them.  An extroverted society will naturally apply pressure to introverts with notes on A+ report cards that say, “I wish they would speak up more in class.”  However, being an introvert is not something to hide or fix.  Maybe everyone else should be quiet more so we can read and think.

What about the opposite situation?  What about an extrovert in an introverted society?  What about a “typical loud american” walking around in a society that values quiet thoughtfulness and polite genital interaction –like Japan.  Wouldn’t an introverted society naturally apply pressure to extroverts with notes on report cards that say, “I wish they would stop talking so much so the class can study.”  (( –Wow. I *just* realized why I personally gravitated towards eastern philosophy like Tao Te Ching.  I’m an introvert reading about a socially acceptable introvert approach to life that values calmness and thinking.))

What about your office?  Is your workplace introverted or extroverted by nature and are you in alignment with it or valued for your opposing personality?

These are the thought provoking types of ideas Susan Cain very successfully explores in Quiet.  This is why the subtitle to the book is so powerful: “The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking.”

I promise you, my post here is just the tip of the iceberg and there is so much more to absorb from this book.  I recommend Quiet to all the shy, quiet, thoughtful, polite people out there who often feel out of place and overstimulated in our loud society.  You have power too.  Learn about it and embrace it.

Here’s a link to Amazon.com: Quiet