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Quiet by Susan Cain Pdf & Summary | 357 Pages

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking is a 2012 nonfiction book written by American author and lecturer Susan Cain.

Quiet Summary

Described by Scientific American as “part book, part manifesto,” Susan Cain’s 2012 nonfiction bestseller Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking is a polemical rehabilitation of the “introvert” personality type. B

asing her writing in part on her experiences as an introvert in settings where extraversion was more valued, and in part on a variety of scientific studies, Cain claims that Western culture relies on an “extravert ideal” as a shorthand for unrelated positive character traits. Instead of dismissing or pathologizing introverts, Cain argues that their capabilities need to be championed and properly valued.

Quiet is divided into several sections: first, a thorough re-definition of introversion and a history of how this very common character type became devalued; second, a discussion of the benefits of introversion and the drawbacks of extraversion at work; third, a quick look at the ways in which introverts function within their families of origin and romantic relationships; and finally a way of moving forward toward greater introvert acceptance.

Still, although the book covers how the extravert/introvert divide affects all aspects of life, Cain’s core focus is on the world of work.

The book opens with several sweeping historical statements. First, that Western societies are based on the Ancient Greco-Roman model of valuing leaders who excel in public oratory and activity rather than introspection and caution, which was later held up in 19th-century America as the model of the business-oriented man.

This is unlike, for example, the ancient cultures of the Far East, which instead stressed discretion, contemplation, and prudence. In Cain’s view, this preference for those given to public performance has given rise to the “extrovert ideal” – the view that human nature at its best is highly sociable, loud, and benignly dominating.

But Cain’s project seeks to redefine introversion, and move it away from simply being the opposite of what Western society wants people to be like.

Instead, she says introverts are simply people who prefer an environment with less external stimuli – they tend to consider before speaking, avoid reckless behavior, and in interactions seek intrinsic meaning rather than surface style. Extroverts, on the other hand, prefer thinking on their feet and are energized by extensive engagement with others.

The key thing for Cain is to separate introversion from shyness, which for her is more defined by fear rather than quiet, from anti-social behavior, which is motivated by antipathy or anger, and from autism, which is categorized by an inability to read social cues. When seen in Cain’s way, about one third of Americans are introverts, although these qualities are on a spectrum.

The main thrust of Cain’s book is that we need to get away from overvaluing extraverts and undervaluing introverts in the workplace.

Drawing on a variety of sources, she points to studies showing that there is no reason to equate being a good speaker with being a good leader, that brainstorming simply isolates the most dominant personality in a group rather than the best ideas, and that by relying on group work rather than individual contributions we promote social cohesion and conflict avoidance over justice, reason, proper risk assessment, and creative problem solving.


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About the Author

Susan Horowitz Cain is an American writer and lecturer. She is the author of the 2012 non-fiction book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, which argues that modern Western culture misunderstands and undervalues the traits and capabilities of introverted people.

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