Quiet – Susan Cain

Quiet – Susan Cain

Title: Quiet
Author: Susan Cain
Genre: Science
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication Date: 24th January 2012
Pages: 271 (not including notes)
Rating: 4/5 stars

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For far too long, those who are naturally quiet, serious or sensitive have been overlooked. The loudest have taken over – even if they have nothing to say.

It’s time for everyone to listen. It’s time to harness the power of introverts. It’s time for Quiet.

I have always considered myself an introvert, though in recent years I believed that I was becoming more extroverted. At the same time as I was becoming happier in social situations, however, I grew more and more terrified of public speaking. This book was an incredibly useful insight into personality and social interaction.

A large portion of the book focused on the importance of introverts in the workplace, and also offered tips for parents of introverts. I may have glossed over these sections a little, preferring the chapters which spoke to the introverts themselves, rather than their bosses and families.

One of the theories that stuck with me most is the idea of the ‘pseudo-extrovert’, an idea indicating that introverts are more than capable of adopting an extroverted persona when it is required. I can identify myself in this idea; I am more than happy to socialise with enthusiasm for a short while, but I dread staying late at parties – I much prefer to be tucked up in bed with a book.

I also liked reading about self-monitoring and discovering that introverts are generally better at monitoring a situation and adapting their behaviour accordingly. While I had studied this aspect of personality in marketing and psychology, I never really considered applying it to myself. The fact that high self-monitors are generally better liars was also an interesting point. Watch out: I’m probably very good at concealing when I am lying!

The book is quite interactive. Every time a new concept is introduced, Cain includes a yes/no quiz for the reader to determine where they lie on a particular spectrum. I really enjoyed working through them, and discovering more about my personality than I had previously considered.

The white cover was a bit of a problem…. White always gets ridiculously dirty in my bag, and it makes me so upset! Luckily there wasn’t as much irony in a dirty front cover for Quiet as there was for The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying!

Cain uses Quiet to reassert the place introverts have in our society. Incredibly well-researched and totally fascinating, Quiet taught me a lot about myself and the way I interact with the world. In fact, it has encouraged me to go back to my introvert foundations, and lead life a little bit more quietly. Hopefully I’ll reap all the benefits of productivity and innovation when I stop exhausting myself with social activities (though Cain does still encourage some human interaction!)!!

This book isn’t just for introverts though. It provides a depth of understanding into the personality trait for everyone, whether you are an introvert yourself, or you want to relate to your resident introvert a little better. An excellent example of psychology writing – just enough information, succinct, and at no point does Cain use heavy jargon!

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