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Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking

by Gaurav Goswami
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The book Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking by Susan Cain throws light on the unrevealed facts of introvert traits which makes being an introvert not only normal but cool as well.

Changing notion

The book ‘Quiet’ introduces the reader to a profound social bias in favor of extroverts; with the popular belief that the ideal self is gregarious, alpha and comfortable under spotlight. Susan Cain, a corporate lawyer, TED talker and a confident introvert turned author of this book argues that society dramatically undervalues introverts and shows how much society loses by doing so, and backs her belief by introducing the reader to successful introverts throughout the book. Author also dispels the thinking that, one with extrovert traits works well in teams and social groups more than an introvert. She points out that the assumption, extroverts are the most effective communicators and thus make the best leaders, is wrong.

Introvert vs extrovert

Introvert denotes a personality style that is often more reserved, contemplative and passive, while an extrovert has characteristic traits like assertiveness, charisma, gregariousness and social dominance. In other words, introverts are drawn to the inner world of thought and feeling, while extroverts plunge into events themselves. Another difference between the two is that while introverts recharge their batteries by being alone, extroverts recharge it while socializing.

The main sections of the book

The book is divided into following parts:

First part, the extrovert ideal; the second part, your biology yourself;the third part, do all cultures have an external ideal?; The fourth part, how to love, how to work, and finally the conclusion, Wonderland.

The extrovert ideal

This part focuses on the concept ‘the Omni present belief that the ideal self is gregarious, alpha and comfortable in the spotlight. Author discusses the historical creation of ‘culture of personality’ and its personification in many of most celebrated political, educational and cultural institutions. Susan Cain also discusses positive characteristics that are attributed to introverts, such as creativity and answers whether that is a true reflection. The part also shows that leadership approaches typically favored by introverts are more effective, for example introverted visionaries like Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, etc.

Your biology, yourself

This part of the book focuses on the connection between temperament and personality, and various studies that have examined the influence of innate, inborn temperament on personality type. Susan Cain uses scientific evidence to express her ‘rubber band theory’ of personality, according to which ‘we are elastic and can stretch ourselves beyond our innate traits, but only within certain limits. Author also discusses things that are lost or gained by being either an introvert or an extrovert.

Do all cultures have an extrovert ideal?

This part of the book examines the idea that the extrovert ideal is an American standard that is not typical in other cultures and states that other cultures do not emphasize the extrovert culture ideal. Susan Cain has taken Mahatma Gandhi as an example of ‘a classic introvert that found power in his shyness.’

How to love, how to work

In this part of the book the author examines ways in which extroverts and introverts can work effectively in comfortable and collaborative relationships, communicate and understand one another, develop friendships and intimate relationships, and live longer like the member of the same family.

Wonderland

In conclusion Susan Cain urges that ‘the reader to be true to their self, and put themselves in situations that goes well with their personality,’ rather than forcing uncomfortable situations. The author also argues the point ‘how to foster traits such as depth and sensibility,’ rather than trying to force introverted children to be extroverted.

A health mix of two

Susan Cain argues that over the top extrovert traits show ebullience, excitability, dominance, risk taking, thick skin, boldness and a tendency towards quick thinking, and thoughtless action leads to reward seeking tendencies resulting in disasters like Enron, financial meltdown of 2008, etc. So a balance needs to be established between those who rush to speak and do, and those who sit back and think. For example, introverts who according to the author count among their many virtues the fact that they are relatively immune to the lures of wealth and fame, must learn to embrace the power of quiet, and on the other hand extroverts should learn to sit down, shut up and listen. Having said that it is also true that extroverts are more likely to get book deals, art exhibitions, etc., than their introverted counterparts, case in point Susan Cain the author of this book, a self-confessed introvert, had to persuade a publisher, that she could conquer her stage fright and promote herself at book festivals before the publisher agreed to take her on. So the important point to keep into consideration is - use both of the character traits, introvert and extrovert, according to the want of the situation. And remember ‘no one is completely introverted or extroverted and we have a mixture of two traits.’

The book is for everyone

The book is much more than mere quick checklist about how to decide whether one is an introvert or not, and provides tips about how one unleashes his/her abilities to feel more appreciated. Susan Cain’s idea of writing this book conveys to introverts, which a large portion of the reading public is, how awesome they are, and how important their contribution is or can be for their own or for the betterment of the world at large. And finally: it would be wrong for any potential, extrovert reader, to assume that this book caters only to introverts, the presumption is incorrect. In fact this book provides extroverts an understanding of how to bring out the best from their introvert companion, colleagues, partners or child.

Book Details

Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking

Author – Susan Cain.

Publisher – Crown Publishing Group.

Genre – Non-fiction (Self-help).

Published date – January 24, 2012.

Number of pages – 333 (paperback).

Language – English.

Book price – Rs 375/-



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