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Quiet, the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking by Susan Cain

on September 14, 2020

Susan Cain was a long time Wall Street finance lawyer who now focuses on her passion for writing and psychology. Quiet was published in 2016 but she has been researching introverts and sensitivity since 2005. Cain identifies herself as an introvert. She presents many anecdotal situations from her extensive interactions and interviews of various people from both sides of the introversion and extroversion spectrum as well as presents findings and theories by researchers and scholarly works.

I chose this book because I identify as an introvert and thought it might be helpful as well as interesting. She explains that there are no absolute definitions of introvert/extrovert but provides common behaviors that are associated with both groups as well as explains that it’s not so black & white. There are varying degrees like closeted introverts or situational circumstances. She provides neurological evidence and research that gives us an idea what is going on in the brain as well as theories that help introverts rationalize their behaviors as they dip into the side of extroverts. You might have experienced this when someone demonstrates more extrovert behaviors but surprisingly states they are introverted.

Cain provides a simple set of questions based on the Myers & Briggs test if you are curious about yourself. I found a free website that you can try. https://www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test  It will shed a little light about yourself and actions. For example, I’m not going to be the first to jump up and volunteer to speak in front of a crowd. However, I preform this task because I love my job and this just a small circumstance that happens occasionally. Cain explains that we introverts can become more comfortable in this situation by desensitizing ourselves through practice, small doses and repetition. We can also prepare for the situation and have a restorative niche planned for afterwards. This is a place (temporal or physical) you can go to return to your true self and recharge. I am mentally and physically exhausted after my demonstrations. My supervisor knows me well enough that this demo should be scheduled to conclude near quitting time. My coworkers know that the last thing I would want to do is go to some noisy bar after work and won’t take it personally that I don’t attend.  

Managers and coworkers can maximize on the introverted strengths and not perceive their behaviors as weaknesses, laziness or uninterested. Being aware during this time of a culture of personality that assertiveness and eloquence doesn’t always equate to good ideas. Creative ideas can be lost because of group dynamics, allow your introverts to work on ideas/solutions before sharing. Maybe have them submit it electronically or in writing. They may not speak up during those brainstorming sessions. Also, let your Introverts manage a proactive work force, they will perform better then with an extrovert leader. For libraries, they need to plan for a few small nooks and quiet spots when renovations and UX are being considered. It’s not just about the big open floor plans. This will promote more learning and reflection opportunities for introverted users.  Librarians can help parents recognize, cope and research introversion in children. Maybe even provide a social skills workshop at the library. She also provides suggestions for parents and teachers when dealing with introverted or highly reactive children. The best suggestion was to work with the children’s reaction to novelty regarding people, places and things. Patiently exposing them gradually and in low doses.  When grouping needs to occur, they should consist of small and be casual in nature. Also putting them at ease by maybe sharing a similar childhood experience as well as informing them that this is a natural and normal feeling they are experiencing.

7 Responses to “Quiet, the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking by Susan Cain”

  1. Jen says:

    Excellent infographic! I have not read the book Quiet, but I already feel like I have a tiny grasp of the bigger concepts covered in it!
    Thanks for your post,

  2. Kimberley says:

    Christine, I enjoyed your review of Quiet. I’ve heard enough about it, from this class and other places, that I’ve picked it up and am about halfway through.

    It’s funny to see how other personality traits interact with introversion and extroversion. I’m an introvert, but if I am prepared, I have no problem with speeches or presentations! I do agree with not going out to a noisy bar afterwards though…that takes a lot of mental preparation for me!

    I really liked your last paragraph explaining how to understand and help introverts when needed. All of it is so true!

    Thanks for your post!

    • Hi Kimberly @mybluecastle,

      I hope I’m doing this right with the naming and all?

      I was surprised how many people chose to do this book to review. Thank you for sharing about yourself and relating to this subject matter. We all have our workarounds of some kind. Enjoy the rest of the book!

      After I submitted the post I forgot to mention that librarians need to pay close attention to posted comments from their library users. Most introverts prefer writing to voicing their thoughts and concerns.


  3. Valuing the perspectives of introverts has been often overlooked in our American culture. I like that this book celebrates what all types of people have to offer and gives concrete examples for managers to include introverts. Great review!

    • Hi Sarah @mettlsa,

      True, this book does speak about extroverts as well but I chose to focus on the introverts a bit more. It was weird, as I read about them and some of their situations it made me a little uneasy. It is valuable to have both perspectives though. Thanks for sharing.


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