Quiet – Susan Cain [Book Summary]

by Nick

Introverts focus on the strengths and needs of introverts and extroverts. The book shows situations in which both types of personalities feel comfortable and the ways in which they can use their full potential.

Susan Kane is an author with experience in the field of law. In addition to Introverts on her author list, The Rise of the New Groupthink, in The New York Times and Don`t Call Introverted Children `Shy` in Time magazine.

This book is available as:

Audiobook | eBook Print

Extroverts Love Noise and Need Incentives; Introverts Like to Be Alone and Think

What factors determine our personality?

One of the many criteria is the division into introverts and extroverts.

Extroverts are sociable and friendly. They interact with other people when there is such an opportunity, like to be in the spotlight, often in society and need to be surrounded by people. For them, the number of acquaintances, friends on Facebook and followers on Twitter is an indicator of their social status.

In search of success, extroverts are prone to glee and euphoria. They need the approval of others and quick success. When extroverts lose money in the stock market, they subsequently invest even larger amounts at an even faster rate.

Introverts, on the contrary, prefer calm situations and introspection, bordering on “self-digging.” If they have lost money on speculation, they will need time to analyze the financial market again before investing more money.

Their tendency to analyze all their experiences and sensations allows them to achieve magnificent artistic and intellectual heights. Introverts are able to make a profit in the stock market during the crisis, and they were the brain of such achievements of mankind as Schindler’s List and the theory of relativity.

Introverts can do such things because they like to spend time calmly – alone or with small groups of people, and can talk about personal and social problems. While extroverts tend to have many superficial acquaintances, introverts prefer deeper, friendlier relationships, albeit in smaller numbers.

Many introverts are very sensitive: that is, they are very responsive to the environment.

The vast majority of introverts have another unifying character trait – they are very sensitive. Extroverts rarely exhibit a similar trait.

People who are very sensitive tend to process information from the external environment in an unusually thorough manner. For example, if they are asked to assemble a puzzle, they will devote more time to observe and take a more active part in compiling the overall picture than less sensitive colleagues.

As a result of this difficult path of knowledge, highly sensitive people find thoughtful conversations about values ​​and morality to be much more stimulating than superficial jokes and tales of past holidays in college. While extroverts engage in small talk, introverts discuss climate change.

The intensive processing of information by highly sensitive people is also noticeable in their sympathy. They perceive tragedy and cruelty more emotionally than others.

Their skin seems thinner and gives them less protection from the flow of impressions pouring on them daily. Therefore, introverts have a strict moral position: they are aware of the consequences of their behavior and tend to take their mistakes to heart.

For these very sensitive people, a positive assessment of others is very important, which leads to the fact that they need to make an effort on themselves in order to meet new people or get an interview.

Thus, highly sensitive people feel emotions more sharply, notice changes more quickly, and react more strongly to images, sounds, pain or stimulants such as coffee, for example.

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The Difference in the Head: the Brain of the Introverts Shows a Stronger Reaction to External Stimuli

We all feel differently comfortable in different situations. Some people think that there is no greater pleasure than sitting in a library and a disco club is incomprehensible to them.

Others are the polar opposite: there is no place where they feel more comfortable than among the pulsating mass of people, and only one day in the library is able to drive them crazy. Why are there such sharp differences among people?

To answer this question, psychologists and other researchers observed how infants reacted to certain stimuli. To this end, they held cotton swabs dipped in alcohol under the noses of infants while playing a record of bursting balloons. The reactions of children reflected two very different behavioral structures: twenty percent of the children were in the high response category, which means that they reacted to irritants with screams and tugged at their feet. Their pulse and blood pressure rose sharply. Forty percent of infants fell into the inactive category, which means that they remained calm and did not respond well to stimuli.

These reactions are controlled by the “emotional commutator” of the human brain – the amygdala. First of all, our senses send information about all the stimuli that they receive from the outside world to the amygdala, which determines our response to this stimulus.

The amygdala of highly responsive people is extremely sensitive. Since these people react especially strongly to external stimuli, in the end, they give preference to the environment with their lower content, for example, libraries, and become attentive and focused – introverts.

On the other hand, the brains of people with low levels of responsiveness respond poorly to new experiences. That is why in childhood these people are resistant to ordinary stimuli and look for a more stimulating environment, developing into indifferent, lively extroverts.

Introverted Children Are Like Orchids: They Bloom Only in the Right Environment

Our character is formed not only by biology and genetics but also by the experience that we accumulate throughout our lives. In a special way, experiences from childhood.

Extraverted children react to environmental influences like dandelions: they thrive anywhere and are practically unable to be outcasts. Introverted children are more like orchids: in a favorable environment, they bloom, and in the wrong, they die. How can parents better meet the needs of their introvert children?

To treat them with respect, empathy and participation will be good for a start. It is important for parents to recognize that their child is an introvert, and to understand why he feels discomfort in certain situations, especially those that affect a large number of people.

In the best case, parents introduce their introverted children to such experiences gradually. If the child is afraid to speak to other people, parents could first encourage the child to speak to friends they trust and gradually increase the number of people the child faces. In this way, the child can develop enough self-awareness to one day wake up and speak to the whole class.

When introverted children receive the right upbringing, they can build confidence in themselves and learn to develop their skills constructively. But when they are under pressure, overexcited or isolated, they are more likely to suffer from depression or mental disorders.

In the Western World, the Idea of Successful Extroverts Prevails

Who would you consider more competent: an extrovert that attracts other people’s attention and sets the tone, or an introvert who sits quietly in a corner and listens? Western society has a very clear answer to this.

Extroverts are not only considered more qualified and intellectually developed, because they are sociable, but also more interesting and consistent. Extroverts are often considered physically more attractive and careless. An introverted prototype, on the other hand, is pale, inconspicuous and awkward, has poor skin, and generally seems to be from a different planet.

Based on this way of seeing things, extroversion is beneficial for skyrocketing in the Western world. Therefore, professors at Harvard Business School set themselves the task of turning each of their students into an extrovert. The program involves strict participation in seminars and interaction in study groups. Even daily evening walks with classmates are included in the mandatory program.

A look at Japanese and Korean universities reveals a completely different ideal: there, average students prefer to pore over their books all day, instead of exploring the bars with their friends. At seminars, they carefully listen and carefully outline the material. Speaking without request there is considered arrogant, inappropriate, and a sign of bad manners.

In each culture, the values ​​of temperaments are evaluated differently. While extrovert behavior is generally preferable to introvert behavior in Europe and America, the opposite is true in Asia.

The Ideal of Extraversion Has Evolved in the Last 150 Years

Dale Carnegie grew up in a small town in Missouri in the early twentieth century. He was a typical introvert – skinny, unsportsmanlike and nervous, and, of course, was far from the type of great orator. But when a speaker from the adult education movement came to his hometown, his oratory was fascinated by Carnegie.

Later, in college, he was also impressed by the winners of the rhetoric contest, who were considered leaders of the future. Carnegie was an ambitious man and worked hard to hone his skills. Over time, he turned into a master of oratory and a celebrity campus.

After graduating from college, he became a bacon and soap seller, captivating customers across America with his charming smile and a strong handshake. Subsequently, he founded the Dale Carnegie Institute, whose goal was to help businessmen overcome their insecurities.

Carnegie’s career path reflects the development of the extrovert ideal in America in the 20th century. In the nineteenth century, Americans lived in a country where everyone knew everything, and family members were tightly connected. Those who sought praise worked behaved correctly, stood up for their fellow citizens, and respected people treated each other fairly.

However, the economic recovery at the beginning of the twentieth century destroyed these social structures, as more and more people moved from rural areas to large cities, where the dominant motto was: “If you want to win, you must be able to sell yourself.” The new ideal of a successful American meant the presence of a bold image, open and friendly to others, enchanting with its charm.

This point can also be seen in daily advertising. As one manufacturer of shaving cream for consumers in the 1930s said: “A critical eye evaluates you right now.” Since the beginning of the twentieth century, the desired image of modern man has been full of energy, which confuses us and fascinates us with its irresistible charisma.

Switch: Introverts Can Act Like Extroverts

Again and again, every self-respecting introvert is in situations where extraversion is necessary.

Take a college professor as an example. Imagine that he is shy and restrained, but wants his students to be delighted with his subject. Even if he has an introverted temperament, this will not prevent him from “switching” to extrovert mode. By training his character, he can learn to adapt his behavior to various situations in order to switch to extraversion at the right time.

So what will he do at the lecture?

As a rule, he will become the embodiment of extravert behavior: he will use wide steps at the entrance to the room, speak clearly and clearly during the lecture, use a sloppy, relaxed posture. Thus, he can achieve his goal: his students will be fascinated by the lecture and “fill up” his questions.

In addition, for the professor, such a lecture will also be useful. After its completion, he will have an additional incentive to return to his usual mode of introversion: to hide in a quiet corner of the library in order to enjoy the lack of social interaction.

Of course, some introverts are especially difficult to switch to extroversion, but practice shows that some of them, especially when they want to achieve something important, can overcome their introversion in a short period of time and act like an extrovert.

Companies Should Not Create Jobs Tailored Exclusively for Extroverts

Many employers are strongly convinced that their staff works best when their jobs are ideally suited to the generally accepted ideal of an extrovert employee. In the modern business world, open-plan offices are often used for work, allowing for group brainstorming sessions, seminars and

PowerPoint presentations.

How do introverts cope with work in an open-type office or participate in group discussions? They are constantly distracted: loudly, colleagues are openly hostile, impressions fall upon them in a continuous stream and provoke stress.

Is it really possible for them to work well and reach their potential in such an environment?

The argument that teamwork is the best way to work has certainly influenced many of the successes achieved by large working groups in recent decades. One need only recall Wikipedia or the Linux operating system.

However, people often miss one key difference: large groups of people really stand behind these great accomplishments, but actual teamwork is usually not based on being in an open-type office or conference room.

Rather, developers usually sit at home, alone, in front of their computer screens. In fact, good Internet and significant creative achievements have occurred just in private homes.

Stephen Wozniak created the first Apple personal computer on his own at home, Newton formulated the law of attraction without brainstorming or group discussion, Joan Rowling wrote “Harry Potter” in complete silence.

Modern jobs make extroverts happy. However, executives run the risk of forcing their companies to work at their full potential if they do not consider introverts among their employees. Those who want to provide both groups with a suitable environment should make their workspaces more flexible: employees should be given the opportunity to exchange ideas, but the opportunity to be alone. Retractable walls are an excellent solution, allowing you to organize integration and privacy as needed.

A Truly Skilled Leader Will Be Able to Unite the Talents of Introverts and Extroverts

How can employers make the most of the power of individuality of introverts and extroverts?

In order to understand this, a group of scientists asked several teams to perform a simple task: quickly put down T-shirts under the guidance of an extrovert and introvert. The study showed the following in the extrovert team: although they were successful in implementing the established recommendations in order to achieve a higher level of productivity, they were less successful in solving individual proposals, for example, how to fold t-shirts faster and more efficiently.

In the introvert team, the study showed the exact opposite result. Although their calm, quiet character makes it difficult to encourage the team to increase productivity, they are more open to the ideas of their team and use all available means to put good offers into action.

It can be argued that, in the workplace, such an unusual style is ideal when you need to complete simple tasks as quickly as possible. However, the leadership qualities of an introvert are necessary if team members want to participate in the process and contribute their ideas.

Another difference between extroverts and introverts among leaders became clear during the 2008 financial crisis. Extroverts tend to make quick decisions based on limited information. And many of them really made risky investments at the expense of their companies. Once the bubble burst, they paid dearly for their reckless risks.

In contrast, introverted leaders typically accumulate a ton of information before deciding. The companies with closed leaders, thus, were least affected by the crisis, investing their money in less dangerous enterprises.

What can we take from all this? An extrovert leader is essential for making a quick decision, but when you need to carefully study and analyze information, you should find an introvert.

In general, extrovert leaders must learn to value the qualities of their introverted colleagues. Both types of personalities can benefit from each other’s features.

Both Types of Personalities Can Increase Their Performance Through Collaboration.

The interaction between introverts and extroverts is often a misunderstanding: when conflicts arise, extroverts tend to get angry and go on the offensive, which overpowers the introverts. A typical introvert backs away from open conflict because it finds it unpleasant that the extrovert misinterprets it as disinterest.

Only when both temperaments are open and try to understand each other’s points of view, can they achieve great results together.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States during World War II, was a typical extrovert. His wife, Eleanor, on the other hand, was very reserved: he was impudent, cheerful and cheerful, loved to go to parties, flirt, and go to bed every night later than the previous one.

She was awkward and shy, preferred serious conversations and left the event earlier and earlier. Despite these huge differences, they achieved incredible things together.

Eleanor opened her husband’s eyes to the worrying fate of oppressed minorities and children living in poverty. When she found out that the black singer Marian Anderson was banned from working in the Constitution Hall in 1939, Eleanor combined her husband’s political influence with her public mind to make sure Anderson spoke to the Lincoln Memorial on Easter Sunday.

Both temperaments can complement each other on a smaller scale. Each time the extroverts prefer deep conversations to small talk, the introverts can be “charged” with the liveliness of the extroverts, greeting them like a breath of fresh air in their balanced everyday life.

It is good to combine representatives of both temperaments among employees since each has individual qualities and is able to learn a lot from the other.

The Final Words

Introverts and extroverts have qualities that can be extremely valuable to people in their environment. Both individuals must consider the place in which they must realize their potential.

What is the difference between introverts and extroverts?

  • Extroverts love noise and need incentives, and introverts love to be alone and think.
  • Many introverts are very sensitive – that is, they react sharply to the environment.
  • The difference in the head: the brain of the introvert shows a brighter reaction to an external stimulus.
  • Introverted children are like orchids: they bloom only in the right environment.

Why are extroverts often easier?

  • In the Western world, the idea of successful extroverts prevails.
  • The ideal image of an extrovert has evolved over the past 150 years.
  • Using an internal “switch,” introverts can act like extroverts.

How can individual introvert and extrovert skills be used to achieve excellence?

  • Companies should not create jobs adapted only for extroverts.
  • A truly skilled leader can rally the talents of introverts and extroverts.
  • Both temperaments can increase their performance through collaboration.

Why You Should Read “Quiet”

  • To better understand the identity of the introvert;
  • To find out how introverts and extroverts can unite with each other to achieve success;
  • To apply popular science ideas for communicating with other people.

This book is available as:

Audiobook | eBook Print