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Quiet by Susan Cain, Review by the Divorced Breadwinner Mom

Title: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

Author: Susan Cain

Synopsis: In the author interview included on amazon.com for the book Quiet, Susan Cain says she wrote this book because she believes introverts are second class citizens in today’s world and that the bias against introverts leads to significant wastes of time, energy and talent, not to mention happiness. An introvert herself, Ms. Cain opens the book with a story about an experience that demonstrated to her the power of introversion despite her feelings of inadequacy. The book is divided into four parts:

  1. The Extrovert Ideal – This section traces the rise of extroversion as an ideal (it wasn’t always, even in Western society) and debunks some common myths about charismatic leadership and the benefits of collaboration.
  2. Your Biology, Yourself? – This section examines the role of biology in determining temperament and looks at ways introverts can leverage some of their natural talents to succeed in areas normally associated with extroversion, such as public speaking.
  3. Do All Cultures Have an Extrovert Ideal? – As the title indicates, this section looks other cultures to see if extroversion is always considered the ideal, with special emphasis on Asian cultures.
  4. How to Love, How to Work – This section looks at how to use introversion in the world, including both the world of work and the world of parenting.

Who Would Benefit? If you often feel out of place because you need quiet or solitude or don’t enjoy big crowds, large gatherings, and 24×7 news and information, you might be an introvert. If so, this book is for you. Finding out you’re not alone is helpful, as are some of the studies highlighting benefits of introversion. In addition, this book can help you identify methods of honoring your needs while surviving at work, home, school, and in the world at large. As a divorced mom, you may or may not be an introvert, but you may have children or coworkers who are, or you may manage a team with both introverts and extroverts. The information and suggestions in this book can help in those cases, too.

Why I Picked it Up: I’d heard a lot about this book when it first came out a couple years ago, and I was curious but didn’t make the effort to get the book and read it. But recently it came across my path at a time when I felt like just about everyone was telling all online, in books, or on TV, and I was motivated to get a copy and begin reading. Shortly thereafter, a client asked me to do some research based on some of the studies cited in the book, so I had a double incentive to read it.

What I Liked: I liked the way the book weaves examples from the author’s personal experience with studies and research and interviews with other introverts and experts in a number of fields. I appreciated some of the information that helped me put my own experiences in context and find out I’m not unique. I also liked the various angles through which the subject is viewed in the book and the variety of information incorporated and organized into the whole of Quiet.

What I Didn’t Like: As a lay reader it’s hard for me to tell if facts are fairly presented, or if the author selected studies to support her points. Also, I think there is more to viewing personality traits and their impacts on us than introversion – extroversion, so the context may oversimplify things a bit, although Ms. Cain does introduce some additional scales and ways of viewing some of the factors grouped in the category of introversion.

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