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

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Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking Cover

ISBN13: 9780307352149
ISBN10: 0307352145
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Today we make room for a remarkably narrow range of personality styles. We’re told that to be great is to be bold, to be happy is to be sociable. We see ourselves as a nation of extroverts—which means that we’ve lost sight of who we really are. Depending on which study you consult, one third to one half of Americans are introverts—in other words, one out of every two or three people you know. (Given that the United States is among the most extroverted of nations, the number must be at least as high in other parts of the world.) If you’re not an introvert yourself, you are surely raising, managing, married to, or coupled with one.

If these statistics surprise you, that’s probably because so many people pretend to be extroverts. Closet introverts pass undetected on playgrounds, in high school locker rooms, and in the corridors of corporate America. Some fool even themselves, until some life event—a layoff, an empty nest, an inheritance that frees them to spend time as they like— jolts them into taking stock of their true natures. You have only to raise the subject of this book with your friends and acquaintances to find that the most unlikely people consider themselves introverts.

It makes sense that so many introverts hide even from themselves. We live with a value system that I call the Extrovert Ideal—the omnipresent belief that the ideal self is gregarious, alpha, and comfortable in the spotlight. The archetypal extrovert prefers action to contemplation, risk- taking to heed-taking, certainty to doubt. He favors quick decisions, even at the risk of being wrong. She works well in teams and socializes in groups. We like to think that we value individuality, but all too often we admire one type of individual—the kind who’s comfortable “putting himself out there.” Sure, we allow technologically gifted loners who launch companies in garages to have any personality they please, but they are the exceptions, not the rule, and our tolerance extends mainly to those who get fabulously wealthy or hold the promise of doing so.

Introversion—along with its cousins sensitivity, seriousness, and shyness—is now a second- class personality trait, somewhere between a disappointment and a pathology. Introverts living under the Extrovert Ideal are like women in a man’s world, discounted because of a trait that goes to the core of who they are. Extroversion is an enormously appealing personality style, but we’ve turned it into an oppressive standard to which most of us feel we must conform.

The Extrovert Ideal has been documented in many studies, though this research has never been grouped under a single name. Talkative people, for example, are rated as smarter, better- looking, more interesting, and more desirable as friends. Velocity of speech counts as well as volume: we rank fast talkers as more competent and likable than slow ones. The same dynamics apply in groups, where research shows that the voluble are considered smarter than the reticent—even though there’s zero correlation between the gift of gab and good ideas. Even the word introvert is stigmatized—one informal study, by psychologist Laurie Helgoe, found that introverts described their own physical appearance in vivid language ( “green- blue eyes,” “exotic,” “high cheekbones”), but when asked to describe generic introverts they drew a bland and distasteful picture (“ungainly,” “neutral colors,” “skin problems”).

But we make a grave mistake to embrace the Extrovert Ideal so unthinkingly. Some of our greatest ideas, art, and inventions—from the theory of evolution to van Gogh’s sunflowers to the personal computer— came from quiet and cerebral people who knew how to tune in to their inner worlds and the treasures to be found there.

Copyright © 2012 by Susan Cain. From the book QUIET: The Power Of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain, published by Crown, a division of Random House, Inc.  Reprinted with permission.

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Average customer rating based on 19 comments:

dmard, February 18, 2014 (view all comments by dmard)
Fabulous book that validates the issues that introverts deal with throughout life. Will help you to understand AND appreciate yourself, your spouse, your child or other introverts in your life.
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(3 of 6 readers found this comment helpful)
Ann Cole, January 30, 2013 (view all comments by Ann Cole)
Having gone through life as a quiet person, I found it exhilarating to read a book that offered reassurance that I am "normal" and that there are many others like me. This book is well researched and well written. I recommend it especially to parents of quiet children.
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(4 of 8 readers found this comment helpful)
cascadeofwater, January 24, 2013 (view all comments by cascadeofwater)
[Quote from p. 51] "If we assume that quiet and loud people have roughly the same number of good (and bad) ideas, then we should worry if the louder and more forceful people always carry the day. This would mean that an awful lot of bad ideas prevail while good ones get squashed. Yet studies in group dynamics suggest that this is exactly what happens. We perceive talkers as smarter than quiet types--even though grade-point averages and SAT and intelligence test scores reveal this perception to be inaccurate. In one experiment in which two strangers met over the phone, those who spoke more were considered more intelligent, better looking, and more likable. We also see talkers as leaders. The more a person talks, the more other group members direct their attention to him, which means that he becomes increasingly powerful as a meeting goes on. It also helps to speak fast; we rate quick talkers as more capable and appealing than slow talkers."

In 'Quiet', Susan Cain offers more than mere validation for introverts. She reveals the imbalance of our society, which overprizes extroversion, group work, and dominant communication styles. It is a thoughtful, insightful contribution which resonated deeply for me. I have the sense that this book will still be a bestseller in ten years because of its breakthrough relevance. Perhaps the tide will start to turn toward more sensitivity to those who need a quieter environment, and to a better balance between contrasting styles.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780307352149
Subtitle:
The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
Author:
Cain, Susan
Publisher:
Crown
Subject:
Personality
Subject:
Sociology - General
Subject:
General Psychology & Psychiatry
Subject:
Personalityy
Subject:
Psychology: Personality Disorders
Subject:
Psychology : General
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20120124
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
352
Dimensions:
9.5 x 6.5 x 1.2 in 1.375 lb

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Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$15.95 In Stock
Product details 352 pages Crown - English 9780307352149 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

One-third of the world's population are introverts, and we are quietly going to take over the world while you extroverts are busy yapping it up and not paying attention. Don't say you haven't been warned.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "While American culture and business tend to be dominated by extroverts, business consultant Cain explores and champions the one-third to one-half of the population who are introverts. She defines the term broadly, including 'solitude-seeking' and 'contemplative,' but also 'sensitive,' 'humble,' and 'risk-averse.' Such individuals, she claims (though with insufficient evidence), are 'disproportionately represented among the ranks of the spectacularly creative.' Yet the American school and workplace make it difficult for those who draw strength from solitary musing by over-emphasizing teamwork and what she calls 'the new Groupthink.' Cain gives excellent portraits of a number of introverts and shatters misconceptions. For example, she notes, introverts can negotiate as well as, or better than, alpha males and females because they can take a firm stand 'without inflaming counterpart's ego.' Cain provides tips to parents and teachers of children who are introverted or seem socially awkward and isolated. She suggests, for instance, exposing them gradually to new experiences that are otherwise overstimulating. Cain consistently holds the reader's interest by presenting individual profiles, looking at places dominated by extroverts (Harvard Business School) and introverts (a West Coast retreat center), and reporting on the latest studies. Her diligence, research, and passion for this important topic has richly paid off." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Review" by , “A superbly researched, deeply insightful, and fascinating book that will change forever the way society views introverts.”
"Review" by , "An intriguing and potentially life-altering examination of the human psyche that is sure to benefit both introverts and extroverts alike."
"Review" by , “Susan Cain is the definer of a new and valuable paradigm. In this moving and original argument, she makes the case that we are losing immense reserves of talent and vision because of our culture's overvaluation of extroversion. A startling, important and readable page-turner that will make quiet people see themselves in a whole new light.”
"Review" by , Quiet legitimizes and even celebrates the 'niche' that represents half the people in the world. Mark my words, this book will be a bestseller.”
"Review" by , “Susan Cain has done a superb job of sifting through decades of complex research....This book will be a boon for the many highly sensitive people who are also introverts.”
"Review" by , "Cain offers a wealth of useful advice for teachers and parents of introverts…Quiet should interest anyone who cares about how people think, work, and get along, or wonders why the guy in the next cubicle acts that way. It should be required reading for introverts (or their parents) who could use a boost to their self-esteem."
"Review" by , "Rich, intelligent...enlightening."
"Review" by , "This book is a pleasure to read and will make introverts and extroverts alike think twice about the best ways to be themselves and interact with differing personality types."
"Review" by , "An intelligent and often surprising look at what makes us who we are."
"Synopsis" by , At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying; who invent and create but prefer not to pitch their own ideas; who favor working on their own over brainstorming in teams. Although they are often labeled “quiet,” it is to introverts we owe many of the great contributions to society — from Van Gogh’s sunflowers to the invention of the personal computer.

Passionately argued, impressively researched, and filled with the indelible stories of real people, Quiet shows how dramatically we undervalue introverts, and how much we lose in doing so. Susan Cain charts the rise of “the extrovert ideal” over the twentieth century and explores its far-reaching effects — how it helps to determine everything from how parishioners worship to who excels at Harvard Business School. And she draws on cutting-edge research on the biology and psychology of temperament to reveal how introverts can modulate their personalities according to circumstance, how to empower an introverted child, and how companies can harness the natural talents of introverts. This extraordinary book has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how they see themselves.

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