May 6, 2014

Quiet - Susan Cain - Book Review

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

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was randomly browsing through YouTube and came across the TED Talk of Susan Cain on Introverts. I became so impressed and got this book 'Quiet'. And this is one of the most amazing books I have ever read.

Susan Cain, an introvert herself has done a splendid job of researching through numerous articles, research papers, places, cultures, people and has presented a wonderful book that is in support of Introverts, who are viewed down upon in this world. As the title of the book says it portrays 'The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking'

The author has divided the book into four parts. The first part talks about how Extroverts became the model people due to Urbanization and how various advertisements and people like Dale Carnegie at the start of 20th century were examples of that. She presents examples of lot of CEOs who were introverts and how leaders are not necessarily extroverted as they donot need to talk to masses. With the help of Steve Wozniak she describes how Group Think kills creativity.

The next part deals with the Biological part of Introversion and Extroversion and how these two people behave. Highly reactive infants tend to become Introverts (they are more cautious, alert and avoid strangers). Lowly reactive infants tend to become Entroverts (they are carefree, social and enjoy new company). The author gives the example of how Eleanor Roosevelt was behind the good deeds on Franklin Roosevelt and why Introversion helps. In Financial World, Introverts tend to do well than Extroverts (eg: Warren Buffett)since they think more before taking decisions. Introverts tend to be Threat Oriented and Extroverts tend to be Reward Oriented, which is why many M&A deals fail.

In the third part, the author talks about Soft Power and the impact of cultures of the Ideal. Western world has always given importance to being vocal, whereas the eastern world has given importance to being silent. Talking is important in western classes, whereas listening takes a step above in the eastern world.

The fourth part is how to be in the practical world and I would say this is the most spectacular part of the book. The author talks about 'Free Trait Theory' and 'Free Trait Agreement' where an introvert behaves like an extrovert for the love of his/her job. This consumes lot of energy for them, but they accept it for their profession. The same applies to extroverts when they have to turn introverts. She also points out the differences that could arise between an Introvert-Extrovert Couple and how it can be solved. Finally, she gives a few guidelines to parents of Quiet Kids and how to rise them in the vocal world.

Right from the start of the book, Susan Cain gives lot of examples and case studies to make things clear. Providing examples of Introvert-Extrovert Pairs like Rosa Parks - Martin Luther King, Steve Wozniak - Steve Jobs, Eleanor - Franklin Roosevelt and how they made use of each other, she provides clear examples of how none is below the other. Also examples like Albert Einstein, Mahatma Gandhi, Steven Spielberg, JK Rowling, Susan Cain clearly depicts that the world needs introverts. Insights of class participation in Harvard Business School and how some CEOs or Founders are completely opposite of being vocal, Susan Cain questions the authority of the Ideal Leader depicted by the school.

This is a book that questions the Extrovert Ideal that is blooming in the world and makes Introverts feel inferior. This book does not undermine the extroverts, but says that the world needs Introverts as much as they need Extroverts.

I would say this is a must read book to people who want to understand Introverts, who are interested in Psychology or who feel Introverts can't survive in this world.

Happy Reading!