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Quiet - Book summary

Many people believe that to be an achiever or a great leader, you must be bold, action-oriented, outgoing, and aggressive, i.e. you must be an extrovert. In this book, Susan Cain explains why this perspective is flawed, why introverts may be severely undervalued, and how we can bring out the best in ourselves and others by changing the way we see introversion. In this free Quiet summary, you’ll learn the differences between introversion and extroversion, why both personality types have their strengths and weaknesses, and the broad implications for work and life.

Quiet: Introversion vs Extroversion

There is no universally accepted definition of an introvert or an extrovert. However, psychologists generally agree that they differ in several ways.

Response to Stimulation. The amygdala in our brain scans our environment and tells the body how to respond. Introverts have a more excitable amygdala and the signs are visible from young.

Thinking and Work Style. Introverts and extroverts also work and think differently. Extroverts are more action-oriented and rewards-sensitive, while introverts tend to work more slowly and deliberately, and are relatively less attracted to wealth and fame. These affect how they’re motivated and solve problems. Generally, extroverts are stronger for info-overload, pressure and multi-tasking, while introverts are better at solving complex problems through clarity, patience and persistence.

Social Styles. Introverts and extroverts have different social skills and needs. Extroverts dislike solitude, are comfortable mingling with large groups of people, and prefer a head-on approach to conflict and competition.  Introverts prefer deep, meaningful 1-1 interactions and tend to avoid conflict.

Our full 14-page summary covers each of these differences in greater details.

No one is a pure introvert or extrovert. Our inborn temperaments can be changed to some extent, and we also behave differently depending on the circumstances. It’s possible to learn to control your impulses and stretch your personality, but you can’t turn off your natural impulses totally, hence acting out of character for prolonged periods of time can be stressful.  In our complete Quiet summary, you can learn more about how to start stretch yourself naturally to maximize your potential.

Debunking the Extrovert Ideal

Today, management and cultural norms in America favor extroversion over introversion, but this was not always so.

Cain traces the shift from the Culture of Character before the 18th Century to the Culture of Personality. She also visited, researched and observed many prominent individuals and institutions, to understand how the Extrovert Ideal is manifested in modern society, including her observations of Tony Robbins’s extroverted power and salesmanship, Harvard Business School and its focus on extroversion and charismatic leadership, and how an introverted pastor struggled in an evangelical church.

While extroversion has its strengths, it’s simply untrue that it is a prerequisite for success. Many famous people—from inventors to leaders and artists—are introverts. In fact, people like van Gogh, Bill Gates, Eleanor Roosevelt, Al Gore, Warren Buffett, and Mahatma Gandhi, probably achieved what they did because of their introversion.

In fact,  introversion can be just as vital as extroversion.  In our complete Quiet summary, we’ve organized these ideas into 3 key themes—Leadership, Mastery, Creativity and Productivity—to explain why introverted leaders may be better at nurturing proactivity, improving innovation and problem-solving, and personal development and mastery. In a nutshell:

Quiet Summary_debunk extrovert ideal

It’s estimated that about one in every 2 or 3 Americans are introverts. Rather than condition everyone to act like extroverts, it makes more sense to understand and leverage the unique strengths of both introverts and extroverts.

Living, Loving and Working Optimally

Introverts and extroverts have different strengths and weaknesses. Neither is perfect, and we need both for society to function well.  Here’s an overview of how to make the most of introversion and extroversion:

Quiet Summary_potential-success
• Maximizing Personal Potential. To be at your peak performance, seek to operate from your sweet spot, and occasionally stretch yourself when the situation requires it. Check out the Quiet summary bundle for details on how to find your “sweet spot”, push yourself out of your comfort zone without overstretching, manage your thinking, close communication gaps and create the right social setting where everyone can enjoy themselves.

Teamwork and Collaboration. Enhance results by using a blend of group and solitary activities, including a range of work options, assigning tasks based on people’s natural strengths.

Nurturing Introverted Children. Don’t force introverted kids to become more assertive or energetic. Instead, try to understand how they see the world. In our  complete Quiet summary, you can also find tips to help introverted kids to build confidence and ease into novelty, and how to create a more conducive learning and educational environment.

Getting the Most from Quiet

Whether you’re an introvert or someone who wishes to improve your relationships and management skills, there are definitely loads of insights to be found in this book. Check out our complete book summary bundle which includes an infographic, 14-page text summary, and a 27-minute audio summary.

Quiet summary - book summary bundle

This book is packed with anecdotes, examples, and resources including:
• Details of Cain’s research and personal meetings with experts, researchers, leaders, professionals and people at her talks;
• Relevant research and studies on introversion/extroversion;
• A comparison of Americans’ obsession with extroversion, compared with the quiet persistence valued by Asians;
• Examples, stories and case studies involving relationships, business, finance, education etc., and famous people such as Dale Carnegie, Rosa Parks, Mahatma Ghandi, Moses, Steve Wozniak, Warren Buffett, Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt; and
• Simple self-assessment tools.

You can purchase the book here or visit for more details.

Want to learn more about personality types and harnessing your unique strengths? Do check out our Surrounded by Idiots summary and Strengths Based Leadership summary.

About the Author of Quiet

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can´t Stop Talking is authored by Susan Horowitz Cainan American writer and lecturer. She worked as an attorney, then a negotiations consultant as owner and principal of The Negotiation Company, before leaving her careers for a quieter life of writing. She has also been a fellow and a faculty/staff member of the Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership, an educational nonprofit organization. Cain graduated from Princeton University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and earned her Juris Doctor degree from Harvard Law School in 1993. In 2015, Cain co-founded Quiet Revolution, a mission-based company with initiatives in the areas of children (parenting and education), lifestyle, and the workplace.

Quiet Quotes

“If genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration, then as a culture we tend to lionize the one percent….But great power lies in the other ninety-nine percent.”

“If you’re an introvert…you have the power of persistence, the tenacity to solve complex problems, and the clear-sightedness to avoid pitfalls that trip others up.”

“We can stretch our personalities, but only up to a point. Our inborn temperaments influence us, regardless of the lives we lead.”

“Even though we can reach for the outer limits of our temperaments, it can often be better to situate ourselves squarely inside our comfort zones.”

“If personal space is vital to creativity, so is freedom from ‘peer pressure’.”

“The trick for introverts is to honor their own styles instead of allowing themselves to be swept up by prevailing norms.”

“Instead of distinguishing between online and personal interaction, we used the lessons of one to inform our thinking about the other.”

“Introverts prefer to work independently, and solitude can be a catalyst to innovation.”

Click here to download Quiet book summary and infographic

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