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


Title: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
Authors: Susan Cain
Edition: 1
Finished Date: 2014-02-13
Rating: 4
Language: English
Genres: Neuroscience, myelin
Level: Entry
Publishers: Crown
Publication Date: 2012-01-24
ISBN: 978-0307352149
Format: ePub, Pdf, ePub
Pages: 352
Download: ePub Pdf Mobi



  • inner world of thought and feeling
  • focus on the meaning they make of the vents swirling around them
  • recharge their batteries by being alone


  • external life of people and activities
  • plunge into the events themselves
  • recharge when they don’t socialize enough

Myers-Briggs personality test

  • based on Carl Jung
  • used by majority of universities
  • Fortune 100 companies

a lot of disagree on the definition

today’s psychologists tend to agree on several important points

  • differ in the level of outside stimulation that they need to function well
    • introverts
      • “just right” with less stimulation
        • sip wine with a close friend
        • solve a crossword puzzle
        • read a book
    • extroverts
      • enjoy the extra bang that comes from activities
        • meet new people
        • skiing slippery sloes
        • crank up the stereo
  • work differently
    • introverts
      • work more slowly and deliberately
      • focus on one task at a time
      • relatively immune to the lures of wealth and fame
    • extroverts
      • tackle assignments quickly
      • make fast/rash decisions
      • comfortable multitasking and risk-taking
      • “the thrill of the chase” for rewards like money and status
  • social life

    • introverts

      • may enjoy have strong social skills and enjoy parties and business meetings,
        but after a while wish they were home in their pajamas

      • prefer to devote their social energies to close friends, colleagues, and family

      • listen more than they talk
      • think before they speak
      • often feel as if the express themselves better in writing than in conversation
      • tend to dislike conflict
      • many have a horror of small talk, but enjoy deep discussions
    • extroverts
      • add life to your dinner party and laugh generously at your jokes
      • tend to assertive, dominant, and in great need of company
      • think out loud and on their feet
      • prefer talking to listening
      • rarely find themselves at a loss for words
      • occasionally blunt out things they never meant to say
      • comfortable with conflict, but not with solitude

introverts are not

  • hermit or misanthrope
    • most are friendly
  • shyness
    • the fear of social disapproval or humiliation
      • inherently painful
    • introversion is a preference for environments that are not overstimulating
      • not painful
    • sometimes introversion and shyness overlap
      • calm extroverts
      • anxious extroverts
        • Barbra Streisand
      • clam introverts
        • Bill Gates
      • anxious introverts
        • many shy people turn inward, partly as a refuge from the socializing that causes them such anxiety
    • a business meeting
      • a shy extrovert
        • afraid to speak up

“There is no such thing as a pure extrovert or a pure introvert. Such a man would be in the lunatic asylum.”

many different kinds of introverts and extroverts

  • interact with other personality traits
  • personal histories

many introverts are also “highly sensitive”

  • more apt than the average person to feel
    • pleasantly overwhelmed by Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata”
    • a well-turned phrase
    • an act of extraordinary kindness
  • quicker than others to feel sickened by
    • violence
    • ugliness
  • a ver strong conscience


1/3 to 1/2 Americans are introverts

many people pretend to be extroverts

Extrovert Ideal

  • the omni-present belief that the ideal self is gregarious, alpha, and comfortable in the spotlight
  • like women in a man’s world
  • example
    • talkative
      • rated as
        • smarter
        • better-looking
        • more interesting
        • more desirable as friends
        • we rank fast talkers as more competent and liable than slow ones
    • voluble are considered smarter than the reticent
      • there’s 0 correlation between the gift of gab and good ideas

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”

technologically gifted loners

  • they are exceptions, not the rule,
    and our tolerance extends mainly to those
    who get fabulously wealthy or hold the promise of doing so


  • green-blue eyes
  • exotic
  • high cheekbones

bias against quiet can cause deep psychic pain

  • child
    • overhear your parents apologize for your shyness

surges of bias

  • children
    • group projects
    • TV shows’ heroin
    • preschool set
  • adults

    • organization insist we work in teams, in offices without walls,
      for supervisors who value “people skills” above all

    • to advance careers, we’re expected to promote ourselves unabashedly

    • Scientists whose research gets funded often have confident, perhaps overconfident, personalities.

“We are 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.”


the combination of mental, physical, and emotional traits of a person; natural predisposition

Quiet Strength

  • Rosa Parker
    • refused to give seat to white

our lives are shaped by

  • personality
    • category
      • introvert
        • decision
          • function well without sleep
          • learn from our mistakes
          • delay gratification
          • ask “what if”
        • cousin
          • sensitivity
          • seriousness
          • shyness
          • lazy
          • stupid
          • slow
          • boring
          • “in your head too much”
            • a phrase that’s often deployed against the quiet and cerebral
          • thinkers
      • extrovert
        • exercise
        • commit adultery
        • place big bets
      • cousin
        * outgoing  
      • be a good leader
        • in some cases introverts
        • in other cases extroverts
        • depending on the type of leadership called for
    • decide
      • choice of friends and mates
      • how we make conversation
      • resolve differences
      • show love
      • career we choose
      • whether or not we succeed at the careers
  • gender
  • race

Part I: Extrovert Ideal

the myth of charismatic leadership

the culture of personality, 100 later


  • superior mind
    • the antidote to Alfred Adler’s inferiority complex
    • some people use the word “power” rather than superior
  • current idea of the society
    • extroversion makes people more successful and better people

equate leadership with hyper-extroversion?

  • Harvard Business School
    • “Spiritual Capital of Extroversion”
    • The CEO may not know the best way forward, but she has to act anyway
    • try turn quiet students into talkers
    • predictors of success
      • verbal fluency
      • sociability
  • less vocal people’s ideas are discarded and lead to trouble

    • The risk with our students is that they’re very good at getting their way.

      But that doesn’t mean they’re going the right way

    • 可以利用的弱点

      • 优势就是劣势

perceive他旅客人数爱上smarter than quiet types

  • event hough grade-point averages and SAT and intelligence test scores reveal this perception to be inaccurate

more talking were correlated with greater insight

  • research suggests that there’s no such link

our tendency to follow those who initiate action - any action

venture capitalist

  • difference between good presentation skills and true leadership ability
    • people who are put in positions of authority because they are good talkers, but they don’t have good ideas
  • put too much of a premium on presenting and not enough on substance and critical thinking

the ranks of effective CEOs turn out to be filled with introverts

  • contrary to the Harvard Business School model of vocal leadership
    • bigger salary
    • not better corporate performance
  • example
    • Charles Schwab
    • Bill Gates
    • Brenda Barnes
    • James Copland
  • had little or no “charisma” and little use either for the term or what it signifies

11 standout companies to research in depth

  • words to describe CEO by those who worked with leaders
    • quiet
    • humble
    • modest
    • reserved
    • shy
    • gracious
    • mild-mannered
    • self-effacing
    • understated

what do introverted leaders do differently from–

and sometimes better than – extroverts?

  • introvert

    • one of one finest leaders in the army
      • lost focus when he interacted too much with people
        • carved out time for thinking and recharging
      • spoke quietly
        • without much variation in his vocal inflections or facial expressions
      • more interest in listening and gathering information than in asserting his opinion or dominating a conversation
      • widely admired; when he spoke, everyone listened.
      • by supporting his employees’ efforts to take the initiative
      • wasn’t concerned with getting credit or even with being in charge
      • assigned work to those who could perform it best
      • delegate some of his most interesting, meaningful, and important tasks
        – work that other leaders would have kept for themselves
  • research

    • some studies were often based on people’s perceptions
      of who made a good leader, as opposed to actual results

      • personal opinions are often a simple reflection of cultural bias
    • didn’t differentiate among the various kinds of situations a leader might face
      • certain organizations were better suited to introverted leadership styles
    • the extroverted leaders enhance group performance when employees are passive,
      but that introverted leaders are more effective with proactive employees

      • introverts inclination to listen to others and lack of interest in dominating social situations, introverts are more likely to hear and implement suggestions.
        Having benefited from the talents of their followers, they are then likely to motivate them to be even more proactive.
        Create a virtuous circle of proactivity.
  • today’s introverted leader speak using Internet

When collaboration kills creativity

the rise of the new groupthink and the power of working alone

most introverts are engineers

  • shy
  • live in their heads
  • almost like artists
  • the very best of them are artists
    • artists work best alone where they can control an intervention’s design without a lot of other people designing it for marketing or some other committee
  • Steve Wozniak
    • did not believe anything really revolutionary has been invented by committee
    • Work alone
      • You’re going to be best able to design revolutionary products and features
        If you’re working on your own. Not on a committee. Not on a team.

study by UC Berkeley

  • nature of creativity?

    • target population
      • architects
      • mathematicians
      • scientists
      • engineers
      • writers
    • findings
      • the more creative people tended to be socially poised introverts
      • described themselves as independent and individualistic
      • as teens, many had been shy and solitary
      • don’t mean that introverts are always more creative than extroverts
      • but suggest that in a group of people who have been extremely creative throughout their lifetimes, you’re likely to find a lot of introverts
    • explanation

      • introverts prefer to work independently, and solitude can be a catalyst to innovation
      • introverts “ concentrates the mind on the tasks in hand,
        and prevents the dissipation of energy on social and sexual matters unrelated to work”

        • example
          • Newton

the New Groupthink

  • elevate teamwork above all else
    • insist that creativity and intellectual achievement come from a gregarious place
  • appearance
    • cooperative learning
    • corporate teamwork
    • open office plans emerged at different times and for different reasons
  • not arise at one precise moment
  • the mighty force that pulled these trends together was the rise of WWW
    • linux
    • open-source operating system
    • Wikipedia
    • the online encyclopedia
    • MoveOn.org
    • grassroots political movement
  • fail to realize that what makes sense for the asynchronous, relative anonymous interactions of the Internet might not work as well inside the face-to-face
  • ironic
    • the early web was medium that enabled bands of often introverted individualists
      • the earliest computer enthusiasts were introverts
        • didn’t share office space
        • often didn’t even live in the same country
      • open source attracts introverts

“While extroverts tend to attain leadership in public domains,

introverts tend to attain leadership in theoretical and aesthetic fields

  • Charles Darwin
  • Marie Curie
  • Patrick White
  • Arthur Boyd
  • created either new fields of thought or rearranged existing knowledge

excessive stimulation seems to impede learning

  • scientists now know that the brain is incapable of paying attention to 2 things at the same time
  • What looks like multitasking is really switching back and forth between multiple tasks, which reduces productivity and increases mistakes by up to 50%
    • many introverts seem to know these things instinctively
    • resist being herded together
    • prefer passive collaboration like e-mail, instant messaging, and online chat tools
  • You once said that you would like to sit beside me while I write…
    When involved with others, I would feel he was losing himself

more research

  • chess
  • tennis
  • classical piano
  • the best violinists rated “practice alone” as the most important of all their music-related activities
  • Elite musicians - even those who perform in groups-describe practice sessions with their chamber group as “leisure” compared with solo practice, where the real work gets done.

  • college students who tend to study alone learn more over time than those who work in groups

  • “serious study alone”

    • tournament-rated chess players
    • only when you’re alone that you can engage in Deliberate Practice
      • key to exceptional achievement
        • identify the tasks or knowledge that are just out of your reach
        • strive to upgrade your performance
        • monitor your progress
        • revise accordingly
      • practice sessions are less useful and counterproductive
        • they reinforce existing cognitive mechanisms instead of improving them
    • Deliberate Practice is best conducted alone

      • reasons

        • take intense concentration
          • other people can be distracting
        • require deep motivation
          • often self-generated
        • involve working on the task that’s most challenging to you personally

          • That’s reason I like to work alone. Because I will not be improved working with others.

            My weakness will not be touched and others good at it will work on this part.

          • if you want to improve what you’re doing,
            ; have to be the one who generates the move.
            Imagine a group class –
            you’re the one generating the move
            only a small percentage of the time

      • Steven Wozniak

        • the Homebrew meeting was the catalyst that inspired him to build that first PC
        • central idea he thought to help me through his entire career

          • patience
            • from 3rd grade to 8th grade, I just learned things gradually, figuring out how to …
            • I learned to not worry so much about the outcome
            • but to concentrate on the step I was on and try to do it as perfectly as
              I could when I was doing it
        • often work alone

      • it takes approximately 10,000 hours of Deliberate Practice to gain true expertise
        • so it helps to start young
    • Study by Mihaly Csiksgentmihalyi between 1990 and 1995

      • 91 exceptionally creative people in the arts, sciences, business, and government
      • man of them were on the social margins during adolescence, partly because
        “Intense curiosity or focused interest seems odd to their peers.”

      • teens who are too gregarious to spend time alone often fail to cultivate their talents
        “because practicing music or studying math requires a solitude they dread”

    • study by DeMarco and Timothy Lister

      • goal
        • identify the characteristics of the best and worst computer programmers
        • the factors that you’d think would matter — such as years of experience salary, even the time spent completing the work — had little correlation to outcome
        • the programers above the median earned less than 10% more than below median
        • the programmers who turned in “zero-defect” work took slightly less, not more, time to complete the exercise than those who made mistakes
        • programmers from the same companies performed at more or less the same level, even though they hadn’t worked together
        • top performers overwhelmingly worked for companies that gave their workers the most privacy, personal space, control over their physical environments and freedom from interruption

peer pressure

  • brainstorming

    • developed by Alex Osborn

      • Passionately believed that groups — once freed from the shackles of social judgment-produced more and better ideas than did individuals working in solitude, and he made grand claims for his favored method.
    • a process in which group members generate ideas in a nonjudgmental atmosphere

    • 4 rules
      • Don’t judge or criticize ideas
      • be freewheeling
        • the wilder the idea, the better
      • go for quantity
        • the more ideas you have, the better
      • build on the ideas of fellow group members
    • group brainstorming doesn’t actually work

      • produce ideas of equal or higher quality when working individually
      • studies have shown that performance gets worse as group size increases
      • exception
        • online brainstorming
          • properly managed
            • the larger the group, the better it performs
          • academic research
            • professors who work together electronically
        • not surprise
          • the curious power of electronic collaboration that contributed to the New Groupthink in the first place
      • fail to realize that participating in an online working group is a form a solitude all its own

        • instead we assume that the success of online collaborations
          will be replicated in the face-to-face world
      • group brainstorming makes people feel attached

      • 3 explanation

        • social loafing
          • some individuals tend to sit back and let others do the work
        • production blocking

          • only one person can talk or produce an idea at once,
            while the other group members are forced to sit passively
        • evaluation apprehension

          • the fear of looking stupid in front of one’s peers
      • an audience may be rousing, but it’s also stressful
      • recent research in neuroscience suggest that the fear of judgment runs
        much deeper and has more far-reaching implications than we ever imagined

        • a staggering 75% of the participants went along with the group’s
          wrong answer to at least one question
  • change your view of a problem

    • mind-altering substances

“pain of independence”

face-to-face interactions create trust in a way that online interactions can’t

  • some people work in cafe
    • different from modern schools and workplaces
    • social, yet its casual
      • com-and-go-as-you-please nature

the most effective teams are composed of a healthy mix of introverts and extroverts

difference in countries


  • emphasis on listening
  • emphasis on asking questions
  • emphasis on putting others’ needs first
  • concern with taking up too much of the other person’s time with inconsequential information


  • emphasis on holding force
  • how effective you are at turning your experiences into stories


no speak loud enough

How extroversion become the cultural ideal

change around the turn of the twentieth century

  • a Culture of Character to a Culture of Personality
    • a Culture of Character
      • the ideal self
        • serious
        • disciplined
        • honorable
      • what counted was not so much the impression one made in public as how one behaved in private
      • women
        • judge by
          • talent for witty repartee
        • was advised to
          • display blushes and downcast eyes
          • too loud or made inappropriate eye contact with strangers were considered brazen
    • word personality
      • not exist in English until the 18th century
      • idea of “having a good personality” was not widespread until the twentieth
    • a Culture of Personality
      • people started to focus on how others perceived them
      • people became captivated by people who were bold and entertaining
      • performing self
  • agriculture society
    • on farms or in small towns
      • interact with people they’d known since childhood
  • urbanization, mass immigration

    • work with strangers

      • face the question of
        how to make a good impression on people
        to whom they had no civic or family ties

      • salesman

  • self-help book
    • change focus from inner virtue to outer charm in 1920s
      • “to know what to say and how to say it”
      • “To create a personality is power”
    • words used in the books
      • before 1920s
        • emphasized attributes that anyone could work on improving
          • citizenship
          • duty
          • work
          • golden deeds
          • honor
          • reputation
          • morals
          • manners
          • integrity
      • after 1920s
        • trickier to acquire. either you embodies these qualities or you didn’t
          • magnetic
          • fascinating
          • stunning
          • attractive
          • glowing
          • dominant
          • forceful
          • energetic
  • self presentation
    • focused on the hostile glare of the public spotlight
    • 1st impression
  • inferiority complex
    • was developed in the 1920s
      • feelings of inadequacy and their consequences
      • became an all-purpose explanation for problems in many areas of life, ranging from love to parenting to career
    • In fact, everyone had IC
      • Lincoln
      • Napoleon
      • Teddy
      • Roosevelt
      • Edison
      • Shakespeare
    • children
  • university admissions
    • look not for the most exceptional candidates
    • but for the most extroverted
    • “in screening applications from secondary schools he felt it was only common sense to take into account not only what the college wanted, but what, four years latter, corporations’ recruiters would want. ‘ They like a pretty gregarious, active type,’ he said. ‘So we find that the best man is the one who’s had an 80 or 85 average in school and plenty of extracurricular activity. We see little use for the “brilliant” introvert.’”
  • anti-anxiety drug
  • political
    • president campaign
  • religious
  • teens increasingly skilled at shaping their own online and offline personae

extrovert in DNA

  • less in Asia and Africa than in Europe and America
    • the world travelers were more extroverted than those who stayed home
    • pass on the trait to children

your biology, your self?

beyond temperament

the role of free will ( and the Secret of Public Speaking for introverts)

stretch our personalities to some point

  • reassure ourselves in the mind

preference for certain levels of stimulation

  • neither overstimulating nor under stimulating
  • sweet spots
    • understand you sweet spot can increase your satisfaction in every arena of your life, but it goes even further than that
  • introverts function better than extroverts when sleep deprived, which is a cortically de-arousing condition (because losing sleep makes us less alert, active and energetic)
    • drowsy extroverts
      • coffee
      • radio
    • introverts driving in loud, overly arousing traffic noise should work to stay focused, since the noise may impair their thinking

overarousal interferes

  • attention
  • short-term memory
    • key components of the ability to speak on the fly
    • public speaking for introverts


  • exposing yourself to the thing you’re afraid of over and over again, in manageable doses

Why cool is overrated

  • shy
  • slow to laugh
  • bored by small talk
  • serious-minded

Elaine Aron

  • “The problem for scientists is that we try to observe behavior, and these are things that you cannot observe”
    • If a person is standing in the corner of a room, you can attribute about 15 motivations to that person.
    • inner behavior was still behavior
  • highly sensitive
    • keen observers who look before they leap
    • arrange their lives in ways that limit surprises
    • often sensitive to sights, sounds, smells, pain, coffee
    • have difficulty when being
      • observed
        • at work
      • judged for general worthiness
        • dating
        • job interviews
    • tend to be philosophical or spiritual in their orientation rather than materialistic or hedonistic
    • dislike small talk
    • often describe themselves as creative or intuitive
    • dream vividly
      • often recall their dreams the next day
    • love music, nature, art, physical beauty
    • feel exceptionally strong emotions
      • acute bouts of joy
      • sorrow
      • melancholy
      • fear

is temperament destiny?


  • temperament
    • inborn, biologically based behavioral and emotional patterns that are observable in infancy and early childhood
  • personality
    • the complex brew that emerges after cultural influence and personal experience
      are thrown into the mix

Kagan’s research

  • two kinds of baby
    • arm-thrashing infants would likely turn into cautious, reflective teens
      • “high-reactive” to new sights, sounds, and smells
    • quiet babies were more likely to become forthright
      • nervous systems were unmoved by novelty
  • answer: physiologies
    • heart rate
    • blood pressure
    • finger temperature
    • other properties of the nervous system
  • amygdala

    • located deep in the limbic system
    • an ancient brain network found even in primitive animals like mice and rats
    • emotional switchboard
      • receive information from the senses and then signaling the rest of the brain
        and nervous system how to respond
  • “Every behavior has more than one cause.”
    Many routes to behaviors, such as slow-to-warm-up, shyness, impulsivity

    • introvert
      • health problems
      • environmental factors
      • many genes
      • interaction
  • a wide range of possible outcomes for each temperament
    • low-reactive, extroverted children, extroverted children, if raised by attentive families in safe environment
      • can grow up to be energetic achievers with big personalities
        • Richard Branson
    • same children with negligent caregivers or a bad neighborhood
      • bullies
      • juvenile delinquents
      • criminals
    • raise children
      • introvert
        • disapproval makes anxious
      • extrovert
        • role models

introvert disparaged, while extroverts care about others

  • whether sensitive to their environment

    • high reactive child

      • more eye movements than others to compare choices
        before making a decision

      • think and feel deeply about what they’re noticed

      • “putting theory into practice is hard for them because their sensitive natures and elaborate schemes are unsuited to the heterogeneous rigors of the schoolyard.”
      • underrated powers
        • alertness
        • sensitivity to nuance
        • complex emotionality

genetic basis

the most high-reactive kids are also influenced by the world around them

  • David Dobbs

    • the orchid hypothesis

      • extrovert
        • dandelions
          • able to thrive in just about any environment
      • introvert

        • high-reactive

          • orchids

            • wilt easily
            • but under the right conditions can grow strong and magnificent
            • more strongly and easily affected affected by all experience, both positive and negative

            • risk factors

              • are especially vulnerable to challenges like marital tension, a parent’s death, or abuse
              • more likely than their peers to react to these events with depression, anxiety, and shyness
              • risk factors also have an upside

                • the sensitivities and the strengths are a package deal

                  • High-reactive kids who enjoy good parenting, child care, and a stable home environment tend to have few emotional problems and more social skills than their lower-reactive peers, studies shows.

                    • exceedingly empathic, caring and cooperative
                    • kind, conscientious, and easily disturbed by cruelty, injustice, and irresponsibility
                    • successful at the things that matter to them
                    • some
                      • leader of class
                      • doing well academically
                      • being well-liked
                  • the parents of high reactive children are exceedingly lucky
                    • the time and effort they invest will actually make a difference
                    • children are malleable
                  • ideal parents
                    • someone who “can read your cues and respect your individuality; is warm and firm in placing demands on you without being harsh or hostile;
                      promotes curiosity, academic achievement, delayed gratification and self-control; and is not harsh, neglectful, or inconsistent

My notes

Are you saying that’s the only way to go? What if we took a different approach?
so nice and so tough at the same time

gentle way can be strong, too

I’m too quiet for this kind of thing, too unassuming, too cerebral

Great introvert people in the history

  • the theory of evolution

  • van Gogh

  • the theory of relativity

  • W.B. Yeats’s “The second Coming”

  • Chopin’s nocturnes

  • Proust’s In search of Lost Time

  • Peter Pan

  • Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and animal Farm

  • The Cat in the Hat

  • Charlie Brown

  • Schindler’s List, E.T., and Close Encounters of the Third Kind

  • Google

  • Harry Potter

  • Even in less obviously introverted occupations, like finance, politics, and activism, some of the greatest leap forward were made by introverts.

  • Eleanor Roosevelt

  • Al Gore

  • Warren Buffett

  • Gandhi

  • Rosa Parks