Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain [Book Summary]


How can one evaluate or define a person’s personality? One approach is to determine where a person lies on the introvert-extrovert spectrum.

People that are extroverts are sociable and outgoing. They love to relate with people anytime they have the opportunity. They love attention and going out often; they have to be around people. For the extroverts, social status is directly signified by social connections, therefore, they need a lot of acquaintances, Facebook friends and followers on Twitter as possible.

Extroverts are disposed to liveliness and happiness in pursuit of success. They want recognition from the people that surround them and make an effort for instant successes. Say, for instance, they lose money on the stock market, they even invest more money in an attempt to instantly change this loss to a win.

On the other hand, Introverts like to be in calm circumstances and like to reflect long and tough about the errors they have committed. If they lose money on the stock market, they’ll possibly stop and take their time to reflect on the market again before they eventually invest more.

The introvert’s ability to reflect on experiences and sensory stimuli allows her to successfully start and complete artistic and intellectual projects. Introverts are capable to earn profits on the stock market during times of crisis and, all through history, have made some of our cultural milestones such as Schindler’s List and the theory of relativity.

Introverts are able to do those things since they love spending time silently by themselves, or with little groups of people, and it is easy to discuss personal and social issues. In contrast, extroverts have a tendency to have a lot of superficial acquaintances while introverts like less, although deeper, friendships.


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1 – A lot of introverts are very sensitive, frequently reacting strongly to their surroundings.


The majority of introverts still have a shared personality which is they are very sensitive. In contrast, extroverts, hardly show this characteristic.

People that are very sensitive process information from their environment in a strangely detailed manner. For example, if they ask them to look for images in picture puzzles, they will spend more time observing and get more engaged with the pictures than those who are not very sensitive.

Due to this complicated manner of observing, very sensitive people find thoughtful discussions about values and morals very intriguing than the superficial stories of a colleague’s recent vacation. Whereas extroverts involve in small talk, introverts talk about climate change.

Also, very sensitive people’s strong processing of information can be seen in their sympathetic nature. Disasters and cruelties have more of emotional influence on them. Their skin looks thinner, providing them less safety against the overwhelming daily impressions and perceptions.



As a result, introverts possess stern moral conscience: they are conscious of the impact their actions have on others and have a tendency to make their own mistakes to heart. To these very sensitive people, it really important to be understood positively by others, which makes it awkward for them to meet new people or to be interviewed.

It is, therefore, safe to say that very sensitive people feel emotions more intensely, observe changes immediately and respond very strongly to looks, sounds, pain, and stimulants, like coffee or alcohol.

Also, this sensitivity assists us in distinguishing between introversion and shyness: shy people are scared of a negative verdict, while introverts, as a result of their sensitivity, just like quiet surroundings with a bit of stimulation. However quiet and reserved, Bill Gates doesn’t bother about what others think of him, while Barbra Streisand is very outgoing but suffers from extreme stage fright. Bill Gates is an introvert, while Barbra Streisand is a shy extrovert.


2 – The difference between the two is cerebral: introverts’ brains display an intense reaction to external stimuli.


All of us feel comfortable in different circumstances. Some people find pleasure in a library; to them, even the idea of going to a techno club is unfathomable. Other people are the exact opposite: they feel more comfortable among a group of people, and it would make them go mad to spend a single afternoon in the library.

Why are these obvious?

In order to answer this question, psychologists and other researchers watched how infants reacted to specific stimuli. In an experiment, they held cotton swabs drenched in alcohol under the infants’ noses while at the same time playing a soundtrack of balloons bursting. The responses of the children showed two very different behavioral patterns:

20% of the infants were in the group of the high-reactive, meaning, they responded to the stimuli by shouting and kicking violently. Also, their pulse, as well as their blood pressure, increased severely.

40% of the infants were in the group of the low-reactive; they stayed cool and calm, barely responding to the stimuli at all.

These responses are controlled by the human brain’s emotional switchboard which is the amygdala which has the shape of an almond. The first place our sensory organs send the entire stimulus gotten from the outside world to is the amygdala. Afterward, the amygdala decides our reaction to this input.



The amygdala of high-reactive people is very sensitive. Because these people have mainly strong reactions to external stimuli, they eventually like low-stimulation environments, like libraries and develop into calm and thoughtful people: introverts.

In contrast, it is hard for the brains of low-reactive people to react to new impressions. This is the reason why in their childhood they stay uninfluenced by normal stimuli and find more stimulating surroundings, ultimately becoming nonchalant, lively extroverts.


3 – Introverted children are similar to orchids: they only flourish in the correct surrounding.


It is not just biology and genetics that form our personality: the experiences we accrue during the course of our lives also shape our personality. This is accurate, particularly for childhood experiences.

Extroverted children react to environmental stimuli similar to dandelions: they flourish in any surroundings and are practically incompetent of being misdirected. Introverted children are similar to orchids: they thrive in a supportive environment; while in the wrong surrounding, they close up.

Therefore, how can parents better cater to the needs of their introverted children? A good place to begin is by treating them with respect and compassion and being involved with them.

It is essential for parents to know that their child is introverted and to know why he or she is uncomfortable in specific circumstances, particularly those that have to do with big groups.



In the best-case scenario, parents initiate their introverted child to such experiences slowly. For instance, if a child is scared to talk in front of other people, parents might first boost the child to talk in front of friends they have trust in and slowly raise the number of people the child encounters. By doing this, the child can improve and have enough self-awareness and one day will eventually be able to talk in front of the whole class.

When introverted are being brought up in the right way, they can develop self-confidence and learn to improve their skills productively. However, when they are overstretched, overstimulated or rejected, they have a greater tendency of experiencing depression or respiratory disorders.


4 – A prototype successful extrovert succeeds in the Western world.


Who would you choose as more competent: an extrovert who fascinates the attention of other people and sets the tone, or an introvert who stays gently in a corner and listens?

Western society has a perfect reply to those questions. Extroverts are not just seen as more competent and intelligent due to their sociability; however, they are also more interesting and cooperative.

Extroverts are regularly considered as being more physically attractive and nonchalant. In contrast, the introvert ideal is soft, ordinary and awkward – perhaps even has bad skin or appears to be from another planet.

Based on this manner of viewing things, extroversion is regarded as more favorable for success in the Western world.

This is emphasized by the author’s journey to a seminar that was done by a motivational speaker called Tony Robbins. The seminar ranked extroversion high above every other thing, naming it the strategy of being unique in a competitive world.



This trend is the reason why professors at the Harvard Business School make it their job to change all their students into an extrovert. The program involves severe participation in seminars and teamwork in study groups. Part of the obligatory program also involves going out every night with fellow students.

A glimpse at Japanese and Korean universities shows a totally different view: regular students there prefer studying the entire day than going from bar to bar with friends. In seminars, they concentrate and take careful notes. Talking without being asked to talk is seen as being arrogant, wrong, big-mouthed and an indication of bad manners.

Diverse cultures value different personalities. Although extroverted behavior is commonly preferred to introverted personalities in Europe and America, while in Asia, the opposite of that is the case.


5 – The extroversion prototype is an advancement of the past 150 years.


At the start of the twentieth century, Dale Carnegie was brought up in a small town in Missouri. He was a classic introvert –thin, unathletic and anxious: far from being a great speaker.

However, anytime a speaker from the adult education movement visited his hometown, he was captivated by the man’s gift. Also in college, he was captivated by the winners of the rhetoric competition, who were seen as the leaders of the future.

 Carnegie was a determined man who worked hard to improve his skills. Eventually, he became a masterful speaker and a campus celebrity. After his graduation from college, he was a traveling salesman of bacon and soap, winning the hearts of customers all across America with a fascinating smile and a steady handshake. Afterward, he established the Dale Carnegie Institute, which was intended at assisting businessmen to defeat their uncertainties.

Fascinatingly, Carnegie’s transition reflects a common change in twentieth-century America – which is the change from rural values to urban values.

In America, during the nineteenth-century, communities were little and close-knit. If you were a hard worker, acted well and defend your fellow citizens, you’d get the respect and compliment of the community. It wasn’t necessary to call attention to yourself or say the type of person you were. Everybody in the community could notice it themselves.



But, the economic increase during the early twentieth century scattered these social structures; a lot of people migrated from the countryside to the obscurity of big, busy cities, where the normal saying was: “If you wish to win over other people, you need to be able to sell yourself.”

The new prototype of the successful American involved having an arrogant attitude, being open and friendly with other people and making use of one’s charm playfully, all the while being seen as an intelligent person.

Also, this improvement can also be noticed in the advertisements of the day. As a shaving cream producer cautioned customers in the 1930s, “CRITICAL EYES ARE LOOKING AT YOU RIGHT NOW.”

From the time of the early twentieth century, a desirable person is a person who is full of energy, charm us and fascinates us with his enticing charm.


6 – Flipping the change: introverts can also behave like an extrovert.


Over and over again, all determined introvert ends up in circumstances where being extroverted is required. Using the case of a college professor. Let’s say this professor is shy and calm, however, she also needs to fill her students with a passion for her topic matter.

Even though she’s an introvert, that does not stop her from changing into an extrovert mode. By contemplating upon herself as well as others, she can learn to adjust her mode to many different circumstances and to change to an extrovert at just the accurate instant.

Therefore, what does she do when she is lecturing? She shows normally extroverted characteristics: she uses long steps when she gets to the room, speaks openly and accurately while lecturing and keeps a nonchalant, relaxed posture.

Therefore, she can achieve her purpose; her students are fascinated by her lectures and ask her a lot of requests for letters of recommendation. Also, her classes continued far more smoothly.



After finishing the mission that is really essential for her which is providing a stimulating lecture – the professor then changes back into her normal mode of introversion, withdrawing to a silent corner of the library to enjoy the absence of social interaction.

Obviously, it is hard for some introverts to change modes. However, it has been revealed that several of them, particularly when they want to accomplish something that is significant, can defeat their introversion for a while and behave extroverted.


7 – Companies should not make workplaces designed for just extroverts.


 A lot of employers strongly believe that their staff functions best when their workplaces are ideally designed for the model of the extroverted worker. Due to that, presently, it’s really common to work in open offices, do group-brainstorming sessions and present workshop findings in interactive PowerPoint presentations.

Therefore, how do introverts survive working in an open office or partaking in group conversations? They’re regularly disturbed; it’s loud; their colleagues are openly aggressive. Stimuli run on them and lead to stress. Is it actually likely for them to perform well and make the best use of their potential in that type of surroundings?

The debate that the best method to work is as a team is certainly inspired by several successes accomplished by large working groups in the present decades. One need just contemplates about Wikipedia or the Linux operating system.

But people regularly ignore one important difference which is large groups of people may be the cause of these huge successes; however, real teamwork usually does not happen in an open-plan office or a meeting room. Instead, developers usually stay at home alone with their computers.



As a matter of fact, a good deal of noteworthy and creative successes have occurred in private. Steve Wozniak made the first Apple’s personal computer all by himself in his house; Newton created the law of gravity himself, without brainstorming or group conversations; and J.K. Rowling wrote the book, Harry Potter, alone.

Current offices make extroverts happy. But, companies jeopardize wasting their full potential if they disregard their introverted workers. Steve Wozniak highlights in his biography that a lot of the best creators he knows are artists, and they work best when they are alone. If you’re fortunate enough to have that type of person in your firm, you don’t need to force them into committees or teams, instead, permit them to work on ground-breaking projects in solitude.

To offer both extroverts and introverts appropriate surroundings, ensure that your workspace is flexible: provide an opportunity for employees to share ideas, switch and stay alone. A perfect solution is retractable walls which enable both integration and privacy.


8 – An actual skilled leader can join the gifts of introverts and extroverts.


How can employers take advantage of the different strengths of their introverted and extroverted employees? In order to determine how, a group of scientists told numerous teams to do a simple task –folding T-shirts very fast under the direction of either an extroverted or an introverted leader.

Although extroverted team leaders were successful in making their team abide exactly to the rules and work by the book to attain great performance heights; however there were less successful in reacting to individuals’ suggestions – for instance, how the T-shirts could be folded more fast and efficiently.

The study revealed the opposite among the introverted team leaders. Through their calm, a quiet trait made it hard for them to inspire their teams and enhance their efficiency level, they welcomed their teams’ suggestions and made used of all available ways to put good suggestions into action.

In the workplace, it can be claimed that an extroverted leading method is perfect when the aim is to finish a simple task as fast as possible. But, introverted leadership skills are crucial when team members want to be involved and suggest their own ideas.

Another difference between extroverted and introverted leaders was very obvious during the financial crisis of 2008. Extroverted leaders have a tendency of making immediate decisions based on small information. And a lot of those types of leaders had, certainly, made risky investments with their companies’ money. When the bubble burst, although, they paid extremely for their irresponsible risk-taking.



On the other hand, introverted leaders regularly collect a lot of information before making any decision. Companies who have introverted leaders were, therefore, less seriously affected by the crisis, having invested their money less riskily.

What can we take from this? When immediate decisions must be made, extroverted leaders are the best; when cautious thought is needed, it’s best to follow an introvert.

Overall, extroverted leaders should try to respect the skills of their introverted colleagues. Every personality type has abilities the other can benefit from.


9 – Both personalities can make the best use of their performance by cooperating.


Relations between introverts and extroverts are commonly described by misunderstanding. When clashes occur, extroverts have a habit of becoming aggressive and take the offensive, or overwhelming the introverts. The usual introvert withdraws from an open clash because he or she sees it as unpleasant – which the extrovert more regularly than not understands as a lack of interest.

It is just when both personalities talk to one another and make an effort to recognize each other’s view that they can accomplish great outcomes together.

The US president during World War II, Franklin D. Roosevelt was a standard extrovert. He was rash, full of life and cheerful, enjoyed going to parties, flirting and staying out late all night. Whereas, his wife Eleanor was extremely introverted; awkward and shy, she fancied thoughtful discussions and exited those exact parties as soon as possible.



Regardless of these huge differences, they achieved incredible things together. Eleanor opened the eyes of her husband’s to the troublesome fate of children suffering in poverty and of troubled minorities. When she discovered that the black singer Marian Anderson was not permitted to perform in Constitution Hall in 1939, Franklin and she joined his political power with her social integrity to ensure that Anderson would perform in front of the Lincoln Memorial on Easter Sunday.

Also, these personalities can complement one other on a smaller scale. Sometimes, an open-minded extrovert also prefers deeper discussion to small talk. And introverts can be moved by the liveliness of extroverts, accepting them as someone that provides a refreshing change in their different calm daily life.

Combining both personalities worthy of an employer’s trial, as each has unique skills–skills they can share with each one another and with the company at large.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain Book Review


Both introverts and extroverts have skills that can be very relevant to the people around them. Both personalities need to be given the space they require to achieve their potential.


The questions these chapters provided answers to are:

How to distinguish between introverted and extroverted people?

Extroverts like noise and require stimuli, while introverts typically like to be alone and reflect.

A lot of introverts are very sensitive, regularly reacting extremely to their surroundings.

The difference is cerebral: introverts’ brains display a stronger reaction to external stimuli.

Introverted children are similar to orchids: they only flourish in the accurate surrounding.

What is the reason why extroverts regularly have it easier?

The example of the successful extrovert succeeds in the Western world.

The extroversion ideal is an improvement of the past 150 years.

Flipping the switch: introverts can also behave like extroverts.

How can the specific qualities of introverts and extroverts be maximized to attain excellence?

Companies should not make workplaces designed just for extroverts.

A really skilled leader can join both the skills of introverts and extroverts.

Both personalities can make the best use of their performance by cooperating.


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