Quiet is less about quiet than it is about people and how to embrace the diversity of personalities we see at school, at home, at work. This isn’t a book that shouts its thesis, despite the title, but demonstrates it calmly and thoughtfully.
The other thing this book isn’t is a self-help book; rather, this is a book directed outward at extroverts rather than the introverts who are described within. The author uses case studies, amalgamated stories, and her own history as an introvert working in extroverted fields to illuminate the differences in world views, not to run one down and build the other up but rather to show how complementary the two are.
We don’t need giant personalities to transform companies. We need leaders who build not their own egos but the institutions they run. – page 55
The thing is, because the qualities of introverts are so often overlooked as leaders of industry, of government, much of what Cain says is easily read as saying introverts are better than extroverts, when what she’s really saying is that introverts are different than. She discusses extrovert privilege (oh no that word–which Cain doesn’t explicitly use) and the development of the “extrovert ideal” seen in many Western (particular USAmerican) countries, and how this preference for the outgoing, the gregarious, and the loud often swallows the voices of the introspective, the intimate, and the quiet.
…we should actively seek out symbiotic introvert-extrovert relationships, in which leadership and other tasks are divided according to people’s natural strengths and temperaments. – p. 93
As an introvert, some things in this book surprised me, some didn’t, and some will be incredibly helpful, I think, going forward; things that I can keep in mind and remind myself about when I’m having a particularly “people-intensive” day.
Good read for introverts and the people who love them, ambiverts, and anyone interested in the subtleties in the “nature/nurture” and free will questions, among several others. Also highly recommended for parents of introverted children.