I know, I know—I won’t shut up about this book. But that’s because everyone should read it. Even if you don’t find it life-changing, as I did, it’s full of fascinating and truly important revelations.
And it’s an easy, fun read. It reads almost like a novel. It was voted the Best Nonfiction Book of 2012 by Goodreads.com.
Early in the book, Cain offers an informal quiz to help you determine where you fall on the introvert/extrovert spectrum. Here are a few questions—answer true or false.
1. I prefer one-on-one conversations to group activities
2. I often prefer to express myself in writing.
3. People tell me I’m a good listener.
4. I’m not a big risk-taker.
5. I tend to think before I speak.
If you answered true to most of these questions, you’re probably an introvert; mostly false answers and you are likely an extrovert. Ambiverts fall in the middle.
Unfortunately, our present-day society values extroversion over introversion to such an extent that introverts—people who tend to reflect longer before speaking or acting—are often marginalized, silenced, or made to feel inadequate. This is a great loss. While extroverted qualities like thinking on one’s feet and risk-taking have great benefits, they lead to disaster when not tempered by the voices of careful reflection and caution. Think Financial Crisis of 2008. We need both kinds of voices in our world.
I found Quiet most compelling when it discussed the everyday circumstance in which introvert and extrovert needs come into conflict. For instance:
· You can’t understand why your husband wants to invite people for a party every Friday night, while you desperately need quiet time to recharge at the end of the work week.
· Your child doesn’t want to participate in group sports or activities after school, preferring to read or draw in his room.
· Your company is moving to more open workspace with less privacy in order to promote collaboration and team-building.
(Side-note to those folks in the business world: Cain presents research that absolutely dispels the myth that “group brainstorming” is an effective strategy and that more open office space is conducive to productivity. Quite the opposite, in fact.)
Regardless of whether you’re an extrovert or an introvert, Quiet will give you amazing insight into what makes you the way you are. In fact, even if you haven’t got an ounce of introversion in you, you should still read Quiet because it will help you understand those who do, whether that person is your partner or sister or employee or child.