Quiet By Susan Cain

The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

A third of the world’s people are introverts. Rosa Parks was a hero, as she was a Black that refused to give up her seat to a White when ordered by the bus driver to do so. There comes a time that people get tired of being trampled over by the iron feet of oppression. Introversion or extroversion is an integral part of our personality. Animals in the animal kingdom also display such traits. However, society seems to value extroverts more highly. Many like to pretend they are extroverts, even when they aren’t one. For instance, fast talkers are often rated highly. In addition, talkative people are rated smarter, and with better looks. However, many of the successful people in the past were introverts, including Einstein, Newton, Schulz, Spielberg, J.K. Rowling, amongst others. Even teachers believe that extroversion works better for students. Introverts are also known as thinkers. Introverts seldom lose their temper or raise their voice. This is crucial in a negotiation. Be comfortable with who you are, whether you are an introvert or not. Introverts are typically stimulated by books, while extroverts by people. Introverts do not act rashly and rush into decisions without thinking. Also, typically, they are not attracted to money or fame. Not all introverts are shy. Introverts also tend to be very sensitive people. 70% of sensitive people are introverts. It is important to be yourself.

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

Men regarded ability in speaking as a peculiar gift, needed only by the lawyer, clergyman, or statesman. Today we have come to realize that it is the indispensable weapon of those who would forge ahead in the keen competition of business. – Dale Carnegie

Dale Carnegie started off as an introvert, but honed his speaking ability such that he was extremely successful. There was a shift from the Culture of Character to a Culture of Personality. Everyone wanted to be in the sales line and generate a good first impression. Advertisements have also spear headed the importance of being an extrovert with a personality. Men were supposed to be dominant, outspoken and flirtatious in front of women. People looked up to ‘go-getters’. Shy people were likely to suffer inferiority complex. The introversion/extroversion trait is also inherently genetically transmitted. One in five suffers from shyness, or social anxiety disorder. Have we sacrificed something by moving from Character to Personality?

As personality traits are genetically transmitted, each succeeding wave of emigrants to a new continent would give rise over time to a population of more engaged individuals than reside in the emigrant’s continent of origin. – Kenneth Olson

People pay money for courses on how to become more energetic in life. Be exuberant at work every day. Tony Robbins is someone who is known for conducting such courses. He emphasized a lot on success and sales. However, in reality, not everyone is suited for such a role and one can be successful in other aspects of life. He focuses on the need to feel and be superior to others. Many in the audience did not realize that he was subtly marketing his more expensive packages. Nowadays, people feel that being more extroverted makes them successful, and also better. The students in Harvard Business School (HBS) portray the Tony Robbins image from their demeanour and mannerisms. It is very hard to find an introvert in HBS. The school teaches students to act quickly and decisively, even with incomplete information. Speaking up in class feels like it is mandatory. There is a cultural difference between Americans and the Chinese with regards to introversion/extroversion. The quiet guy with the best ideas often gets neglected in a group discussion. Leadership has to be vocal. We tend to follow those who initiate action, any type of action. The best presenters are not the ones usually with the best ideas. Some of the leading CEOs are actually introverts in nature. Extroverted leaders work better with passive employees. Introverted leaders work better with proactive employees. Rosa Parks was someone who was unassuming, and with high values of integrity. Moses was also an example of an introvert. Introverts are more active on social media platforms online. Does God love introverts?

Often the leaders end up doing a lot of the talking, and not listening to any of the ideas that the followers are trying to provide. – Francesca Gino

I am a horse for a single harness, not cut out for tandem or teamwork…for well I know that in order to attain any definite goal, it is imperative that one person do the thinking and the commanding. – Albert Einstein

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. – Steven Wozniak

Stephen Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple, created the PC design, largely by himself. An artist works best when alone. Most of the creative people described themselves as introverts. Modern society values group work extremely highly. Groupthink might result in this. Teams are used very commonly nowadays, especially in corporate environments. Not everyone aspires to a leader sometimes. Crowdsourcing is the ‘in’ thing. There are many successful open source systems like Linux, Wikipedia etc. Studies have shown that the best violinists spend a lot of time alone to practice their instrument. To them, group practices were ‘leisure’. When you are alone, you can engage in Deliberate Practice. This requires concentration, motivation and something that you find is personally challenging. Patience is a very important virtue. The working environment should be conducive as well in order for the individual to thrive working alone/ Multitasking is a myth and leads to more errors produced in work. One needs his/her personal space. Freedom from peer pressure is also crucial in order to produce one’s best works. Brainstorming (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). The more people are involved, the worse the ideas become. Group brainstorming is not very effective. The main 3 reasons why group brainstorming fails are 1) social loafing (some will shirk); 2) Production blocking (only 1 person can speak at one time); 3) Evaluation apprehension (the fear of looking stupid in front of one’s peers). Some sports teams also play better behind closed doors.

The author suffers from anxiety when giving speeches to crowds. Nature or nurture? Babies who were highly reactive to stimuli turned out to be very quiet in their adulthood. Some introverts choose the ‘life of the mind’. Temperament is the foundation, personality is the building. The brain’s amygdala reacts to stimuli. Highly reactive kids were more alert to their surroundings and tended to make more sound decisions. Studies have shown that traits like introversion/extroversion are about 50% hereditary. Our temperaments will definitely shape our future personalities. Look back at your childhood and determine whether you were high or low reactive in nature. Introverts are much more likely to fear public speaking as compared to extroverts. Reactive kids are averse to novelty. Most kids are like dandelions and are very adaptable to situations. However, highly reactive kids are like orchids which are very fragile. Highly reactive tend to be more affected by both positive and negative events. However, if brought up properly in stable homes, highly reactive kids become emotionally more stable than normal kids.

If you spend a lot of time charging around, then you have less time for reading and learning. There’s only so much time in your life. – Jerry Miller

Enjoyment appears at the boundary between boredom and anxiety, when the challenges are just balanced with the person’s capacity to act. – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

‘Rubber band theory’ states that we can stretch ourselves to develop our full potential. We are elastic, but only by so much. You could tell yourself to act in a certain extroverted manner, but once you are under stress, you will revert back to your old introverted self. Introverts actually prefer less stimulation as compared to extroverts. Introverts are generally more sensitive to outside stimuli. Introverts require a quiet environment to produce their best work. The extroverts, on the other hand, require a more active environment. Under or over-stimulating are both undesirable outcomes. When you feel your concentration levels are dropping, look for more or less stimulation. Spend as much time in your sweet spot as possible. For introverts to be well-versed in public speaking, it is necessary for them to prepare and rehearse adequately. To overcome your fear, exposing yourself to it in reasonable doses might help. Desensitize yourself about the fears. Introverts have trouble projecting artificial enthusiasm.

Eleanor Roosevelt spoke out of conscience, while Franklin Roosevelt was a good politician. In reality, she was an introvert, while he was an extrovert. High sensitive people dislike small talk, as it does not interest them. People like that also can better empathize with others. Eleanor started relating to the poor and the less fortunate. She gradually grew to love speaking in public and the public life in general. Highly sensitive kids are often filled with guilt the moment they commit something wrong. Animals are also largely divided into the introverted and the extroverted kind. Introverted people actually enjoy small talk, however, only after they know the person well enough. In a relationship, if one party is an extrovert and another an introvert, it might be good as well.

When you go to a football game and someone offers you a beer, they’re really saying hi, have a glass of extroversion. – Brian Little

Some people are reward-sensitive. This means that they are too drawn and focused on rewards that they take on excessive risks. GM and Time Warner are examples of stocks which had warning signs before they fell spectacularly. There are many who keep buying the stock even though the price is falling. Even smart people are reward-sensitive. This affects extroverts more than introverts. Introverts are more disciplined and will stick to a plan. Extroverts like to socialize as they think it is gratifying. They buzz very easily and extremely eager and energetic to pursue their goals. Extroverts should listen to introverts on problem solving techniques. Stable introverts tend to be good traders. Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. In certain organizations, introverts get ignored, even if they try to sound the alarm bells. The longer you pause and think, the more you learn about an incident. Introverts are more vigilant and will scan for problems. Research has shown that introverts outperform extroverts in numerous tests. Anticipating reward will cause one to take one additional risks. Try to avoid showing the reward first. To achieve flow, you need to provide rewards for yourself and not rely on external rewards. The key for introverts is to be yourself and don’t be influenced by how others behave. According to Buffett, there are two kinds of people; those who follow his/her own instincts and those who follow the herd.

Being relatively unmoved by rewards gives you the incalculable power to go your own way. It’s up to you to use that independence to good effect. – Susan Cain

In a state of flow, you’re neither bored nor anxious, and you don’t question your own adequacy. Hours pass without your noticing. – Susan Cain

Asian Chinese tend to be more soft-spoken, placing more emphasis on listening. Being smart is highly valued in the Asian context. In Asian cultures, students tend to focus more on grades, being studious, and not creating unnecessary ripples. Many Western schools are trying to get more Asians to participate during classes. Characteristics to describe Asian kids include humble, altruistic, honest and hardworking. For Western kids, they are cheerful, enthusiastic and sociable. Asians place more value on hierarchy and the community. Westerners are more individualistic. The Extrovert Ideal VS Silence is Golden. People from different cultures teach each other with respect, due to relationship honouring. Asians are pressured to feel outgoing in the presence of Westerners. Sometimes if you don’t talk, you come across as being weak or lacking. It’s easier to hang out among people who have the same personality type as you. Presentation skills are the key to succeed in business. Gandhi was a passive man, and even though he often compromised on certain issues, he will patiently and quietly push for his cause. Gandhi saw an ultimate goal, and did not waver at all, despite all the obstacles along the way. Quiet persistence is a trait that is seen in academically strong students.

Remember, in Silicon Valley, you can be the smartest, most capable person, but if you can’t express yourself aside from showing your work, you’ll be underappreciated. Many foreign-born professionals experience this; you’re a glorified labourer instead of a leader. – Susan Cain

In the long run, if the idea is good, people shift. If the cause is just and you put heart into it, it’s almost a universal law: you will attract people who want to share your cause. Soft power is quiet persistence. – Susan Cain

A man has as social selves as there are distinct groups of persons about whose opinion he cares. He generally shows a different side of himself to each of these different groups. – William James

Introverts prefer one-on-one encounters with friends. At times, situational factors play a bigger role in predicting behaviour than one’s personality. There are psychologists who believe in situationism. Is there such a thing as a fixed personality? Is it possible to fine tune our personality? Free Trait Theory – ‘we are born and culturally endowed with certain personality traits – introversion, for example – but we can and do act out of character in the service of “core personal projects.”’ If something is meaningful to you and you have strong support for it, it is possible to act out of character convincingly. Believing others rather than yourself is tiring. But it’s worth it if it’s in the service of love or a professional calling. Behavioural leakage is when our true selves seep out an unconscious body language. Introverts are good at self-monitoring and act according to cues. If you practice pseudo-extroversion that is not on your core personal projects, you will be likely to feel demotivated and fail instead. 3 ways to determine what your core projects are include thinking of what you liked as a child; pay attention to the work you gravitate to; pay attention to what you envy. Create restorative niches for yourself. These could be places where you like to hang out or a certain activity that you like to do. Negotiate free trait agreements with your friends and peers so that you will still have time for yourself. Set free trait agreements for yourself. For example, join one networking event every month and follow up with the person you have met. Once that is done, you will not feel guilty for the rest of month. There is no need to overdo it and socialize too much if you are not comfortable with it. If you want to act out of character, you need restorative niches to prevent yourself from burning out.

Introverts like people they meet in friendly contexts; extroverts prefer those they compete with. – Susan Cain

Opposites attract. The Big 5 personality test includes traits like I) Introversion-Extroversion; 2) Agreeableness; 3) Openness to Experience; 4) Conscientiousness; and 5) Emotional Stability. There is no relation between extroversion and agreeableness. Agreeableness is the key to avoiding conflict with others. When introverts argue with extroverts, the matter could escalate as the extrovert will tend to raise his/her voice but the introvert will hide in his/her shell to avoid aggression. Venting anger does not calm you down afterwards. It fuels more anger. For an extrovert, learn to adapt to the conflict-avoidance style of the introvert and try to calm yourself down. For an introvert, she can attempt to accept being in the wrong or she can actually fight back. Learn to tap into the other party’s empathy. Introverts are better social observers than participators. Introverts tend to discuss more serious topics and play the roles of counsellors. However, extroverts tended to discuss on more general topics. Introverts and extroverts have much to offer to one another.

I discovered early on that people don’t buy from me because they understand what I’m selling. They buy because they feel understood. – Jon Berghoff, a salesman of knives

I got to the point where I could walk into someone’s house and instead of trying to sell them some knives, I’d ask a hundred questions in a row. I could manage the entire conversation just by asking the right questions. – Jon Berghoff, a salesman of knives

There is nothing wrong with being passive. Parents need to view things from the kid’s perspective. In addition, converting him/her to an extroverted personality would not help. Would introverted parents be better at taking care of introverted kids? Not necessarily. If you relate to your kid’s experience when young, this will be very encouraging for the kid. Introverts might be over-stimulated by novelty. Exposure to new environments should be gradual. Do not label your child as being shy in their presence. If you’re an introvert, it helps if you arrive first for events. It feels that people are entering your space instead. Introverts tend to have one or deep interests that others may not necessarily have. Collaborative group work in small numbers is fine. There are many paths to a satisfying life. Let your child pick the sport/activity he/she likes best. Even solo hobbies like painting have its fair share of enthusiasts.

People flourish when they’re engaged in occupations, roles or settings that are concordant with their personalities. – Brain Little

I haven’t overcome my shyness. It is sitting in the corner, calling to me. But I am passionate about changing our schools, so my passion overcomes my shyness once I get started on a speech. If you find something that arouses your passion or provides a welcome challenge, you forget yourself for a while. It’s like an emotional vacation. – LouAnne Johnson

Love is essential; gregariousness is optional. Cherish your nearest and dearest. Work with colleagues you like and respect. Scan new acquaintances for those who might fall into the former categories or whose company you enjoy for its own sake. And don’t worry about socializing with everyone else. Relationships make everyone happier, introverts included, but think quality over quantity. – Susan Cain

Figure out what you are meant to contribute to the world and make sure you contribute it. If this requires public speaking or networking or other activities that make you uncomfortable, do them anyway. – Susan Cain

Do things you like and not do what you are supposed to, during your free time. Let your children be themselves. Follow your passions. As teachers, cultivate the introverts. As managers, provide a conducive environment for introverts to thrive. One third to half of people are introverts. Make the most of what you have and are good at.

Introverts are offered keys to private gardens full of riches. To possess such a key is to tumble like Alice down her rabbit hole. She didn’t choose to go to Wonderland – but she made of it an adventure that was fresh and fantastic and very much her by own. Lewis Carroll was an introvert, too, by the way. Without him, there would be no Alice in Wonderland. And by now, this shouldn’t surprise us. – Susan Cain




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