Quiet, Susan Cain
Definitely a personal favorite of mine, although the rating her comes with a disclaimer: if you’re an extrovert you will probably not enjoy reading Quiet and I wouldn’t be surprised if you dismiss most of its findings as gibberish. I read this at the same time as a colleague of mine – who is a textbook extrovert – and she labored through it. On the other hand – and I’d probably fall into the category of textbook introvert – I found myself physically nodding in some sections of the book as I the author wrote about the inefficiencies of brainstorming sessions, the detrimental aspects of open plan office spaces, and demonstrated how stereotypical leadership personality traits are often left wanting when it comes to corporate America. While the latter section of the book, where she gives advice to parents and teachers on dealing with introverts, was a little slow, in all it was a very enlightening read. A book that should be a standard manual, in my opinion, for anyone in a management or teaching position.
Publisher’s Weekly: While American culture and business tend to be dominated by extroverts, business consultant Cain explores and champions the one-third to one-half of the population who are introverts. She defines the term broadly, including “solitude-seeking” and “contemplative,” but also “sensitive,” “humble,” and “risk-averse.” Such individuals, she claims (though with insufficient evidence), are “disproportionately represented among the ranks of the spectacularly creative.” Yet the American school and workplace make it difficult for those who draw strength from solitary musing by over-emphasizing teamwork and what she calls “the new Groupthink.” Cain gives excellent portraits of a number of introverts and shatters misconceptions. For example, she notes, introverts can negotiate as well as, or better than, alpha males and females because they can take a firm stand “without inflaming [their] counterpart’s ego.” Cain provides tips to parents and teachers of children who are introverted or seem socially awkward and isolated. She suggests, for instance, exposing them gradually to new experiences that are otherwise overstimulating. Cain consistently holds the reader’s interest by presenting individual profiles, looking at places dominated by extroverts (Harvard Business School) and introverts (a West Coast retreat center), and reporting on the latest studies. Her diligence, research, and passion for this important topic has richly paid off.