Susan Cain


American Writer and Lecturer, Author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

Author Quotes

When people are skilled at adopting free traits, it can be hard to believe that they?re acting out of character. Professor Little?s students are usually incredulous when he claims to be an introvert. But Little is far from unique; many people, especially those in leadership roles, engage in a certain level of pretend-extroversion.

You will find this hard to believe, but I've never laughed as much as I did when I was a corporate lawyer. When you're working 16 hours a day for months at a time, you get punchy. Everything and everyone seems hilarious.

When Professor Little introduced the concept of self-monitoring to his personality psychology classes, some students got very worked up about whether it was ethical to be a high self-monitor. A few mixed couples?HSMs and LSMs in love?even broke up over it, he was told. To high self-monitors, low self-monitors can seem rigid and socially awkward. To low self-monitors, high self-monitors can come across as conformist and deceptive?more pragmatic than principled, in Mark Snyder?s words. Indeed, HSMs have been found to be better liars than LSMs, which would seem to support the moralistic stance taken by low self-monitors.

You wouldn?t be reading this book if I hadn?t convinced my publisher that I was enough of a pseudo-extrovert to promote it.

When she died in 2005 at the age of ninety-two, the flood of obituaries recalled her as soft-spoken, sweet, and small in stature. They said she was timid and shy but had the courage of a lion. They were full of phrases like radical humility and quiet fortitude.

Your tendency to be inward-directed or outward-directed is huge; it governs every part of the way you live and work and love.

When you go to a football game and someone offers you a beer [...], they're really saying hi, have a glass of extroversion.

Where we fall on the introvert-extrovert spectrum. Our place on this continuum influences our choice of friends and mates, and how we make conversation, resolve differences, and show love. It affects the careers we choose and whether or not we succeed at them. It governs how likely we are to exercise, commit adultery, function well without sleep, learn from our mistakes, place big bets in the stock market, delay gratification, be a good leader,

Where we fall on the introvert-extrovert spectrum... influences our choice of friends and partners, and how we make conversation, resolve differences and show love. It affects the careers we choose and whether or not we succeed at them.

We tend to forget that there?s nothing sacrosanct about learning in large group classrooms, and that we organize students this way not because it?s the best way to learn but because it?s cost-efficient, and what else would we do with our children while the grown-ups are at work? If your child prefers to work autonomously and socialize one-on-one, there?s nothing wrong with her; she just happens not to fit the prevailing model. The purpose of school should be to prepare kids for the rest of their lives, but too often what kids need to be prepared for is surviving the school day itself.

While early print ads were straightforward product announcements (EATON?S HIGHLAND LINEN: THE FRESHEST AND CLEANEST WRITING PAPER), the new personality-driven ads cast consumers as performers with stage fright from which only the advertiser?s product might rescue them.

We tend to think of coolness as a pose that you strike with a pair of sunglasses, a nonchalant attitude, and drink in hand. But maybe we didn?t choose these social accessories at random. Maybe we?ve adopted dark glasses, relaxed body language, and alcohol as signifiers precisely because they camouflage signs of a nervous system on overdrive.

While extroverts tend to attain leadership in public domains, introverts tend to attain leadership in theoretical and aesthetic fields. Outstanding introverted leaders, such as Charles Darwin, Marie Curie, Patrick White and Arthur Boyd, who have created either new fields of thought or rearranged existing knowledge, have spent long periods of their lives in solitude. Hence leadership does not only apply in social situations, but also occurs in more solitary situations such as developing new techniques in the arts, creating new philosophies, writing profound books and making scientific breakthroughs.

We tend to write Moses? true personality out of the Exodus story. (Cecil B. DeMille?s classic, The Ten Commandments, portrays him as a swashbuckling figure who does all the talking, with no help from Aaron.) We don?t ask why God chose as his prophet a stutterer with a public speaking phobia. But we should. The book of Exodus is short on explication, but its stories suggest that introversion plays yin to the yang of extroversion; that the medium is not always the message; and that people followed Moses because his words were thoughtful, not because he spoke them well.

Who could be happy in a world of podiums and microphones?

We're told that to be great is to be bold, to be happy is to be sociable. We see ourselves as a nation of extroverts -- which means that we've lost sight of who we really are. Depending on which study you consult, one-third to one half of Americans are introverts -- in other words one out of every two or three people you know.

Why shouldn?t quiet be strong? And what else can quiet do that we don?t give it credit for?

We've known about the transcendent power of solitude for centuries; it's only recently that we've forgotten it.

Will this job allow me to spend time on in-character activities like, for example, reading, strategizing, writing, and researching? Will I have a private workspace or be subject to the constant demands of an open office plan? If the job doesn?t give me enough restorative niches, will I have enough free time on evenings and weekends to grant them to myself?

What if you love knowledge for its own sake, not necessarily as a blueprint to action? What if you wish there were more, not fewer reflective types in the world?

Women were also urged to work on a mysterious quality called 'fascination.' Coming of age in the 1920's was a competitive business...

What is the inner behavior of people whose most visible feature is that when you take them to a party they aren't very pleased about it?

Work alone. You can create revolutionary products with better performance if you work on it yourself. Not in the group. Not in the team.

What's interesting is relative levels of introversion tend to stay the same. If you went back to your reunion from school, you would probably find that if you ranked everyone in your class into terms of levels of introversion and extroversion you'd still be the same rank.

You can't pick up a business magazine ever without seeing the word 'collaborate' splashed all over it. I think people are probably feeling assaulted by the need to always be on and always be interacting.

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American Writer and Lecturer, Author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking