Summary: Quiet by Susan Cain
Summary: Quiet by Susan Cain

Summary: Quiet by Susan Cain

Western Society Favors Extroverts.

From the prestigious Harvard Business School to a lesser known religious organization, extroverts are more likely to be welcomed and fit in. HBS structures its curriculum and extra-curricular activities in a way that promotes openness and collaboration. Businesses eliminate physical and communication barriers to encourage employees become more outspoken and transparent. Even seasoned VCs appear to be more confident in entrepreneurs who have assertive and persuasive personalities, in other words, people who are ‘talk show’ ready.

Once successful VC who is regularly pitched by young entrepreneurs told Susan how frustrated he is by his colleagues’ failure to distinguish between good presentation skills and true leadership abilities. There are put in positions of authorities because they’re good talkers, not because they have good ideas. It’s so easy to confuse schmoozing ability with talent. We put too much premium on presenting and not enough on substance and critical thinking.


Are you an Introvert or Extrovert?

Introverts are more likely to Extroverts are more likely to
Be drawn to inner world of thoughts and feelings Are drawn to external life of people and activities
Focus on the meaning of events Plunge into the events around them
Recharge by being solitary Recharge by socializing
Feel good with little stimulation (e.g. quietly sipping wine) Feel good with large stimulation (e.g. partying, cranking up the headphone volume)
Focus on one task at a time Focus on multitasking
Are more immune to social status More assertive, dominant and are more comfortable with conflict
Listen more, dislike conflict and think before speaking Amplify positive emotions


Are you an Introvert or are you just Shy?

Shyness is the fear of social disapproval and humiliation, while introversion is the preference of solitude. Shyness is painful. Introversion often isn’t.  Shy person in the meeting avoids not to speak up because he’s afraid of rejection while an introvert in the same situation is silently observing and processing data in his head. But to the external observer, there seems to be no difference.


If you’re an Introvert, chances are you have a High reactivity.

Introverts have a more sensitive brain chemistry than extroverts. They’re also more alert to changes which makes them more prone to the release of cortisol, a stress hormone. This is also the reason why introverts are easily flooded in social settings and new environment.


A high reactive introvert needs less stimuli.

Fewer people, lower volume, less coffee, quieter environment are placed Introverts thrive in. Extroverts are quite the opposite. Experiments showed introverts indeed performed better with less stimuli (softer music).


An individual can inherit 40-50% of introversion/extroversion from the parents.

What you’re born with, that is temperament, is fixed and there’s little you can do about it. Temperaments no matter how you control shows up now and then, especially under stressful conditions. What you can control over time is your personality, that is the other half after your inheritance.


Low reactive Dandelions tend to have fewer experiences and are more easily influenced by external factors.

Because they’re more sensitive to both good and bad environments, they’re more likely to slip into depression and social anxiety. The upside is they also thrive better in stable home and good parenting. If that’s the case, they experience fewer emotional problems and have more social skills.


Introverts also learn better.

Sure, they’re less impulsive and think more. But what’s interesting is they also slow down after they make a mistake, which gives them an opportunity to learn better than extroverts.


Our personality is like a rubber band.

We can stretch to a certain point but no matter how much time Bill Clinton spend with the computers, he will never become Bill Gates. Likewise, Bill Gates will never become Clinton no matter how much he develop his social skills.


The Myth of Charismatic Leadership.

Extroverted and charismatic leaders tend to enjoy higher salary but doesn’t necessarily perform better. As Susan puts it, we need leaders who build not their egos, but the institutions they run.


Introvert leaders are more effective with active teams.

Extroverts attain higher performance when their teams are passive. This is because extroverts tend to downplay the voice of others, while introverts listen more and put those ideas to the test.


Alone practice is best predictor of success.

When you’re practicing alone, you’re working on what’s most challenging to you, not to the team. Plus, you can put in directed and undisturbed focus.


Brainstorming in person doesn’t work.

Traditional brainstorming happens in four pillars:

  1. Generate as many ideas as possible
  2. Don’t judge or criticize ideas
  3. Be freewheeling, don’t censor your ideas
  4. Build on the ideas of fellow group members

But it rarely works. Because people produce more and higher quality ideas when left alone. Groups alter people’s mind in a way that promotes groupthink and conformity.


But without brainstorming, there wouldn’t have been Linux.

That’s only half true because Linux was a product of millions of people on the Internet built on each other’s efforts. The earliest open source creators didn’t share an office space, often they didn’t even live in the same country. Their collaboration took place largely in the ether.

But if you put all these people into a room for a year and let them brainstorm, it’s doubtful Linux would have been born.


Brainstorm alone, then evaluate in team.

Make people come up with ideas before the meeting, where the team evaluates each idea.


Internet empowers Introverts.

The same person who doesn’t speak up in a lecture hall with a hundred people has no second thoughts to write a blog that tells a million people. The same person who finds it difficult to introduce himself at a bar can now gather millions of followers online.


The difference between reserved Tom and extroverted Ralph is striking.

Tom who is unusually shy as a child is good at school, watchful and quiet, devoted to his girlfriend and parents, prone to worry and loves learning on his own and thinking on intellectual problems. He plans to be a scientist.

Ralph in contrast is relaxed and self-assured. He is bright, recently failed his English in science class because he has been goofing around, but nothing much bothers Ralph. He admits his flaws cheerfully.


For an introvert, talk is for communicating need to know information. Quiet and introspection is a sign of deep thought and higher truth.

Words are potentially dangerous weapons that reveal things better left unsaid. They hurt other people, they can get their speaker into trouble.


West subscribes to Extrovert ideal while in much of the Asia, silence is golden.

Consider for example these proverbs from the East.

”The wind hounds but the mountain remains still.” – Japanese proverb

“Those who know do not speak. Those who speak do not know.” – Lao Zhu

Compare them to proverbs from the West.

“Be a craftsman in speech. From the strength of one is the tongue. And the speech is mightier than all fighting.”

“Speech is civilization itself. The word even the most contradictory word preserves contact. It is silence which isolates.”

These contrasting outlooks affect the way we say when our room-mates dishes pile up in the sink and the things we don’t say in a university classroom.


Expose yourself and your child gradually to new situations and people.

While taking care of your limits even when they see extreme. Let yourself know your feelings are normal and natural, but also that there’s nothing to be afraid of. “I know it can feel funny to play with someone you’ve never met. But I bet that boy will love to play trucks with you if you asked him.”

Go with your child pace, don’t rush him. If he’s young, make the initial introduction with the other youths if you have to.


If you want your child to learn social skills, don’t let them hear you call them ‘shy’.

They’ll believe the label and experience their nervousness as the fixed trait, rather than the emotion they can control. They’ll also know for well that shy is a negative word in our society.

Be a role model by greeting strangers in a calm and friendly way, and by getting together with your own friends.


Look confident, even if you’re not feeling it.

3 simple reminders go along way:

  1. Smile
  2. Stand up straight
  3. Make eye contact