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Quiet Susan Cain Summary



What is the difference between introverted and extroverted people?


We all know people who are very quiet and prefer to be alone. On the other hand, there are some people who tend to like noise and are more outgoing. But is there really a way to measure someone’s personality?

One way to do this is to figure out where a person falls on the introvert-extrovert spectrum.


Extroverts are sociable and outgoing. They like to interact with others whenever they get the chance. They enjoy being in the spotlight and going out frequently; they need to be surrounded by people. For them, social status is directly indicated by social connections, so they want as many friends as possible.


Introverts, in contrast, prefer to be in calm situations and like to think long and hard about the mistakes they have made. They enjoy spending time quietly by themselves, or with small groups of people and find it easy to have deep conversations. While extroverts tend to have many superficial friends, introverts prefer fewer but deeper, friendships.


In her book called Quiet, Susan Cain talks about the strengths and needs of both introverts and extroverts. So if you want to learn more about this, keep watching. In this summary, I’ll share with you three key lessons that I learned from the book.



Key lesson #1: Introverts are highly sensitive and show a stronger response to the external stimuli


Introverts are usually highly sensitive but extroverts are rarely like that. People who are highly sensitive process information from their environment in a deep way. They are also more sympathetic and tragedies have more of an emotional impact on them. Highly sensitive people feel emotions more deeply, notice changes more quickly, and react more strongly to looks, sounds, and pain. This sensitivity also helps us define the difference between introversion and shyness: shy people are afraid of negative judgment, whereas introverts, because of their sensitivity, just prefer quiet environments with little stimulation.

Though quiet and reserved, Bill Gates doesn’t seem to care what others think of him, whereas Barbra Streisand is extremely outgoing but suffers from severe stage fright. The former is an introvert, while the latter is a shy extrovert.

One more thing about introverts is that they are usually highly reactive to the environment. They end up preferring low-stimulation surroundings, such as libraries and mature into reserved and thoughtful people. On the other hand, extroverts are low-reactive people and it is difficult for them to respond to new impressions. That is why in their childhood they remain unaffected by normal stimuli and seek out more stimulating environments, eventually becoming lively extroverts.



Key lesson #2: Introverts can flip the switch and act like extroverts


Time and time again, every ambitious introvert ends up in situations where they have to act like an extrovert. Take a college professor as an example. Imagine that this professor is shy and reserved, but also wants to fill her students with enthusiasm. Even if she has an introverted temperament, this does not prevent her from switching into extrovert mode. By reflecting upon herself and others, she can learn to adapt her manner to various different situations and to flip the extroversion switch at just the right moment. She can thus accomplish her goal and the students in her class are captivated. After completing the mission so important to her – giving a stimulating lecture – the professor switches back into her usual mode of introversion, retreating to a quiet corner of the library to enjoy the lack of social interaction.

Of course, some introverts find it particularly difficult to switch modes. But it has been shown that a number of them, especially when they want to achieve something important, can overcome their introversion for a short period of time and act extroverted.



Key lesson #3: Both introverts and extroverts can maximize their performance through cooperation


Interactions between introverts and extroverts can usually end in misunderstandings. When conflicts arise, extroverts tend to grow hostile and take the offensive, overpowering, or overwhelming the introverts. The typical introvert retreats from an open conflict because he or she finds it unpleasant – which the extrovert more often than not interprets as a lack of interest. It is only when both temperaments open up to one another and try to understand the other’s perspective that they can achieve great results together. Franklin D. Roosevelt, the US president during World War II, was a typical extrovert. He was brash, lively, and cheerful, and loved going to parties, flirting, and staying out late every night. His wife Eleanor, on the other hand, was very introverted; awkward, and shy, she preferred serious conversations and left those same parties as early as possible. Despite these enormous differences, they accomplished incredible things together. Eleanor opened her husband’s eyes to the worrisome fate of children languishing in poverty and of oppressed minorities. When she found out that the black singer Marian Anderson was not allowed to perform in Constitution Hall in 1939, Franklin combined his political power with her social conscience to make sure that Anderson would perform in front of the Lincoln Memorial on Easter Sunday.

These temperaments can complement each other on a smaller scale, too. Every once in a while, an open-minded extrovert also prefers deeper conversation to small talk. And introverts can be inspired by the liveliness of extroverts, welcoming them as a breath of fresh air in their otherwise calm everyday life.



So, in summary, both introverts and extroverts have qualities that can be extremely valuable to the people in their environment. Many introverts are highly sensitive and respond strongly to their environment. Introverts can flip the switch and act like extroverts. Both personalities should be given the space they need to realize their potential.



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