Sunday, April 19, 2015

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking -- Susan Cain ------------------- 4 Stars

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking 
has been a book on my list to read for a while.  I've heard quite good things about it, though it's taken a while to get around to checking it out.  What a truly interesting and fascinating read about a subject that effects nearly every person each day.

This book does its best to explain everything there is to do with the idea of introverts, and by association, extroverts.  The premise, as you can probably glean from the title, is about how underrated and actually quite important and powerful introverts are in our society.

In the past few years, I have done a lot to better understand who I am as a person.  I have taken Myers-Briggs test, Predictive Indexes, and other tests to better understand my strengths and weaknesses and needs.  To that end, introversion is an important part in understanding people's personalities.  (Interestingly, I fall pretty much in the middle between extroversion and introversion which they call 'ambivert').  As such, I was really intrigued in this book.  First, it's a really easy ready.  Cain has a great style that is very comfortable and easy to read but is still very informative.  Second, the book covers a ton of ground.  To begin with, I think her introduction framing the importance of better understanding introverts while she argues how much extroverts are valued in our American society is really quite neat.  After, she moves through all kinds of information covering history, psychology, sociology, etc.  Third, the book finishes with some really useful and practical information about how to better approach people and even yourself depending upon the type of personality you have.  Honestly, it's hard to read the book and not walk away with practical, legitimate actions to better improve relationships.  While the book reads like a typical Gladwell text (overarching theme, good anecdotes, nice writing style, etc.), unlike Gladwell, there are actual takeaways that can make a real difference.

It's hard to poke any real holes in the overall book.  It's really a pretty enjoyable read. I guess the reason it did not get 4.5 or 5 stars it that it's still a one note type of book.  Don't get me wrong, the argument about the undervalued nature of introversion is pretty awesome, but it still is a bit slow at times.  Additionally, it's a bit repetitive.  While I think Cain makes some superb arguments to support her viewpoints, I bought in pretty early so a lot of the later chapters just seemed like a lot of icing.

In general, I think this book would be enjoyed by nearly everyone and nearly every person could take away something from it.  If you haven't spent a lot of time looking at or learning more about your own personality or people around you, I think this book could have even more benefit.  When you think about it, finding ways to communicate and have better relationships with people is paramount and this book actually provides a pretty good blueprint both for how to do it and why it's so important to do so. 

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