Social media is currently favouring the introvert, the empath, and the highly-sensitive type, so it’s no surprise that bookshelves are becoming populated with literature exploring these trends. ‘Quiet’ is a book about the power of introversion, which challenges the Western expectation of ambition and turns to biological and social studies to provide a hefty backing.
Chances are you’ll pick up this book as an introvert looking for self-validation. But what of the reader who identifies as a gregarious extrovert? According to Cain and the multiple studies she cites, an outgoing, chatty extrovert often has less intelligence and originality than those who opt for peace and solitude.
Cain asserts that a show pony may get the attention but the nerdy brainiac will ultimately inherit the earth. She makes introversion so appealing that I suspect many readers will come away convinced it defined them to a T, relieved that, finally, someone understands them, whether this is true or not.
The audience seems to be the savvy, upper middle class US business person. Many of the discussions focus on the implications of introversion in the workplace and while the book employs examples to back the arguments, I found it too limited in its corporate focus.
Cain only seemed to interview wealthy, successful types, defining them by their job roles and career trajectories. This consistent use of famous and successful figures only serves to alienate those sensitive readers who already feel they aren’t up to scratch. I’d personally have liked some gender-based discussion – a large portion of CEO’s and interviewees were male – with more focus on relationship interplay or motherhood to potentially expand the dialogue further.
‘Quiet’ might have lost me quickly and this would have been a shame considering the more personal, human element which evolves in the final third. It was here I identified why I felt so uncomfortable at school and why I had to use excessive force when dragging myself to nightclubs ten years ago. According to Cain, the key is finding your ‘sweet spot’, that precarious balance that meets your need for alone time with your desire to be with others and get the job done.
‘Quiet’ outlines what it means to be born with an introverted temperament. It certainly allowed me to understand myself better but, for those seeking information outside of the work arena, you’d best not rely on this book alone.