Quiet is the book for introverts, focused on their more subtle, but important, powers in a world that favors extroverted traits. This post features a review, quotes, and resources to provide insight and self-help.

Quiet by Susan Cain held in front of a bookshelf.

Quiet (the book for introverts) is a #1 New York Times bestseller, and it was named one of the best books of the year by People, O: The Oprah MagazineChristian Science MonitorInc.Library Journal, and Kirkus Reviews. In fact, it spent several YEARS on the bestseller list.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking was written by Susan Cain, who graduated from Princeton University and Harvard Law School. She first became interested in studying introversion while struggling with public speaking at Harvard Law School. She left her career in corporate law and consulting, for a quiet life of writing about the power of introverts and how society can misunderstand or mischaracterize them.

Summary & Review of Quiet by Susan Cain

I became interested in Quiet (the book for introverts) when a few introverted bloggers I follow described it as the book that made them feel “seen” for the first time in their lives. As an introvert myself, I knew I had to read it.

Summary of Quiet (The Book for Introverts)

Quiet is divided into four parts. In Part One, “The Extrovert Ideal,” Cain posits that the qualities of extroversion (gregariousness, the alpha type) are deemed to be “ideal characteristics in both work and life, and thus simply being an introvert can be deemed less than ideal.

For example, Harvard Business School, takes action to turn introverts into extroverts by rating performance on things like speaking up in class with performance. And the United States particularly promotes antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs to “cure” introversion.

The “extrovert ideal” became widespread with Dale Carnegie’s popular teachings in How to Win Friends and Influence People, which focused on public speaking and sales skills.

But, Cain believes these American culture norms both misunderstand and undervalue introverts, to all of our detriments. After all, about one-third of us are introverts! This includes notorious leaders, such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, Gandhi, Dr. Seuss, Steve Wozniak, and Einstein.

In Part Two of Quiet, “Your Biology, Your Self?” Cain explores inborn temperament and personality. She argues that humans have “rubber band” personalities, which can stretch beyond our intrinsic traits, but with limitations. She further argues that nothing is lost or gained by being an introvert or an extrovert — rather, it’s about using your intrinsic traits to your benefit, like Warren Buffet, who is an introvert who still became a successful businessman.

In Part 3 of Quiet, “Do All Cultures Have an Extrovert Ideal?” Cain notes that cultures other than American do not emphasize extroverted traits as a measure of success. For example, Gandhi became powerful in quiet ways. The American way can overlook that the right work environment can be more important than a personality trait.

Part 4 of Quiet, “How to Love, How to Work,” Cain helps the reader shift their personality traits situationally, and she explores interactions between extroverts and introverts. Lastly, she helps parents foster, rather than change, introverted traits of their children.

In the Conclusion of Quiet, “Wonderland,” Cain challenges the reader to be true to his or her self, and to seek out environments that suit their introversion, rather than forcing themselves to change. She also challenges managers to tap into the inner strengths of introverts.

Quiet now comes with Extra Libris material, including a reader’s guide and bonus content. 

Review of Quiet (the book for introverts)

Quiet is an important and insightful book that holds more power to me the longer time goes on since reading it.

In the book, Cain heavily cites research in biology, psychology, neuroscience, and evolution, all of which make her argument credible, but also a bit dry. I much prefer relying on her research but actually referring to her arguments and tips in tidbits (like the quotes below).

I have definitely felt overlooked during the times I didn’t exhibit extroversion and, in that way, have felt seen by Quiet and think it’s important for society generally to recognize introversion and extroversion as “different” — but not better or worse.

Most characteristics of introversion I personally already knew: I prefer a glass of wine with close friends to a party. I think for a long time before I speak or act. I enjoy a hygge environment of solitude for both work and play, and I get overwhelmed in crowded, noisy environments. Quiet just help me reinforce the notion that this is introversion and remind myself to tap into this to reach my full potential.

So, what I am getting at is: I think Quiet helps introverts feel seen and extroverts learn something new about those who are different from them. Both of these, at the end of the day, make the world a much better place, and I think that’s why Quiet has captivated so many readers for so many years.

I’m so happy to have these reminders and so grateful Cain is helping society as a whole understand and value us better.

Quotes from Quiet (The Book for Introverts)

Below are my favorite quotes from Quiet separated into three important categories:

  • quotes about introversion, extroversion, and shyness;
  • quotes about the extroversion “ideal” and it’s fallacies; and
  • quotes about the power of introverts and best practice tips

Quotes about Introversion, Extroversion, and Shyness

“Introverts, in contrast, may have strong social skills and enjoy parties and business meetings, but after a while wish they were home in their pajamas. They prefer to devote their social energies to close friends, colleagues, and family. They listen more than they talk, think before they speak, and often feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation. They tend to dislike conflict. Many have a horror of small talk, but enjoy deep discussions.”

“Introverts, in contrast, may have strong social skills and enjoy parties and business meetings, but after a while wish they were home in their pajamas. They prefer to devote their social energies to close friends, colleagues, and family. They listen more than they talk, think before they speak, and often feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation. They tend to dislike conflict. Many have a horror of small talk, but enjoy deep discussions.”

“Introverts feel ‘just right’ with less stimulation, as when they sip wine with a close friend, solve a crossword puzzle, or read a book. Extroverts enjoy the extra bang that comes from activities like meeting new people, skiing slippery slopes, and cranking up the stereo.”

“Introverts recharge their batteries by being alone; extroverts need to recharge when they don’t socialize enough.”

“Shyness is the fear of social disapproval or humiliation, while introversion is a preference for environments that are not overstimulating. Shyness is inherently painful; introversion is not.”

Quotes About The Extroversion “Ideal” and Its Fallacies

“Introversion- along with its cousins sensitivity, seriousness, and shyness is now a second-class personality trait, somewhere between a disappointment and a pathology. Introverts living in the Extrovert Ideal are like women in a man’s world, discounted because of a trait that goes to the core of who they are. Extroversion is an enormously appealing personality style, but we’ve turned it into an oppressive standard to which most of us feel we must conform.”

“The Extrovert Ideal has been documented in many studies, though this research has never been grouped under a single name. Talkative people, for example, are rated as smarter, better-looking, more interesting, and more desirable as friends.”

“As a child you might have overheard your parents apologize for your shyness. Or at school you might have been prodded to come ‘out of your shell’ — that noxious expression which fails to appreciate that some animals naturally carry shelter everywhere they go, and some humans are just the same.”

“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.”

“The pressure to entertain, to sell ourselves, and never to be visibly anxious keeps ratcheting up.”

“I worry that there are people who are put in positions of authority because they’re good talkers, but they don’t have good ideas. It’s so easy to confuse schmoozing ability with talent. Someone seems like a good presenter, easy to get along with, and those traits are rewarded. Well, why is that? They’re valuable traits, but we put too much of a premium on presenting and not enough on substance and critical thinking.”

“There’s zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas.”

“Some of the world’s most talented people are introverts. Without them we wouldn’t have the Apple computer, the theory of relativity or Van Gogh’s sunflowers.”

Quotes about the Power of Introverts and Best Practice Tips

“Don’t think of introversion as something that needs to be cured.”

“Don’t mistake assertiveness or eloquence for good ideas.”

“The secret to life is to put yourself in the right lighting. For some, it’s a Broadway spotlight; for others, a lamplit desk.”

“We often marvel at how introverted, geeky, kid ‘blossom’ into secure and happy adults. We liken it to a metamorphosis. However, maybe it’s not the children who change but their environments. As adults they get to select the careers, spouses, and social circles that suit them. They don’t have to live in whatever culture they’er plunked into.”

“The same person who would never raise his hand in a lecture hall of two hundred people might blog to two thousand, or two million, without thinking twice. The same person who finds it difficult to introduce himself to strangers might establish a persence online and then extend these relationships into the real world.”

“Introverts need to trust their gut and share their ideas as powerfully as they can. This does not mean aping extroverts; ideas can be shared quietly, they can be communicated in writing, they can be packaged into highly produced lectures, they can be advanced by allies. The trick for introverts is to honor their own styles instead of allowing themselves to be swept up by prevailing norms.”

“Anyone can be a great negotiator, I told them, and in fact it often pays to be quiet and gracious, to listen more than talk, and to have an instinct for harmony rather than conflict. With this style, you can take aggressive positions without inflaming your counterpart’s ego. And by listening, you can learn what’s truly motivating the person you’re negotiating with and come up with creative solutions that satisfy both parties.”

“Use your natural powers—of persistence, concentration, insight, and sensitivity—to do work you love and work that matters. Solve problems, make art, think deeply.”

“Spend your free time the way you like, not the way you think you’re supposed to.”

“Love is essential; gregariousness is optional.”

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”

“So the next time you see a person with a composed face and a soft voice, remember that inside her mind she might be solving an equation, composing a sonnet, designing a hat. She might, that is, be deploying the powers of quiet.”

More Resources

For more, check out author Susan Cain’s website “The Quiet Revolution,” which contains:


I hope this summary and review, as well as these quotes and resources from Quiet (the book for introverts) helped you either tap into your own greatest potential and/or find someone else’s.

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