The Quiet Revolution

Susan Cain’s “Quiet“came out in 2012 and her TED talk about introversion has been viewed more than 8 million times.

So having just finished reading the book, I’m a little late to the party. But it’s one of the few I’m happy to be at!

Susan Cain’s argument is that introverts live in a world designed for extroverts. She says western society fails to value the traits associated with quieter, more reflective types.

And it’s true. We value speaking over listening, flamboyance over reservation and risk taking more than caution.

Cain believes that our schools and workplaces are designed for the loud and commanding and that such individuals often flourish at the expense of the more sensitive and careful-minded.

Of course, as a self-diagnosed introvert, reading “Quiet” brought with it a great sense of validation. As I raced through the book, I re-purposed all of my perceived failings (lack of assertiveness, fear of public speaking, dislike of group conversations) into virtues (talent for listening, social intelligence, capable of intimacy).

Susan Cain doesn’t dislike extroverts. In fact, she is married to one (which may or may not have inspired her to write “Quiet”.)

Instead, her “Quiet revolution” is about reclaiming the traits which have become sidelined in a society obsessed with the limelight and where what she calls the Culture of Character, which emphasised values and morality, has been replaced by the Culture of Personality, which values the ability to entertain.  And even if she herself doesn’t, her message speaks volumes.