Susan Cain | Quiet Power (Episode 570)

Susan Cain | Quiet Revolution (Episode 570)

Susan Cain | Quiet Revolution (Episode 570)

Susan Cain (@susancain) of Quiet Revolution tells us why being introverted is not a disadvantage — nor is it an excuse for shying away from social situations on one’s own terms.

The Cheat Sheet:

  • How “quiet” came to be a pejorative term as the west urbanized and placed more value on personality (extroversion) over character (introversion).
  • Better ways to understand our introverted friends (or selves).
  • Action steps for introverts to become more social.
  • Why being an introvert might actually be an advantage — in social situations, negotiation, and creative pursuits.
  • Why brainstorming doesn’t work and is mostly a social exercise vs. a creative one.
  • And so much more…


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If you’re not one yourself, chances are pretty good you know more than a few introverts. In a world that seems to reward extroverts at the expense of their quieter counterparts, it’s no wonder the introvert feels increasingly out of place — often to the point of feigning extroverted tendencies just to fit in.

But this hasn’t always been the case. Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking and co-author of recently published Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts, explains why modern society works this way, what advantages introverts have over their extroverted peers, and why identifying as an introvert doesn’t have to be the death knell to your social life you might fear. You’re not alone, as you’ll discover in this episode. Enjoy!

More About This Show

If you’re an introvert, you may have noticed that being described as “quiet” by your more extroverted peers isn’t usually meant as a compliment. Those same peers may even mistake your pensive demeanor as an indication that you don’t think much of them, either. And while it’s quite possible (and understandable) you don’t respond well to people who call you names, it’s probable the whole thing’s based on a misunderstanding.

Introversion isn’t uncommon, and up until the 20th century, it wasn’t even an undesirable trait.

“This started about a hundred years ago,” says Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking and co-author of recently published Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts. “All of a sudden, people started moving out of their small towns…into big cities and trying to ingratiate themselves to prospective corporate employers for the first time, and so it suddenly became very important what kind of first impression you could make, how good a salesperson you were, how much charisma you had…we moved from what historians call the culture of character — where people were valued more [for being] a good person inside — to a culture of personality.

“You can read self-help books that were written in the 19th century and they would talk about how you become a person of good character. But then in the 20th century, the self-help books start shifting and it all becomes about how you cultivate charisma and magnetism and dominance and those kinds of qualities.”

So now it’s expected that we develop what might be described as a sales skillset — a go-getting, persuasive attitude that’s applied to every human interaction whether a transaction is taking place or not. But if we choose to connect with people in a quieter fashion, it raises suspicions that we’re shy or aloof — even if the truth is just that we have a different way of being social.

“I think for most people who one would describe as introverts, it’s not about being a hermit so much, but it is about choosing the way you connect with people. I think…everybody — introverts and extroverts — are much better off just thinking of other people in terms of ‘who is the kindred spirit here? Who do I truly want to connect with? Who do I truly have something to share with?’ And let that be the M.O. as opposed to selling someone the gift of my thoughts and ideas.”

Listen to this episode of The Art of Charm in its entirety to learn more about how Jordan learned to cope with his introverted tendencies, how reputational confusion allows us to pass for one personality type when we’re another at heart, what Steve Wozniak has to say about creativity when it becomes too social, the differences between temperament and personality, why Susan — who considers herself an introvert — chose to write much of her book in a cafe among people, why extroverts tend to attain leadership in the public domain while introverts tend to attain leadership in theoretical and aesthetic fields, how to pronounce Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, why deliberate practice is more effective when focused on an individual rather than a group, why extroverts who do well in social situations might lack the ability to make educational deep dives in solitude, why we give wrong answers more often when called upon in groups, what the rubber band theory of personality entails, how introverts and extroverts operate beyond obvious social measures, the difference between shyness and introversion (and how even some extroverts are shy), how much of the population is really introverted, why we need to be careful about labeling ourselves one extreme or the other as an excuse to avoid improving ourselves, and lots more.


If you enjoyed this session with Susan Cain, let her know by clicking on the link below and sending her a quick shout out at Twitter:

Click here to thank Susan Cain at Twitter!

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