Patton's Pick from the PMA Library: "Quiet"

March 2020

"Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking" by Susan Cain

While your travel and activities are likely curtailed in this coronavirus environment, take advantage of the opportunity to catch up on your reading!  If you're looking for recommendations in the professional development genre, Patton will offer a weekly summary of some of the essential and emerging titles in the professional development and leadership space from the PMA Library.

Susan Cain elevates the introverts among us (at least 1/3!) who thrive in solitude but shy away from self promotion, in her fascinating book Quiet. In a thought-provoking examination of this neglected personality type, Cain explains the science behind the introvert and extrovert personality types and makes a compelling case for the value and unique skillset that introverts bring to all types of organizations. She illuminates the flawed focus of our education, business, and social domains as they favor the extroverted, though it is the introvert who brings intelligence, observation, certainty, and leadership skills that aren't fully appreciated. This is a validating read if you find yourself in the introverted camp, and as a noprofit leader, it will certainly give you ideas about utilizing the introverts on your team.  Quiet is a personal favorite and a recommendation from PMA's Penny Hawkins in Episode #3 of The Path Podcast.

Three Takeaways:
  1. Introverts get the short stick. Educators and parents need to appreciate introverts rather than push for the demonstrable successes of extroverts: the biased success of a participation grade, concern over time spent in solitude, etc. Institutions such as the Harvard Business School and figures like Tony Robbins glorify extroversion, and though Western culture glorifies extroversion, advanced East Asian populations have done the opposite and in the last 100 years have surpassed the west in many respects regarding education, business, growth, etc. 

  2. Socialization shouldn't be forcedIntroverts resist highly social settings for alone time, which can be an asset to them, especially when allowed the time to complete work and process information in their own particular way. Large group settings can be hard for introverts, who do not perform socially by choice.  Managers should balance extroverterd and introverted qualities for the sake of the group's progress, and not only set up open workspaces as an example.

  3. Introverts are an asset.  Because introverts are highly sensitive, they process situations and people in a very thorough way. While extroverts make quick decisions, the careful and analytical perspective of the introvert can lead to better results in the decision making process. 

While the extrovert is often lauded for their presence and social skills, which are indeed valuable, sometimes it is important to consider what sorts of skills these personality types can never master. The unsung introvert, while often the quiet leader, the diligent achiever, and the isolated master of skills, is often an asset and resource that has long been overlooked.


Susan Horowitz Cain is an American writer and lecturer, and author of the 2012 non-fiction book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, which argues that modern Western culture misunderstands and undervalues the traits and capabilities of introverted people.