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Wikipedia Summary for Susan Cain

Susan Horowitz Cain (born 1968) 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. In 2015, Cain co-founded Quiet Revolution, a mission-based company with initiatives in the areas of children (parenting and education), lifestyle, and the workplace. Cain's 2016 follow-on book, Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts, focused on introverted children and teens, the book also being directed to their educators and parents.

--Susan Cain
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I'm insatiably curious about human nature. I feel very lucky that as a writer I get to learn so much about it just to do my job right.


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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.


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Extroverts are more likely to take a quick-and-dirty approach to problem-solving, trading accuracy for speed, making increasing numbers of mistakes as they go, and abandoning ship altogether when the problem seems too difficult or frustrating. Introverts think before they act, digest information thoroughly, stay on task longer, give up less easily, and work more accurately. Introverts and extroverts also direct their attention differently: if you leave them to their own devices, the introverts tend to sit around wondering about things, imagining things, recalling events from their past, and making plans for the future. The extroverts are more likely to focus on what's happening around them. It's as if extroverts are seeing "what is" while their introverted peers are asking "what if.


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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.


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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. Depending on which study you consult, one third to one half of Americans are introverts -- in other words, one out of every two or three people you know.


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Don't think of introversion as something that needs to be cured… Spend your free time the way you like, not the way you think you're supposed to.


--Susan Cain
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Love is essential; gregariousness is optional. Cherish your nearest and dearest. Work with colleagues you like and respect. Scan new acquaintances for those who might fall into the former categories or whose company you enjoy for its own sake. And don't worry about socializing with everyone else. Relationships make everyone happier, introverts included, but think quality over quantity.


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Introverts living under the Extroversion 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.


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Most people who have grown up introverted in this very extroverted culture of ours have had painful experiences of feeling like they are out of step with what's expected of them. Parenting can pose unique challenges for introverted parents, who fear that their own painful experiences will be repeated in their children's lives.



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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.



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The secret to life is to put yourself in the right lighting. For some, it's a Broadway spotlight; for others, a lamplit desk. Use your natural powers -- of persistence, concentration, and insight -- to do work you love and work that matters. Solve problems. make art, think deeply.


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Spend your free time the way you like, not the way you think you're supposed to. Stay home on New Year's Eve if that's what makes you happy. Skip the committee meeting. Cross the street to avoid making aimless chitchat with random acquaintances. Read. Cook. Run. Write a story.


--Susan Cain

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