Derek Sivers

Quiet - by Susan Cain

Quiet - by Susan Cain

ISBN: 0307352145
Date read: 2012-09-22
How strongly I recommend it: 9/10
(See my list of 320+ books, for more.)

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

Any introvert should like this book. Wonderful info and insights about introversion. It'll help you defend your preference for low-stimulus environments. Since reading it, I feel better about insisting on my quiet/alone time.

my notes

You're told that you're "in your head too much." There's another word for such people: thinkers.

Introversion is a preference for environments that are not overstimulating.

Finland is a famously introverted nation. Finnish joke: How can you tell if a Finn likes you? He's staring at your shoes instead of his own.

In the Culture of Character, the ideal self was serious, disciplined, and honorable. What counted was not so much the impression one made in public as how one behaved in private. But when they embraced the Culture of Personality, Americans started to focus on how others perceived them. They became captivated by people who were bold and entertaining. The social role demanded of all in the new Culture of Personality was that of a performer.

Extroversion is less prevalent in Asia and Africa than in Europe and America, whose populations descend largely from the migrants of the world. World travelers were more extroverted than those who stayed home. Americans found themselves working no longer with neighbors but with strangers. Facing the question of how to make a good impression on people to whom they had no civic or family ties.

He worked a summer job in China. He was struck by how different the social norms were, and how much more comfortable he felt. In China there was more emphasis on listening, on asking questions rather than holding forth, on putting others' needs first. In the United States, he feels, conversation is about how effective you are at turning your experiences into stories, whereas a Chinese person might be concerned with taking up too much of the other person's time with inconsequential information.

Peter Drucker: the most effective leaders had little or no charisma and little use either for the term or what it signifies.

Most leading in a corporation is done in small meetings and it's done at a distance, through written and video communications.

One of the finest leaders: This man lost focus when he interacted too much with people, so he carved out time for thinking and recharging.

Extroverted leaders enhance group performance when employees are passive, but that introverted leaders are more effective with proactive employees.

Introverts are more likely to say that they can express the "real me" online.

It's always been private occasions that make me feel connected to the joys and sorrows of the world, often in the form of communion with writers and musicians I'll never meet in person.

Unity between writer and reader "that fruitful miracle of a communication in the midst of solitude."

WHEN COLLABORATION KILLS CREATIVITY The Rise of the New Groupthink and the Power of Working Alone

"I am a horse for a single harness, not cut out for tandem or teamwork, for well I know that in order to attain any definite goal, it is imperative that one person do the thinking and the commanding." -ALBERT EINSTEIN

Consider what Wozniak did right after the meeting in Menlo Park. Did he huddle with fellow club members to work on computer design? No. Did he seek out a big, open office space full of cheerful pandemonium in which ideas would cross-pollinate? No. When you read his account of his work process on that first PC, the most striking thing is that he was always by himself.

Work alone. You're going to be best able to design revolutionary products and features if you're working on your own.

Teach our kids to work independently.

Some people wish to fit harmoniously into the group, and others to be independent of it. Often the most highly creative people are in the latter category.

Open source attracts introverts.

It's only when you're alone that you can engage in Deliberate Practice,

Exceptionally creative people in the arts, sciences, business, and government, many of his subjects were on the social margins during adolescence, partly because intense curiosity or focused interest seems odd to their peers.

Kafka: "You once said that you would like to sit beside me while I write. Listen, in that case I could not write at all. For writing means revealing oneself to excess; that utmost of self-revelation and surrender, in which a human being, when involved with others, would feel he was losing himself, and from which, therefore, he will always shrink as long as he is in his right mind. That is why one can never be alone enough when one writes, why there can never be enough silence around one when one writes, why even night is not night enough."

Groups brainstorming electronically, when properly managed, not only do better than individuals, research shows; the larger the group, the better it performs.

Participating in an online working group is a form of solitude all its own.

Population density is correlated with innovation; despite the advantages of quiet walks in the woods, people in crowded cities benefit from the web of interactions that urban life offers.

Four-month-olds who thrashed their arms like punk rockers did so not because they were extroverts in the making, but because their little bodies reacted strongly-they were "high-reactive"-to new sights, sounds, and smells. The quiet infants were silent not because they were future introverts-just the opposite-but because they had nervous systems that were unmoved by novelty.

High-reactive children pay what one psychologist calls "alert attention" to people and things. They literally use more eye movements than others to compare choices before making a decision. It's as if they process more deeply-sometimes consciously, sometimes not-the information they take in about the world.

Many high-reactives become writers or pick other intellectual vocations where you're in charge: you close the door, pull down the shades and do your work. You're protected from encountering unexpected things.

People who inherit certain traits tend to seek out life experiences that reinforce those characteristics. The most low-reactive kids, for example, court danger from the time they're toddlers, so that by the time they grow up they don't bat an eye at grown-up-sized risks.

Scientists conditioned a rat to associate a certain sound with an electrical shock. Then they played that sound over and over again without administering the shock, until the rats lost their fear. But it turned out that this "unlearning" was not as complete as the scientists first thought. When they severed the neural connections between the rats' cortex and amygdala, the rats became afraid of the sound again. This was because the fear conditioning had been suppressed by the activity of the cortex, but was still present in the amygdala. In humans with unwarranted fears, like batophobia, or fear of heights, the same thing happens. Repeated trips to the top of the Empire State Building seem to extinguish the fear, but it may come roaring back during times of stress.

Organize your life in terms of optimal levels of arousal.

Set up your work, your hobbies, and your social life so that you spend as much time inside your sweet spot as possible.

Introverts function better than extroverts when sleep deprived.

Functional, moderate guilt may promote future altruism, personal responsibility, adaptive behavior in school, and harmonious, competent, and prosocial relationships with parents, teachers, and friends.

High-reactive introverts sweat more.

When someone offers you a beer, "they're really saying hi, have a glass of extroversion."

Nomads who inherited the form of a particular gene linked to extroversion (specifically, to novelty-seeking) are better nourished than those without this version of the gene. But in settled populations, people with this same gene form have poorer nutrition. The same traits that make a nomad fierce enough to hunt and to defend livestock against raiders may hinder more sedentary activities like farming, selling goods at the market, or focusing at school.

Sensitive people tend to speak softly because that's how they prefer others to communicate with them.

WHY DID WALL STREET CRASH AND WARREN BUFFETT PROSPER? How Introverts and Extroverts Think (and Process Dopamine) Differently

Extroverted clients are more likely to be highly reward-sensitive, while the introverts are more likely to pay attention to warning signals. They're more successful at regulating their feelings of desire or excitement.

Introverts are much better at making a plan, staying with a plan, being very disciplined.

Extroverts are characterized by their tendency to seek rewards, from top dog status to sexual highs to cold cash. They've been found to have greater economic, political, and hedonistic ambitions than introverts; even their sociability is a function of reward-sensitivity, according to this view-extroverts socialize because human connection is inherently gratifying. What underlies all this reward-seeking? The key seems to be positive emotion. Extroverts tend to experience more pleasure and excitement than introverts do-emotions that are activated.

in response to the pursuit or capture of some resource that is valued. Excitement builds towards the anticipated capture of that resource. Joy follows its capture.

Of sixty-four traders at an investment bank, the highest-performing traders tended to be emotionally stable introverts. Introverts also seem to be better than extroverts at delaying gratification.

Extroverts are better than introverts at handling information overload. Introverts' reflectiveness uses up a lot of cognitive capacity.

"It's not that I'm so smart," said Einstein, who was a consummate introvert. "It's that I stay with problems longer."

Introverts think before they act, digest information thoroughly, stay on task longer, give up less easily, and work more accurately.

If you are reward-oriented:
1. When I get something I want, I feel excited and energized.
2. When I want something, I usually go all out to get it.
3. When I see an opportunity for something I like, I get excited right away.
4. When good things happen to me, it affects me strongly.
5. I have very few fears compared to my friends.

In a state of flow, you're neither bored nor anxious, and you don't question your own adequacy.

Flow often occurs in conditions in which people become independent of the social environment to the degree that they no longer respond exclusively in terms of its rewards and punishments. To achieve such autonomy, a person has to learn to provide rewards to herself.

There are some activities that are not about approach or avoidance, but about something deeper: the fulfillment that comes from absorption in an activity outside yourself.

Warren Buffett takes pride not only in his track record, but also in following his own "inner scorecard." He divides the world into people who focus on their own instincts and those who follow the herd. "I feel like I'm on my back, and there's the Sistine Chapel, and I'm painting away. I like it when people say, `Gee, that's a pretty good-looking painting.' But it's my painting, and when somebody says, `Why don't you use more red instead of blue?' Good-bye. It's my painting. And I don't care what they sell it for. The painting itself will never be finished. That's one of the great things about it."

Shy and sensitive children are shunned by their peers in Canada but make sought-after playmates in China, where they are also more likely than other children to be considered for leadership roles. Chinese children who are sensitive and reticent are said to be dongshi (understanding), a common term of praise.

"Those who know do not speak. Those who speak do not know." -LAO ZI, The Way of Lao Zi

Individuals in Asia see themselves as part of a greater whole-whether family, corporation, or community-and place tremendous value on harmony within their group. They often subordinate their own desires to the group's interests, accepting their place in its hierarchy. Western culture, by contrast, is organized around the individual. We see ourselves as self-contained units; our destiny is to express ourselves, to follow our bliss, to be free of undue restraint, to achieve the one thing that we, and we alone, were brought into this world to do. We may be gregarious, but we don't submit to group will, or at least we don't like to think we do. We love and respect our parents, but bridle at notions like filial piety, with their implications of subordination and restraint. When we get together with others, we do so as self-contained units having fun with, competing with, standing out from, jockeying for position with, and, yes, loving, other self-contained units.

Westerners value boldness and verbal skill, traits that promote individuality, while Asians prize quiet, humility, and sensitivity, which foster group cohesion. If you live in a collective, then things will go a lot more smoothly if you behave with restraint, even submission.

It's because of relationship honoring, for example, that social anxiety disorder in Japan, known as taijin kyofusho, takes the form not of excessive worry about embarrassing oneself, as it does in the United States, but of embarrassing others.

Hiroshima victims apologized to each other for surviving.

In Asian cultures, there's often a subtle way to get what you want. It's not always aggressive, but it can be very determined and very skillful. In the end, much is achieved because of it. Aggressive power beats you up; soft power wins you over.

Gandhi's passivity was not weakness at all. It meant focusing on an ultimate goal and refusing to divert energy to unnecessary skirmishes along the way.

I have naturally formed the habit of restraining my thoughts. A thoughtless word hardly ever escaped my tongue or pen. Experience has taught me that silence is part of the spiritual discipline of a votary of truth. We find so many people impatient to talk. All this talking can hardly be said to be of any benefit to the world.

Introverts are capable of acting like extroverts for the sake of work they consider important, people they love, or anything they value highly.

I don't really like being the guest at someone else's party, because then I have to be entertaining. But I'll host parties because it puts you at the center of things without actually being a social person.

Pay attention to what you envy. Jealousy is an ugly emotion, but it tells the truth. You mostly envy those who have what you desire.

You can even create a restorative niche during a meeting, by carefully selecting where you sit, and when and how you participate.

Be away from the center. That little bit of physical distance felt more comfortable to me, and let me read the room and comment from a perspective ever so slightly removed.

It's a Free Trait Agreement when you attend your extroverted best friend's wedding shower, engagement celebration, and bachelorette party, but she understands when you skip out on the three days' worth of group activities leading up to the wedding itself.

Introverts like people they meet in friendly contexts; extroverts prefer those they compete with.

Venting doesn't soothe anger; it fuels it. We're best off when we don't allow ourselves to go to our angry place.

People who use Botox, which prevents them from making angry faces, seem to be less anger-prone than those who don't, because the very act of frowning triggers the amygdala to process negative emotions.

Extroverts are sociable because their brains are good at handling competing demands on their attention-which is just what dinner-party conversation involves. In contrast, introverts often feel repelled by social events that force them to attend to many people at once.

A coach: "I'd ask a hundred questions in a row. I could manage the entire conversation just by asking the right questions. I try to tune in to the radio station of the person I'm working with. I pay attention to the energy they exude."

We all write our life stories as if we were novelists, McAdams believes, with beginnings, conflicts, turning points, and endings. And the way we characterize our past setbacks profoundly influences how satisfied we are with our current lives. Unhappy people tend to see setbacks as contaminants that ruined an otherwise good thing ("I was never the same again after my wife left me"), while generative adults see them as blessings in disguise ("The divorce was the most painful thing that ever happened to me, but I'm so much happier with my new wife").