Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.  (2013). Susan Cain. New York, NY: Broadway Books, 352 pp. ISBN: 9780307352156

Review by Jane Emery, Academic Advising Center, York College of Pennsylvania, York, PA


Make sure to take advantage of campus programs, including leadership opportunities. Speak up in class and be an active team member. Participate in co-curricular activities. This advice is shared with college students from the day they arrive on campus. Doing all these things and learning leadership and collaboration skills create a more well- rounded resume and better prepare students for their lives beyond college.

This isn’t bad advice. People need solid interpersonal skills to succeed in most work environments and engagement in campus activities can help new students with their transition to college.  In Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, author Susan Cain, recognizes this but also points out that this constant advice on becoming more social and outgoing often overlooks and even disvalues the more introverted student. That’s significant since one third to one half of people are introverts, including Cain herself. She acknowledges well known people who have made major contributions to society, including Charles Darwin, Bill Gates, and Rosa Parks, in large part because of their introversion.  Creativity is discussed as better cultivated in individual activities and quiet environments than in groups and committees. Chapter 3 is appropriately titled, “When Collaboration Kills Creativity: The Rise of the New Groupthink and the Power of Working Alone” (p. 71).

Introversion and extroversion are defined from a cultural point of view, not a psychological point of view. Cain discusses action as a preference of extroverts versus contemplation as more comfortable to the introvert, not that anyone always uses one or the other all the time. Included in the first chapter is an assessment to help see where one falls on the introvert-extrovert spectrum. Cain discusses Interesting concepts, including discussion of whether introversion-extroversion is something people are born with or learn as they grow. Observation of infants and how they react to new environments may determine their future preference for introversion or extroversion. Introverts often were “high reactive” babies and extroverts, “low reactive” (p. 100). Cain notes that many schools, starting with pre-school, are designed for extroverts and introversion is something to be cured. She explains that shyness is not the same as introversion, but often appears to be the same.  Shy people are frequently afraid to speak up whereas introverts may be reluctant to speak up because of overstimulation and their preference for reflection. The last part of the book includes tips for educators, specifically on ways we can provide environments for students with a preference for introversion, to succeed. This supports NACADA’s core values of Inclusivity and respect.

Culture is discussed in regard to introversion-extroversion. Cain traveled the world and interviewed CEOs, educators, administrators and researchers. She found that eastern cultures tend to place more value on characteristics of introverts, such as quietness, humility and sensitivity. Western cultures seem to value more the characteristics of extroverts, including boldness and verbal skills. She talks about how America has moved from “a Culture of Character to a Culture of Personality” (p. 21). The relational component of NACADA’s core competencies includes the advisor’s ability to communicate in an inclusive and respectful manner with students. Awareness and respect of introversion and extroversion preferences of students are important in advising sessions and programs. Cultural values must always be considered and respected. Cain recommends waiting after asking questions, as “This gives the introverts time to think and encourages reflection” (p. 349).

Quiet is highly recommended and is a helpful resource to academic advisors and educators, as well as, managers and those in relationships of any kind.  It is organized in a way that examines history and big picture to more specific situations and cases, ending with useful tips and resources. Cain incorporates research and data, along with real case scenarios and quotes, including this one by Mahatma Ghandi – “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”



Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.  (2012). Book by Susan Cain. Review by Jane Emery. New York, NY: Broadway Books, 352 pp. ISBN: 9780307352156

NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising. (2017). NACADA core values of academic advising. Retrieved from https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Pillars/CoreValues.aspx

NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising. (2017). NACADA academic advising core competencies model. Retrieved from https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Pillars/CoreCompetencies.aspx

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