This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Quiet: The Power of Introverts" by Susan Cain. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.
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Are you looking for Quiet: The Power of Introverts discussion questions? Do you need exercises that will help you reflect on the book and how to apply the important lessons?
Quiet: The Power of Introverts discussion questions cover topics including personality, work, and motivation. These exercises deal not only with the content of the book, but also how to think about it in your work and life.
Read on for 15 Quiet: The Power of Introverts discussion questions.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts Discussion Questions
A third to a half of Americans are introverts, according to author Susan Cain, but they’re often marginalized. In Quiet, Cain contends that Western society is designed around an “extrovert ideal” that celebrates those who are bold and charismatic. However, unbridled extroversion can lead to disasters, such as the fall of Enron and the 2008 financial crisis. By overvaluing extroverts and treating introverts as misfits, society loses out on introverts’ unique strengths—for instance, they’re highly creative, astute observers, and adept at solving complex problems. Cain argues for a balance in society, school, and work that lets introverts be true to themselves and where the two personality types complement each other. These 15 Quiet: The Power of Introverts discussion questions address Cain’s key messages.
What’s Your Personality Type?
A half to a third of Americans are introverts, according to studies. They tend to be quiet, thoughtful, and prefer less stimulation than extroverts. They also may prefer to work alone, focusing on one task, while extroverts are multitaskers and thrive in busy environments.
- Where do you fall on the introversion-extroversion scale? Which personality traits, preferences, or behaviors make you believe you’re more introverted, more extroverted, or a balance of both?
- What are some strengths you have because of your personality type?
- Can you point to a situation where these strengths benefited you? In what way?
Including Introverts at Work
Many corporate cultures favor extroverts—action-oriented talkers with great presentation styles. Studies have shown that we rate people who talk the most as smarter than those who are quiet. However, ignoring or overlooking input from quiet, thoughtful people can lead to poor decisions.
- Think about your colleagues at work—which do you think are introverts and which are extroverts? Whose voices are listened to most?
- Think of a recent group decision. Were contrary voices heard? How did it turn out?
- The next time a decision is being made, what can you do to help ensure that a full range of views is taken into consideration?
Customize Your Workspace
Many companies have open office floor plans with little or no private space in an effort to encourage collaboration and creativity, although studies show open offices actually reduce productivity. The noise and interruptions common in these settings can create stress. These Quiet: The Power of Introverts discussion questions focus on making workspace suited for your personality.
- In what kind of work environment are you most productive? How does that compare to where you actually work? What is your office design?
- How could you make your current work environment more conducive to your temperament and work style?
- Think about the aspects of your work that require collaboration. Could any of them be handled more effectively with online collaboration? How?
Are You Reward-Sensitive?
Introverts and extroverts differ in how they view potential rewards or benefits they might get from taking certain actions. Extroverts are often reward-sensitive, meaning they’re highly motivated to seek rewards, such as promotions, money, social status, sex, and influence. In contrast, introverts are less sensitive to potential rewards and better at delaying gratification. These Quiet: The Power of Introverts discussion questions let you reflect on your own reward sensitivity.
- Where do you think you fall on the reward-sensitivity spectrum? Why do you say that?
- Have you ever made a risky or off-the-cuff decision you later regretted? What happened?
- Knowing the degree to which you’re reward-sensitive, what steps can you take to ensure that you make good decisions in the future?
What Are Your Restorative Niches?
Even if you’re pursuing a goal important to you, acting out of character for too long takes a lot of energy. To recharge, you need to create “restorative niches,” where you can relax and be yourself. They can be places you go to get away from the pressure or mental breaks such as meditation. If you start acting out of character, these Quiet: The Power of Introverts discussion questions will help you create restorative niches.
- Think of a situation where you had to act in a way that was out of character and stressful for you—for instance, giving a speech or socializing with the boss. What aspects required the most energy and when did you start running out of energy?
- What did you do when your energy began to flag? How much did this action help?
- What are some restorative niches you can build in to help you succeed at a similar event in the future?
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Here's what you'll find in our full Quiet: The Power of Introverts summary:
- How society overvalues extroverts
- Why introverts' overlooked strengths are the key to greater success in work, school, and society
- How extroversion caused the fall of Enron