Susan Cain’s 2014 TED Talk | Announcing the Quiet Revolution

Susan Cain Quiet Revolution TED Talk 2014 600wide Susan Cains 2014 TED Talk | Announcing the Quiet Revolution

Image credit: Social psychologist Amy Cuddy

Announcing the Quiet Revolution

Let’s do something fun and unusual for the TED stage. I want you to break into groups of four and have each of you tell a childhood story that reveals whether you’re an introvert or extrovert. Then I’ll ask each group to select the most personal, poignant and private of these stories to share with the audience. And from this collaborative group process, a larger truth will emerge. Just kidding! Really! Just kidding. We’re not going to do that! But how many of you were feeling like, How can I get out of here right now without insulting the speaker? That’s how so many introverts feel about the “team-building” exercises we’re forever obliged to participate in.

I got to spend seven years in splendid solitude writing a book called, “QUIET: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.” When it published, I thought I’d give my TED talk, and then I could go home for seven years and write another book.

But the talk touched a nerve, and thousands of strangers started sharing their own stories of accepting their introversion for the first time. Those stories changed my life course. I’ll tell you about that in a minute. First, some of the stories:

There was a high school junior in Kansas who’d twisted herself into a pretzel trying to be a leader, but was kicked off her school’s prestigious leadership squad because she wasn’t outgoing enough. She was devastated, but told me that the TED talk reminded her what she would’ve preferred to do in the first place, which was science. HER version of leadership? Publishing her first scientific paper at 17. Winning a huge university scholarship. Today she’s a happy freshman majoring in biomedical engineering.

Next, there was an Ivy League president, a Fortune 500 CEO and a Marine Corps general who all confessed that introversion was their secret – and their secret strength. There was a quiet teacher who convinced her entire school to rethink its emphasis on class participation and group projects. There was even a lonely young guy who decided not to commit suicide because he finally realized there was a place for him in this world; today, believe it or not, he’s happy, productive, and in a loving marriage.

Turns out, embracing their quiet nature does not cause introverts to flee to a shack in the woods. It empowers them to engage with the world – but on their own terms.

Ironically, these stories had the same effect on me. I found myself every morning with my laptop, thinking of those souls, and writing not the sentences of my next book, but the blueprint for a Quiet Revolution – and joining forces with a growing army of Quiet Revolutionaries, many of whom are extroverts with quiet colleagues, spouses or children of their own. Together we’ve formed a venture backed, mission-based company whose goal is to empower introverts for the benefit of us all. A third to a half of humanity is introverted – that’s one out of every two or three people you know — so we’re dreaming big.

So here’s a quick look at three of the many projects on our drawing board:

3028117 poster p open office Susan Cains 2014 TED Talk | Announcing the Quiet Revolution

RELATED: Remaking Open Offices So Introverts Don’t Hate Them | Fast Company

First, transforming office architecture. Solitude is a crucial ingredient of innovation and even leadership, and we want to bring it back to the workplace. Two years ago at TED, just after my talk, I met with a lovely guy and self-described introvert named Jim Hackett. Jim at the time was CEO of Steelcase, the company who helped design the beautiful TED main stage, and for years, he told me, he’d been concerned about the erosion of focus and privacy in modern offices. I’d been speaking out pretty vocally about the same problem. So fast forward two years, we’ve formed a partnership with Steelcase to create quiet oases of focus and respite for open plan offices, so that workers can move freely between social and private spaces.

3P cadets and Susan Cain e1395524241180 Susan Cains 2014 TED Talk | Announcing the Quiet Revolution

RELATED: Must All Leaders Be Gregarious? | NYTimes.com

Second, helping companies train the next generation of quiet leaders. Many of the world’s great leaders are introverts – we have some of them in this audience, from Bill Gates to General McChrystal. We’re creating a Quiet Leadership Institute to train introverts to lead, communicate, and connect, by drawing on their natural strengths instead of asking them to turn into extroverts. For the last two years, thanks to TED I’ve had an unlikely career as a public speaker, and I’ve been giving talks to every conceivable type of organization. And you know who I’ve found gets the power of quiet leaders better than anyone? The military — where leadership is a matter of life and death, and everyone knows that many great leaders are introverts. So I’m excited and honored to announce that the Quiet Leadership Institute will be led by an exceptional guy named Mike Erwin – a decorated veteran, two time Bronze Star winner, West Point professor of leadership and positive psychology, and a fierce Quiet Revolutionary.

hands raising e1395524521639 Susan Cains 2014 TED Talk | Announcing the Quiet Revolution

RELATED: Help Shy Kids — Don’t Punish Them | The Atlantic

Third, empowering quiet children. The most poignant letters I get, the ones that haunt me, come from children who are hurting because the well-meaning adults in their lives ask them why can’t you be a little more like your outgoing sister, and they know they can’t be, never will be. And the letters come from moms and dads who are hurting because they hear repeatedly at parent teacher conferences that their child is pretty great, but would be so much better, if only he were that precious thing: talkative in class. Hundreds of schools, thousands of parents, have reached out to us, clamoring for change. So in the next year we’ll be forming partnerships with schools to develop tools for parents and educators to cultivate their quiet children. Stay tuned on that.

One final story: There once was a boy so quiet and shy, he used to run home from school when the bell rang, to avoid socializing with his classmates. Like many shy people, this boy sided instinctively with the oppressed. As he grew older, he learned to speak out on their behalf — but remained a shy and quiet man, believing that these traits were his source of spiritual strength. The boy’s name was Mohandas Gandhi, and he later uttered, for me, the most important sentence in history:

unnamed 1 Susan Cains 2014 TED Talk | Announcing the Quiet Revolution

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
Photo Credit: Moira Melton

So, whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, I invite you to join our Quiet Revolution – and to consider that empowering the introverted half of the population will benefit us all. But most of all, I invite you to go out and shake the world gently.

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62 Responses to “Susan Cain’s 2014 TED Talk | Announcing the Quiet Revolution”

  • Amy:

    I am so thankful for all that you are doing for introverts! In my profession as a speech pathologist, it is sometimes hard to embrace being an introvert at times. I really like what you said about seeing introversion as a source of strengths.

  • Rose Perlmutter:

    I’m on board, Susan. My roles these days include grandparent, educational consultant, writer, nature lover, and person who has learned to say “No thank you” to folks who want me to do what I don’t want to do. Friends and family will always be very dear to me, but thanks to you and your words, they accept me as I am now. My life is nourished by those early morning hours when I sit with my coffee, jot my notes, and do my best quiet thinking. I hope I can empower others to embrace their quiet time too.

  • Lily:

    I really appreciate what you are doing. I am an extrovert surrounded by my precious introvert’s, nearly everyone in my life is an introvert. My husband is an ambivert, leaning more to introvert, my daughter, her husband, my best friend, (just to name a few), are all introverts and my life is made richer because of them!

    Btw, this extrovert HATES group projects. I hated them in school and I hate them in jobs.

  • Larry Kunz:

    Hi, Susan. Thanks for sharing your TED talk and for getting in front of the Quiet Revolution. I liked what you said, and I LOVED the opening about splitting into groups and telling a story. Even reading it at my computer, I wanted to bolt out of the room!

    One suggestion: please be careful not to equate introversion with shyness. I know that you understand the difference, but the “children” left the impression that all we need to do for children is accept their shy behavior. Instead, just as with adult leaders, we need to help children understand their introversion and turn it into a strength.

    Personal story: As a child (and still, as an adult, I guess) I was shy in one-on-one situations but fine in group settings. I didn’t hesitate to speak up in class, but at recess I hung out on the edge of the playground with one or two close friends. All of which is to say: introversion isn’t simply shyness. It takes many forms, in children and in adults. A child who doesn’t speak in class could have any number of things going on — not just introversion. A child who DOES speak in class (like me) might still be introverted, and those kids need to understand how to turn their introversion into a strength.

    I hope this is helpful. Thanks again for your leadership in empowering people to be their best.

  • Kasper Sandal:

    Thank you for what you do, it has been very important for me! In 2012 I moved to the US to study at UCSB, and the gregarious attitude of everybody I met gave me a shock. There was no way to tell nice people from the fake, and returning all this energetic behavior left me exhausted. This was when I remembered your TED-talk and ordered your book. To my luck you visited UCSB soon after, and I even got myself a signed copy. Understanding my needs in an extroverted society made me find my role, and I ended up getting dreadlocks, spending a lot of time playing guitar at the beach, and after 10 months, none of the other exchange students were more “Californian” than me. The point of this story is to tell how my understanding of introversion led me to interact more. Next up I will follow my dream about building offshore wind turbines, and move to Denmark/Germany to do a PhD. You are a true inspiration, and helped me believe in my strengths! Thank you.

  • Rich Day:

    Whether its Gandhi, or Moses, there comes a time of reflection where we look at the world around us as it is and begin to see that all is not as it should be. Gandhi and Moses, the giants we know them to be now, were not giants then, but they looked and saw the suffering around them and the course of their lives changed. Their talents were redefined and empowered by a vision, and then they changed history. For all of us I believe, we all have our role, and it begins with seeing those around us, and then simply asking what we can do about it. Like them, we don’t come to the task as giants, we only bring our hearts and our hands and defy our fears in favor of our love by saying yes!

    A moving speech, Susan. Well done! Thank you!

  • ERNESTO JOSEPH F. GONZALES III:

    Count me in. I am an introvert and I believe in that introverts deserve to be happy and not be discriminated upon. I encourage your leadership and I support it.

  • Paul:

    What follows is a letter from someone I supervised while enlisted in the Air Force. Please excuse the acronyms. This is one of several letters he wrote to former supervisors that had influenced him during his career. At the time, he had been selected for promotion to Master Sergeant, a Senior Non-commisisoned Officer. It’s a pretty big deal in the Air Force as the level of responsibility is much higher than the previous rank. As far as I can remember, he is the only subordinate I ever had who later thanked me for my leadership.

    “Thanks for helping me through my mid-SSgt years…(I’m serious, that should be a thing, like mid-teenager years). I was headstrong and cocky and yet at the same time unsure of certain things. As one of my supervisors who was on the quiet side and not very bossy, it was a different experience, because up until you I had very headstrong and pushy supervisors, very gung-ho and mouthy.
    You taught me that its ok to be quiet sometimes, to sit back, soak things in, learn a bit about the situation, instead of just going straight at a problem. We never got to fly together much, so our technical exchange was limited to discussions in DOM about processes and not so much work on the ops floor or on the jet.
    I just wanted to let you know, I appreciate the counter point to what I had been exposed to my whole career. I’m not saying i’m some kind of zen master, or anything like that now. However, i have toned down the attitude and anger a tad…it has been tempered in 2 op and AMS fire and learning some techniques from you, certainly helped out.
    So thank you sir, it was an honor serving with you, I hope our paths cross again.”

  • Jason Cheung:

    Hi Susan,

    I just wanted to say thank you for your continuing efforts on empowering introverts and making a difference in so many lives.

    Ever since I saw your first TED talk and saw you in person at the Police Leadership Conference, I finally understand who I am and live with the principles and ideas that you have brought into my life.

    Thank you so much!

  • Curtis Martin:

    Your first paragraph had me so terrified that I almost quit reading. I felt so bad for your audience. LOL. I was so relieved when you said, “Just Kidding.”

    This revolution is so long overdue. Thanks for taking this on. Our daughter was one of those who never spoke up in class, and always got marked down on her report cards for “Not participating in class.” Nevertheless, she earned straigh As all through school and recently graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Bio-Mechanical Engeneering. She is the most awesome person I know.

  • Heet:

    Awesome speech….you’ve truly empowered the people including me. I have read your book and I can totally understand being an introvert myself. Its like you were narrating something I couldn’t understand before. Keep up the good work.

  • Miss H:

    This is wonderful, thank you so much for all the work you’ve put into this quiet revolution.

    I’m a female surgeon, and have spent my entire career (nearly 20 years) being told I don’t conform to the stereotype of a surgeon, being told by aggressive seniors that I’ll never make it, that I’m not emotionally robust enough, and being pushed around by peers who think I’m an easy target. I’ve had lots of personal projects stolen and sabotaged by aggressive colleagues who think I’m fair game. I’ve always known that they were wrong, although I’ve never been able to put my finger on why. I’ve always believed in myself, and although persistent bullying and rejection has hurt my feelings, it hasn’t stopped me. I used to tell junior colleagues and medical students that you don’t have to be a stereotype in order to be successful. At the time I hoped it was true. Now, I know it’s true. Now, I’ve quietly stormed ahead of my colleagues in terms of skills, interpersonal relationships, award winning etc. but they still underestimate me. Junior colleagues always give feedback that I’m the best senior they’ve ever had because I supported them and wanted them to succeed. The truth is that I love to do this for junior colleagues. I wish someone had done it for me. But it still isn’t easy. The aggressive, usually male, stereotype surgeons absolutely hate me. They still make up rumours about me, accuse me of awful things with no basis, and sabotage my work. But there is a growing body of people who know that leadership comes from something deeper than standing on a box, pushing others down, and insisting that you are the leader. Leadership comes when people recognise your qualities, and they come to you for support, advice and collaboration, in preference to going to the aggressive people, whom they fear, or perceive as leaders because of the culture. It’s a quiet revolution! Long may it continue to grow.

    Xxx

  • Anita Sanchez:

    I really relate to what you said in your book about introverts often being highly sensitive to the beauties of nature. “Green time” is so crucial for everyone -kids especially-but even more so for introverts. Playgrounds these days have no natural areas where a kid can hide out under a bush or up in a tree (I was always climbing trees as a kid.) Offices need green space outside where introverts can go and sit surrounded by leaves and birdsong on their break. Nursing homes, community centers, hotels-every public place needs more nature around it for introverts to recharge in.

  • Valerii Intro-da:

    This comment is from shy russian hikikomori guy, who once happened to read an article from Marti Laney’s book (it was a first book about introverts, not the Susan’s, sorry)), and it changed his life.
    I made a blog about introversion, and since then i met in internet with some other sincere, soulful introverts, who also wanted to work for the QuietRev.
    We are working on practical guidances, about how to achieve inner wholeness and peace, and how to achieve any goals in outside world, using only the powers of introversion, and not using any simulations of extraversion.
    In youth, extroverts bullied us and called us losers. But now, we use social networks for successful socializing, and, the most magical part, we use dating sites for successful dating. How is it nice, when you actually make sure, that impossible is possible ). It is the magic of the QuietRev, the knowledge of introverted way of successful life. And the path is just begun.

  • carmel:

    Hi Susan,
    Thank you so much for bringing this to the forefront. I consider myself an outgoing introvert. I have always hated and am no good at small talk. I hate feeling awkward because I can’t think of anything to say. My son is a very smart quiet guy, I can see his uncomfortableness in social areas. I applaud you trying to change the school system, I can do my part as I have kids here and will try to enlighten the principal and teachers, BOE, etc. I am sick of a society that says being extroverted is somehow better, I always believed that introverts could be as good or sometimes better leaders, but of course I never said it. So many times I wanted to say things and didn’t because of fear or whatever. Thank you for making it feel ok and that I don’t have to push my kids to be something they’re not. It’s such a relief not to have to make small talk and just say things when I have something to say. I’m good with listening for now and accepting myself. Thank you, Susan!

  • Jane Gribble:

    I read ‘Quiet’ about 18 months ago, and your book changed my life. I have been criticised all my life for being too quiet, had assumptions made about my intelligence based on that, and never understood my desperate need at times to be by myself and regroup. I read you book and cried with relief. And I have now passed it on to several people.
    Thank you for starting this revolution, and helping all of us that are introverts, and members of our families, understand. I will be with you on this journey all the way!

  • Alison Cummings:

    Thanks for sharing this talk, Susan, and for having the courage to start this Quiet Revolution.
    Your book changed my life, as is the case with so many who have commented here. I am now gently spreading your words and ideas whenever I encounter a kindred introvert, or someone who has one in their life and just doesn’t get it. A colleague was telling me about her son one day recently - he read all the time and could remember things and was so incredibly intelligent; but he had hardly any friends and kept to himself, and I could tell it was with a lot of regret that she ended by saying that he “could” (but likely wouldn’t) do anything, have anything, he wanted, lead the world and be so successful… I smiled and asked what his idea of success was? It was like a light turned on for her.
    Thank you.

  • Nancy:

    I got and read your book as soon as it was published and, in reading it, found myself defined and celebrated on nearly every page as the person I truly am. It also led me to get out of all social media distractions as well as television and embrace long periods of nurturing solitude.

    And thank you so much for preparing this TED talk! I enjoyed it tremendously and passed it along to other members of my family.

  • Theresa Wimann:

    I am an introvert who at 55 just lost my husband to cancer. I have found that although I cannot easily talk about losing him, I can write it. I found a grief website where I can participate or retreat to think about the ideas I hear there. Not everyone wants to verbally relive their grief. The most difficult thing I’ve found about grief is that it is a double whammy. When I have to interact with people it is exhausting. When I am grieving and have to interact, I can barely function. I just want to go home and sleep. My mind just shuts down. I wish that more people understood the importance of quiet in being productive.

  • Pratikshya Mishra:

    I am so thankful to you for all the motivating talks… I want to be a part of this revolution…

  • Mark:

    Susan, this is quite inspiring and I want to be a part of the Quiet Revolution!

  • helen martin:

    Dear Susan
    I am an introvert but it is only now as Ive reached 50 that I am fully realising and acknowledging just what qualities I have and how I can bring them to the fore now and really be proud of myself. I was brought up to be told that my quiet introspective nature was ‘faulty’ and abnormal in some way. However I am pleased to say that due to how i was treated i have been aware of this attitude in society and within families some times and have been able to give my children a better starting base for them developing. Embrace all of you who are, the dark and the light and be proud of your individuality. I too will joint this quiet revolution !

  • helen martin:

    Dear Susan
    I am an introvert but it is only now as Ive reached 50 that I am fully realising and acknowledging just what qualities I have and how I can bring them to the fore now and really be proud of myself. I was brought up to be told that my quiet introspective nature was ‘faulty’ and abnormal in some way. However I am pleased to say that due to how i was treated i have been aware of this attitude in society and within families some times and have been able to give my children a better starting base for them developing. Embrace all of you who are, the dark and the light and be proud of your individuality. I too will joit this quiet revolution !

  • Letsiwe Gama- Swaziland:

    Wow Susan, this is awesome, please count me in, on Quiet Revolution!

  • caroline:

    Susan, your book and continued revelations about introversion as a powerful attribute have truly empowered me to finally embrace and appreciate who I really am. I am a flight attendant who loves my career choice but unfortunately spent the last 25 yrs. being pushed to fit the extreme bubbly, over-the-top, entertainer stereotype that dominates my profession. It wasn’t until I started flying the Asian routes and began working with my more reserved Japanese colleagues and serving my “quieter” passengers that I realized that my form of service (quiet, respectful, caring and kindness with reserve) could be just as valid as the more boisterous, super enthusiastic, cheerleader style that many of my co-workers possess. This Quiet Revolution needs to permeate all professions but especially those stereotypical extroverted careers that can benefit from the balance of extroverts and introverts alike. Thank-you!

  • Marcia Donaldson:

    Susan, thank you for starting this Quiet Revolution. You gave voice to what many introverts wanted to see happen. We were tired of being treated like defective humans, who needed to become more extroverted to be considered “normal”. Thanks for igniting the conversation that highlighted introverted strengths and how those strengths have and will continue to influence the world for good.

    Your first TED talk empowered me to start a new business. I now help fellow introverts who are small business owners realize they can be successful without changing who they are. I mentor introverts because I wish someone had told me that I didn’t need to change when I started my first business many years ago. At the time, I read all those popular business books and many where touting strategies that wouldn’t work for introverts. I didn’t know that and when I failed, I thought it was because of me. I now know differently. My part of the Quiet Revolution is to inspire introverts who want to be entrepreneurs, to go for it. They don’t have to become extroverted to be successful. They already have the strengths within them to succeed. Just like Bill Gates and others.

    I’m all in!

  • Lukas:

    I was at a professional development session recently where the speaker opened with: ‘I’m going to take you out of your comfort zone today’. Slight panic. ‘Take off your shoes. I want us all to be on equal footing.’ Feeling uneasy; we’re adults, not children. ‘Now stand up and find someone in the room you don’t know, and share something that you’ve been struggling with in the new [educational] curriculum recently. Then we’ll go around the room and hear some of the common issues.’ Where are the exits? Time for a long bathroom break?

  • angmamangenhinyero:

    Hi Susan.

    First of all, thank you for replying to my post on your FB account awhile back. I thought you’d reply back to my follow up comment but I’m not surprised when you did not. We’re both introverts (“,)

    Your book gave me valuable insights that reinforced my belief and confidence on my quiet self and I never been more proud of who I am (and who we are!).

    Please consider me an ally overseas. I’m a structural engineer who prefers to write his thoughts than to communicate verbally, but please count me in your Quiet revolution!

  • Michelle:

    I love the story about Gandhi. As an introvert, I have struggled with working in highly extroverted environments because I have a strong desire to help others. But yet, I have been subjected to team building exercises and lots of micro-managing which drains me of the energy to help others. I’m still hoping that I can find the place where I can use all my talents and abilities to help the world without being drained by the extrovert driven structures and institutions that value conformity more than creativity.

  • Jane:

    Your book was a revelation to me and I now feel more comfortable about my introverted self and I can feel my confidence growing as a result - being an introvert doesn’t mean inferior. I am so glad the message is getting out there but like some many other good messages they can take years if not decades before all the misconceptions/prejudices are gone. For instance, a few months ago our university course got us all to complete a Myers Briggs test and then split us according to our results into introvert, extrovert groups. Only 20 out of 100 students were introvert according to this test and of the introvert group half were extremely uncomfortable with the verdict and wanted to do the test again. Chatting to people afterwards some people were relieved to be found an extrovert even if it equated to only a ratio of a 51% extroversion 49% introversion. This attitude was prevalent even with the lecturer giving a very positive lecture on introversion. Curious but not unexpected. Keep up your good work Susan and I am happy to be part of the Quiet Revolution.

  • Greg Sedbrook:

    Hi, Maslow did research on “dominance behavior”(he had worked under Harry Harlow- some classic monkey experiments etc.) Found that 5% of both sexes are alphas - we’ve been letting them lead us around by the nose for way too long - the support systems for that are, at this point built into our Language, education, political, social & economic systems (programming to create pecking orders & heirarchies, & other ways we turn our powers & resources over to them) competition systems that keep us fragmented (see the AGAINST EACH OTHER Chapt, in NO CONTEST- the case against competition) other wise check out THE TEENAGE LIBERATION HANDBOOK- how to get a real life & education (shows educational brainwashings) or google John Taylor Gatto’s 7 LESSON SCHOOLTEACHER. johntaylorgatto.com can also google “cultural conditioning” “metacognition” “multiple intelligences” (around the world also) etc.

  • Shakya Jemison:

    Susan
    Was great to get this link via email. I have recommended your book to everybody and especially friends with introverts in their life. I played it for my daughter who after watching told me the reason she hated Geography and switched out of the class was the desk arrangement. She did not have any friends in the class so it was hard to find somewhere to sit. I hope your message gets out there in Australia and can save future children the stress my daughter suffered at school.

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    […] Susan Cain’s Quiet Revolution. It’s about empowering introverts — who make up between one-third and one-half of the […]

  • Curtis Martin:

    Shakya:
    I hated school because there wasn’t any place I could retreat safely to be alone and recharge. Heaven was becoming a library volunteer in the eighth grade instead of PE. Hell was the uber rowdy bus that I had to ride in high school. Everyone thought I was strange because I was so quiet.

    Even at work, I avoid the lunchrooms when they are too crowded. I just feel too uncomfortable with all the chatter. I hate it when people don’t repect the sanctity of my space when I’m trying to read on my lunch hour. Outside auditors are the worst! They just barge in, sit down and start peppering me with questions while I’m trying to relax with a book.

  • Hemal:

    Your book and your TED talks helped me realise my true identity, that solitude can be, and is, a great source of strength, not a weakness. I felt like I was reading my autobiography. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Bring on the revolution!

  • Books and Bengals | Rainbow Hill Meanders:

    […] QUIET by Susan Cain I cannot say enough good things about this book. I’ve been trying most of my life to overcome shyness and the label of being one of those “introverts”. I find this book incredibly inspiring and affirming. It’s a good challenge to common assumptions about the value of different personalities. SPOILER ALERT: They’re all good and all have equal worth. See also http://www.thepowerofintroverts.com/susan-cain-ted-talk-2014-quiet-revolution/comment-page-1/#commen… […]

  • […] Click the banner below to read the full transcript of my 2014 TED Talk! […]

  • Robert:

    Now in my 6th decade, I entered into pronounced introversion shortly after puberty. Not sure why, but can’t deny it. Over many years of wondering what was wrong and why I could not be more outgoing, I grew comfortable in my own skin. Married for 30 years to an assertive extrovert and with one daughter, now 28 who I suspect could be better described as introvert than extrovert, when we are all at home together, each doing their own thing, we make the joke of “basking in each others aura” as being enough to feel the love of family. In my profession as a general dentist, I have been able to shape my business into one that well suits my introversion with a staff that greets patients until I take over with a minute of small talk then an hour or so of nearly silent process, (always being sure my patients are very comfortable), until a procedure is completed. It is not uncommon for patients to doze off during treatment. I am sure that because I am comfortable with my quiet confidence, my patients are comfortable with me. It was a pleasure reading your book, recognizing myself in many of the descriptions you provided.

  • Red Dog:

    Lukas:
    March 30, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    I was at a professional development session recently where the speaker opened with: ‘I’m going to take you out of your comfort zone today’. Slight panic. ‘Take off your shoes. I want us all to be on equal footing.’ Feeling uneasy; we’re adults, not children. ‘Now stand up and find someone in the room you don’t know, and share something that you’ve been struggling with in the new [educational] curriculum recently. Then we’ll go around the room and hear some of the common issues.’ Where are the exits? Time for a long bathroom break?

    This has nothing to do with introversion, and much to do with dominance and emotional manipulation.

    Please tell us how you coped with the situation.

  • Paul Wright:

    Good luck with all you are doing.

    I am an introvert who for many years struggled to get recognition at work simply because I wasn’t out there telling everyone how good I was and what I was achieving.

    The motto of one old boss was that if you tell people how good you are often enough they will believe it even if it is not true. My integrity and personality didn’t allow for that.

    Although my performance is now recognised I still feel that I get left behind in meetings by those who speak but in truth say nothing.

    I have consequently tried to encourage my daughter, who is also an introvert, to come out of her comfort zone and learn to be a better communicator.

    It seems to me that introverts are an easy target for other people to put down in order that they can feel better about themselves. These people have their own issues but it is still difficult not to be affected by their comments.

    Thanks for bringing this into the public domain.

  • Ann Medlock:

    Susan, You’ve caused my whole life to pass before my eyes-and there’s a lot of it-I’m 80. I’m almost finished with Quiet, I’ve watched your TED 2012, and read your TED 2014. Thank you. Just thank you. I test INFJ but only a hair away from E-I learned early to pretend. A Navy brat, I went to 17 schools-that either crushes you or makes you learn how to make friends fast. I kept trying. Guts churning, went out for cheerleader in high school, got 5 votes. Same year ran for student council and beat 4 people on the first ballot. People were telling me something. In college, wanted to be a playwright and got cast instead for the lead in a play. Did it, guts still churning, wanting to be alone, writing. In the work world, I founded an organization that runs on introverts’ abilities-and it’s about courage! I’ve fed my children, paid the bills, lived quietly, writing. I give talks when I must-because I care deeply about the work. Now I’m going to go write a long piece about the joy of finding you and your work-after 8 decades of faking extroversion. It’ll be on Huffington. Soon.

  • Maria:

    I simply love you. Your message should be heard and taken seriously all over the world. It is inspiring and challenging. Thank you for your great work and please keep on talking forever!:-)

  • burned-out medic:

    We should talk less and listen more. Love Susan and love this book.

  • Jim S.:

    @Amy:
    March 29, 2014 at 8:18 am

    I too am a Speech-Language Pathologist and have to put on an extrovert’s mask each day. It absolutely DRAINS ME. I do not want ANY talk or tv after business hours which makes it difficult for me to navigate around my kids and extroverted wife. However, I LOVE engaging with my patients ONE on ONE! I despise group settings and the expectation to share deficits with strangers.

    @Susan Cain: Woman, you are awesome. I’ve read your book and watched both TED Talks. Thank you for being a voice for the introverted masses (yes, we are 51% of the population). People at work think I’m “high strung”, “rude”, “condescending”, “holier than thou”, etc. and why? Because I’m QUIET. It’s bizarre how people judge introverts based on their OWN insecurities. Corner an introvert with layered conversation and people will soon find out we are not rude, snobby, judgmental. We’re just processing the BAZILLION thoughts racing through our head each day. Life is weird. Your voice for our population is redeeming. Thank you.

  • Amanda A:

    I’m a high school senior who chose Quiet as a book for my nonfiction analysis report in my language arts class. When I cracked it open, I never realized how completely it applied to me, or that I would be so absorbed (as I often am by books) that I would finish it in just two days. My friends always joke about me and my best friend, saying that we’re the same person in separate bodies. What’s funny about this, is we both unknowingly chose Quiet for our report! We aren’t even in the same class. I guess I’d just like to say thanks for writing this awesome book (and for the TED talks (which I’ve also seen))!
    See ya!

  • Sophia:

    You have inspired me a lot.
    Through your inspiration, I have tried writing a blog on introversion. Hope you would like it.
    A Secret for Introverts to Reap Equal Rewards as Extroverts at Work (or maybe more)
    http://bit.ly/1eLNEWW

  • FM:

    Dear the Greatest Suzanne Cain;

    I am writing to you today to express my gratitude for the sincere revelations that you have made in sharing your introverted life journey with thousands and probably millions online. I think that this is the first formal correspondence that you have ever received from the Middle East.

    Growing as an introvert, I had always great difficulties making friendships or probably communicating with the other (i.e. extroverts. Quite, optimistic, kind, naive sometimes, a person with extremes, full of creativity, emotions, sensitivity and love, i was never able to communicate with the other the way they wanted. How stupid were advices of people surrounding me urging me to change my personality or adapt? Adaptation equates to following the herd mentality and rather than leading your quite revolution, it asks for being socially hypocrite, double faced, changing my skin and beliefs such to let that other feel comfortable in my presence. What am abominable world.

    Excuse me for jotting down my feelings in a random manner.

    Similar to world cultures, our Arab culture has regularly paid greater attention for those who occupied the forefront, those loud speakers irrespective of what they had to convey. My childhood was very peaceful and quiet. I spent my 30 years of age with one friend. Been to several doctors for help behind my parents back only to find misery and disappointment. I knew i was different, but could not label my difference. Were I paranoid or obsessed ? Avoidant or pessimestic ? I did not knows the answer.

    I knew I was introverted, but interpreted my introversion from the negative aspect of the term; someone whose pessimistic, socially withdrawn and mood-driven.

    i was bullied in high-school. My bullying came from girls !!! that prevented for one or two years from attending physical education classes !!!

    At a later stage, it prevented me from studying the fields I loved in university such as law, hospitality management and other fields.

    I was so depedenant throughout my life as I was the youngest among my brothers and I was given an intense level of care that when I grew up it acted against me. My relationship with my father was so fragile and full of negatives. From one side, he was a dictator in his treatment side, as if I was living with an army general at home and from another side, he wanted us all to be a copy cat of his personality. I led a revolution against such lifestyle, and i think i am on my way to realize my own identity, even at 30 years of age.

    I had another habit, when ever some talks with me I cannot look at his eyes and either look somewhere away or stare at him so rigidly and for so long until he/she feels embarrassed or turns red. I tried many times to change that habit, but its not in my hands. Throughout my life, I went for psychological consulting three times in USA, and two Arab countries.

    I am a human being full of creativity, professionalism, emotions and sensitivity. I always knew that extroverted lifestyle is not mine. I always hated and abominated areas of big crowds like parties, weddings, celebration or anyplace where alot of strangers are around !

    Dear Suzanne, every single trait of introversion applies to me. I am here not to talk about the past but seriously to get to know you on a personal level and sincerely and solidly cooperate to make a revolution in this world.

    Introverts in 150+ countries should start having the same rights, responsibilities and power that extroverts have been enjoying since the BOG BANG starting from:

    1) Education.
    2) Career.
    3) Hobbies.
    4) Interests.
    5) Social Work.
    6) Political representation.
    7) World Recognition.
    8) Legislations around the world.
    9) Their own social media. their own enterprises and free businesses.
    10) Training institutes, academies, universities.
    11) Leaderships roles in corporations, parliaments, ministries etc.

    When prophets, messengers, world inventor, leaders and mentors were introverts, I don’t see that introversion is a guilt, sin, mistake or disease.

    Changing our lifestyle of personality trait , is just like asking God to replace the Sun by the moon ! or asking war leaders to bring peace to earth ! what a farce!

    Sincerely, kindly and frankly i would like to know you more and start establishing for this life long dream. Since we make up 50% of the population inhabiting this planet, we have a great power to lobby and create our destiny.

    Why become the second generation of slaves? Why becomes followers? why become exploited and marginalized. God created us equally and its against the all religions and doctrines to live in silence just because that insignificant other decides to deprive us of our power.

    I am sincerely looking forward to capitalize on our joint background (introversion) and start preparing for a revolution on the (aforementioned 11 categories).

    I am a citizen of the Arabian Gulf, employed, highly educated and studied for some time in the United States, and would love to get closer to you and I hope that you could pay a visit to our part of the world, especially Dubai due to the international nature of such city.

    Just to bring hope to the topic and this great mission, a famous lady figure from my country when she viewed your TED presentation started talking about replacing and wiping out the word “extrovert” from world dictionaries and books and replacing with a true concrete word reflecting our lifestyle. A word that is not discriminating, unfair and pissimistic. A word that does not portray our lifestyle a disease or illness. A word that equates to humanity and God’s sacred creation !!!

    I would like to express my deep apology for the long email and would love to hear from you soon.

    With love, respect and hope.

    F.M.

  • Stephen:

    Susan, your book was such an inspiration to me. As an introverted child, I suffered from very low self-esteem as well as a stutter that made grade school a nightmare (the stutter has thankfully dissipated through adulthood, though it does show up in times of stress or fatigue). As an adult, I’ve had jobs ruined for me due to the noise and stress of these atrocious open-air wall-less offices that companies decided we should all be subjected to, beginning about 10 years ago (all except the senior executives of course who get to keep their private offices!). I once made it known to an executive that I was having trouble concentrating on my work being forced to listen to giggling, loud, extroverted admins in the next pod. His response? “Learn to focus, deal with you your ADD” (I do not have ADD, not that I know of anyway). This was from a man in his 50s who is himself an introvert (from my own observations) and rose the corporate ladder prior to the open-office craze and never had to deal with such a situation in his career.

    I must thank you Susan for going against your own inclinations and getting out there as an advocate for people like me. We all know it can’t be easy for you, but your work is doing so much to bring a voice to those of us who are nearing the breaking point in this awful, extreme extroverted world.

    I look forward to your (our) Quiet Revolution as it gains momentum.

  • Victoria:

    I am specially interested in the work environment.
    We have one of those highly regarded open offices, where I find it impossible to concentrate and people interrupt anyway. We also have “quiet rooms” but not as many as needed, not as easy to get to. How can we follow what goes around in this topic?

  • Lisa Parker:

    I just re-watched your TED talk with an astonishing sense of contentment. Why contentment? Because, as a lifelong “shy extrovert,” this post has truly resonated. I’ve posted a blog reflecting some of my personal experiences and thoughts on Susan’s presentation. Thanks for visiting and taking a look: http://headsupcoach.com/is-shy-extravert-a-contradiction/.

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Quiet: The Book

- Wall Street Journal

Wow!
Bill Gates names "The Power of Introverts" one of his all-time favorite TED Talks.

Best Nonfiction Book of 2012

QUIET has been voted the best nonfiction book of 2012
by Goodreads.com

Manifesto

1. There’s a word for “people who are in their heads too much”: thinkers.

2. Our culture rightly admires risk-takers, but we need our “heed-takers” more than ever.

3. Solitude is a catalyst for innovation.

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