Susan Cain

Susan Cain

Author, QUIET: The Power of Introverts In a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Co-founder: Quiet Revolution & TED talker

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON October 02, 2015

Discussion

Susan Cain
Susan Cain@susancain · Author, speaker and chief revolutionary
I'm an author and speaker, and the New York Times bestselling author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking which has been on the bestseller list for over three years and counting. I'm also the co-founder of Quiet Revolution LLC, a mission-based company that offers parenting and educational services to unlock the power of introverts. Please visit my website at quietrev.com.
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
Hey Susan! Thanks for joining us. What is the biggest misconception people have around introverts?
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
cc'ing myself as a fellow introvert 😄
Susan Cain
Susan Cain@susancain · Author, speaker and chief revolutionary
@eriktorenberg Hi Erik -- I often say that the #1 biggest misconception = thinking introverts are unfriendly or anti-social, when in fact we just like to socialize differently, more intensely, with a smaller group of people. But lately I would add to this answer that people often see introverts as less powerful (because we tend to speak more softly, not enjoy conflict, etc.) when in fact introverts possess a whole suite of powers that have moved the world -- powers of persistence, of concentration, of sensitivity, of ability to think deeply, and so on.
Mircea Pașoi
Mircea Pașoi@mirceap · Co-founder Memo.AI
@susancain In your book you talked about introversion and business leadership, but I'm wondering if you have any specific advice for entrepreneurs. I feel that being an entrepreneur requires a lot of "pretend extroversion" to always be excited about what you're working on and get other people excited (employees, investors, press, etc.) . Any thoughts on how can an introverted entrepreneur thrive?
Susan Cain
Susan Cain@susancain · Author, speaker and chief revolutionary
@mirceap Hi Mircea, as a fellow introverted entrepreneur, I know where you are coming from! I believe that, while sometimes you will have to act outside your comfort zone, it's much better to figure out how to communicate passion and conviction while still being yourself. You don't have to jump around excitedly to let others know how important your mission is -- you just need to FEEL that your mission is important, and say so. If it is coming from an authentic place, people will feel it. It also helps to have an extroverted partner or senior colleague who can do the things you don't like to do, and vice versa. My favorite example of this is Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's introverted CEO, and Sheryl Sandberg, extroverted COO. They are the ultimate yin-yang pair.
Jake Crump
Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
What advice would you give to an introvert in a relationship with an extrovert? Or vice versa?
Susan Cain
Susan Cain@susancain · Author, speaker and chief revolutionary
@jakecrump Hi Jake -- I think it's crucial to celebrate the temperamental differences that you love in your partner -- maybe the introvert loves his extroverted partner's charming ways, maybe the extrovert loves her introvert for keeping him grounded -- and also to talk through the places where your temperamental differences cause the most friction. In my research, I've found that the two biggest conflict areas are: (1) how often to socialize as a couple and (2) styles of handing conflict. Re socializing, I advise negotiating and agreeing in principle how often you are going to go out -- say, once a week, once every two weeks -- whatever you decide, you shouldn't have to re-negotiate it all the time or you will drive each other bonkers! Re conflict, it's important for extroverts to realize that introverts feel aggressed when they come on too strong, and for introverts to know that extroverts often feel unloved when they withdraw or even "go quiet." Hope this helps, Jake!
Bill Woolley
Bill Woolley@woolleybill
@susancain @jakecrump Although an extrovert and I recently amicably discontinued our relationship over extroversion/introversion issues, it was helpful, for the eight months we dated, not only to agree on frequency of social engagements (like Susan suggested), but also how long we'd stay when we went somewhere. About an hour, around two hours ... Thanks for posing your question, Jake, and best wishes in your relationship! Thanks for your response, Susan!
Mircea Pașoi
Mircea Pașoi@mirceap · Co-founder Memo.AI
@susancain In your book you separated the concept of shyness (fear of social disapproval, humiliation) from introversion (preference for environments that are not overstimulating) and talked a lot about how to understand and deal with introversion. I'm wondering if you can recommend any books or tips on how to deal with shyness?
Mircea Pașoi
Mircea Pașoi@mirceap · Co-founder Memo.AI
@susancain I really enjoyed the chapters about the US extroverted ideal and Asian culture (although I'm not Asian, much of it rang true), helping me better understand the culture in the US and how it's different from the Eastern European culture I'm used to. Do you have any tips for introverts that move to the US (vs. growing up here) and are faced with a culture shock?
Bill Woolley
Bill Woolley@woolleybill
@susancain How can introverts distinguish between symptoms of depression and the feelings they have when simply needing to recharge? I spent most of my adult life assuming I was depressed and seeking psychotherapy, but am now realizing (thanks to "Quiet") that I may have just been needing to pull away from people and activities to recharge. Thank you.
Susan Cain
Susan Cain@susancain · Author, speaker and chief revolutionary
@woolleybill Hi Bill! I would start by simply feeling entitled to recharge as much as you need, and actually doing it. Then see if the depression remains, or if it melts away (or at least subsides). If that does happen, then you'll know that you are not inherently depressed but rather overstimulated and undercharged. I hope this helps!
Bill Woolley
Bill Woolley@woolleybill
@susancain @woolleybill Thanks for your reply. Discovering my introversion and having it legitimized by "Quiet" has been a life-changer for me, at the age of 62. I wish that book had been written 45 years earlier, but better late than never!
Mhmd Sb
Mhmd Sb@mhmdsb · Data Entry Specialist
@susancain Hello ,how do you encourage yourself to take risks and be a challenger ? As an introvert ,I hardly take risks and I want to stop being hesitant and face the challenges . Thank you ,have a good day ;)
Susan Cain
Susan Cain@susancain · Author, speaker and chief revolutionary
@mhmdsb Hi Mhmd, hope you are doing well! It's easier to take risks in the service of something or someone you really care about. Professor Brian Little speaks of our "core personal projects" -- the projects and people we place at the center of our lives. What and who are these for you? Once you've identified them, don't even think in terms of risk or not-risk. Just think in terms of how do you accomplish your goals. Every so often you will notice a risk standing in the way of achieving your goal -- and that is the time to gather your courage, knowing it's not easy, and that it's OK and the anxiety and the stomach aches are a natural part of the process. BEST OF LUCK and let me know if this helps!
Mhmd Sb
Mhmd Sb@mhmdsb · Data Entry Specialist
@susancain @mhmdsb It helps for sure! My projects :photographing the poor people in the street ,knowing their issues ,helping them ,making donation campaigns for them . This is quite challenging for me ,you have to have good social and leadership skills which I lacked :( I love helping people !
Susan Cain
Susan Cain@susancain · Author, speaker and chief revolutionary
@mhmdsb I am sure you are amazing at it! Just keep pushing yourself, one person at a time, little by little. It will get easier with time!
Mhmd Sb
Mhmd Sb@mhmdsb · Data Entry Specialist
@susancain @mhmdsb I will do my best ! Hopefully I will get better :) Thank you for replying and for your time !
Neil Thompson
Neil Thompson@neil_i_thompson · Patent agent
@susancain how would you organize workplaces to accommodate introverts and extroverts?
Maria Gosur
Maria Gosur@mariagosur · Graphic/Web Design/Developer
@susancain What inspired you to write Quiet and create the Quiet Revolution? I can only imagine that being difficult to start if you are an introvert yourself and shy away from attention. How did you overcome this challenge to be where you are today in now speaking all over and leading this awesome revolution?
Susan Cain
Susan Cain@susancain · Author, speaker and chief revolutionary
@mariagosur Hi Maria -- yes I remember when Quiet first came out, feeling raw and exposed to the world. But I really did get used to it over time, and learned to focus not on the exposed feeling but rather on the sense of mission that made me write the book in the first place. That's what I tune in to now every single day -- made easier by communicating with people like all of you, who tell me what this movement means to them. But it definitely involves being able to weather a stomach ache or two. :)
Maria Gosur
Maria Gosur@mariagosur · Graphic/Web Design/Developer
@susancain @mariagosur Ah yes, that makes total sense to focus on the mission. Now that I think of it I can recall times myself where that flow has helped me; though I can easily forget this if I get too caught up in the exposure fear I get. Thank you for taking the time to answer my question and everyone else's. I deeply appreciate and value your positive work.
Gaëlle Pasteur
Gaëlle Pasteur@gaellepasteur
@susancain Being a good sales person is often summed up by relationship, assertiveness and repartee, which can be tricky for introverts. How do you think introverts can succeed in a sales career?
Susan Cain
Susan Cain@susancain · Author, speaker and chief revolutionary
@gaellepasteur By following the age-old sales wisdom: "we all have two ears and one mouth and should use them in that proportion." Truly, the best salespeople listen really well and think about --and care -- what their prospects need.
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
What feedback has most surprised you since the book came out?
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
Bonus q: If you were us right now, what would you ask yourself? Alternatively, whats your favorite interview Q?
Melissa Joy Kong
Melissa Joy Kong@melissajoykong · Content, Product Hunt
Your TED Talk has been viewed over 12 million times (https://www.ted.com/talks/susan_...)! How did you prep for that talk? Any recommendations for public speakers on how to tell a memorable story?
Susan Cain
Susan Cain@susancain · Author, speaker and chief revolutionary
@melissajoykong Hi Melissa -- I used to be really scared of public speaking, so I spent the year before my book came out (and the year before giving that TED talk) practicing public speaking in small, manageable, low-stakes settings. Do not begin by giving a TED talk! Or by giving any high-stakes talk. You want to practice over and over with audiences before whom it doesn't matter how much you seem nervous or forget what you were going to say. Little by little, the anxiety subsides and being before an audience comes to feel more and more normal. Re: how to tell a memorable story -- you have to pick the right story -- a story that illustrates your main point, and a story with real emotion to it are usually your best bets. Best of luck Melissa!
Stephen Hawkins
Stephen Hawkins@st_hawk · Marketing Manager – Scandy.co
Thanks for sharing @melissajoykong & @susancain
Andrew Ettinger
Andrew Ettinger@andrewett · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
As a definite extrovert, I sometimes struggle to empathize with introverts. My thoughts are "if you think it, then say it!" I realize the matter is not that simple. How do you advise extroverts better handle situations when an obvious introvert won't share how they really feel?
Tania Hew
Tania Hew@taniahew · Founder @AbengCoINC
@andrewmettinger I'm not an expert on all things introverts, but as an introvert myself who has been on the opposite end of the situation you've described, I would say one thing you could do is be a bit more patient. Instead of pushing for an answer or a reaction "right now", encourage the introvert to get back to you later once s/he has gathered her thoughts. Even more helpful is requesting they send an email/message later with said thoughts.
Bill Woolley
Bill Woolley@woolleybill
@andrewmettinger Thanks very much, Andrew, for being sensitive and caring enough to have even posed that question!
Susan Cain
Susan Cain@susancain · Author, speaker and chief revolutionary
@andrewmettinger Dear Andrew, I empathize with your question; even introverts sometimes feel this way about other introverts! Here are three tips: (1) let the other person know in advance what you'd like to talk about, so they have time to think and prepare; (2) listen with an open heart and full attention, and count to five before jumping in; and (3) as the conversation unfolds, leave openings for them to come to you later, either via email or in person, with additional thoughts. And of course remember that the converse issue is sometimes true of extroverts -- talking too much, listening too little. We all have our stuff to work on :)...I hope this helps!
Niv Dror
Niv Dror@nivo0o0 · VC at Shrug Capital
@susancain hey Susan! Your book helped me learn a lot about myself :) Have you found a particularly good way of communicating that sometimes you need to works a few hours by yourself (without interruption) to be most effective?
Susan Cain
Susan Cain@susancain · Author, speaker and chief revolutionary
@nivo0o0 Yup. Just simply to say so. And if you can point to examples of great work you've gotten done via such a process, all the better.
Jennifer Riddell
Jennifer Riddell@jenlriddell
@Susancain How do introverts exhibit leadership outside the usual tropes of being the loudest, fastest talker, domination, etc. when others are very much subscribed to those models?
Susan Cain
Susan Cain@susancain · Author, speaker and chief revolutionary
@jenlriddell Hi Jennifer, if you look around, you'll see lots of leaders who don't fit the stereotype of being the loud, dominating talker. Jim Collins did a famous study where he looked at the CEOs of the 11 best performing companies, and found that all 11 of them were described by their peers and colleagues as quiet, unassuming, low-key, soft-spoken, even shy. Gandhi was this kind of leader, as was Eleanor Roosevelt. Look around Silicon Valley today and you'll see tons of quiet, low-key leaders, from Larry Page to Bill Gates and beyond...It is very helpful to keep in mind a role model of this kind of leader -- someone who resonates for you personally -- and channel that person inwardly when you feel you need some moral support/inner strength!
stillwondering
stillwondering@labelnolabel · Senior research fellow
@susancain Hi Susan, firstly thanks so much for Quiet - I constantly go back to it and lend it out to students all the time. I know I'm on the extreme end of the introvert scale but I've also been recently diagnosed (I hate using that term as it immediately implies a problem) with Aspergers. I've had years of therapy, medication, etc but am now coming to terms with just accepting how I am. The difficulty is doing that in a world which seems to increasingly value extrovert traits and neurotypical thinking. I'd really like to make a difference, in my workplace for example, so other people don't have to feel as isolated and as much of a failure at life as I have over the years. Do you have any suggestions on how each of us can make a difference?
Layla Tadjpour
Layla Tadjpour@laylatadjpour
@susancain Hi Susan, Do you think introverted women face more obstacles at work or in the society in general due to their gender than introverted men? Does introversion make women even more invisible?
Susan Cain
Susan Cain@susancain · Author, speaker and chief revolutionary
Oh, I am so sorry that you have had to feel this way. I think the best way to make a difference is one person, one student, at a time, which it sounds like you are already doing. If and when you want to go "bigger," you can try blogging about/speaking about your experiences. And I should also mention that at Quiet Revolution we are developing an Ambassadors program. If you'd like to participate, please just go to quietrev.com to sign up for our newsletter, so you can stay up to date when we launch the program. Good luck and I hope you start to feel better (it sounds like you are, which is great). And, may you brighten a thousand other lives. :)