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Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking / : , (by Susan Cain, 2012) -

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Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking / :    ,     (by Susan Cain, 2012) -

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking / : , (by Susan Cain, 2012) -

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Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking / : , (by Susan Cain, 2012) -
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2012
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Susan Cain
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Kathe Mazur
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upper-intermediate
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Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking / : , :

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: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

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A species in which everyone was General Patton would not succeed, any more than would a race in which everyone was Vincent van Gogh. I prefer to think that the planet needs athletes, philosophers, sex symbols, painters, scientists; it needs the warmhearted, the hardhearted, the coldhearted, and the weakhearted. It needs those who can devote their lives to studying how many droplets of water are secreted by the salivary glands of dogs under which circumstances, and it needs those who can capture the passing impression of cherry blossoms in a fourteen-syllable poem or devote twenty-five pages to the dissection of a small boy_s feelings as he lies in bed in the dark waiting for his mother to kiss him goodnight._ Indeed the presence of outstanding strengths presupposes that energy needed in other areas has been channeled away from them. _ALLEN SHAWN INTRODUCTION The North and South of Temperament Montgomery, Alabama. December 1, 1955. Early evening. A public bus pulls to a stop and a sensibly dressed woman in her forties gets on. She carries herself erectly, despite having spent the day bent over an ironing board in a dingy basement tailor shop at the Montgomery Fair department store. Her feet are swollen, her shoulders ache. She sits in the first row of the Colored section and watches quietly as the bus fills with riders. Until the driver orders her to give her seat to a white passenger. The woman utters a single word that ignites one of the most important civil rights protests of the twentieth century, one word that helps America find its better self. The word is _No._ The driver threatens to have her arrested. _You may do that,_ says Rosa Parks. A police officer arrives. He asks Parks why she won_t move. _Why do you all push us around?_ she answers simply. _I don_t know,_ he says. _But the law is the law, and you_re under arrest._ On the afternoon of her trial and conviction for disorderly conduct, the Montgomery Improvement Association holds a rally for Parks at the Holt Street Baptist Church, in the poorest section of town. Five thousand gather to support Parks_s lonely act of courage. They squeeze inside the church until its pews can hold no more. The rest wait patiently outside, listening through loudspeakers. The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd. _There comes a time that people get tired of being trampled over by the iron feet of oppression,_ he tells them. _There comes a time when people get tired of being pushed out of the glittering sunlight of life_s July and left standing amidst the piercing chill of an Alpine November._ He praises Parks_s bravery and hugs her. She stands silently, her mere presence enough to galvanize the crowd. The association launches a city-wide bus boycott that lasts 381 days. The people trudge miles to work. They carpool with strangers. They change the course of American history. I had always imagined Rosa Parks as a stately woman with a bold temperament, someone who could easily stand up to a busload of glowering passengers. But when she died in 2005 at the age of ninety-two, the flood of obituaries recalled her as soft-spoken, sweet, and small in stature. They said she was _timid and shy_ but had _the courage of a lion._ They were full of phrases like _radical humility_ and _quiet fortitude._ What does it mean to be quiet and have fortitude? these descriptions asked implicitly. How could you be shy and courageous? Parks herself seemed aware of this paradox, calling her autobiography Quiet Strength_a title that challenges us to question our assumptions. Why shouldn_t quiet be strong? And what else can quiet do that we don_t give it credit for? Our lives are shaped as profoundly by personality as by gender or race. And the single most important aspect of personality_the _north and south of temperament,_ as one scientist puts it_is where we fall on the introvert-extrovert spectrum. Our place on this continuum influences our choice of friends and mates, and how we make conversation, resolve differences, and show love. It affects the careers we choose and whether or not we succeed at them. It governs how likely we are to exercise, commit adultery, function well without sleep, learn from our mistakes, place big bets in the stock market, delay gratification, be a good leader, and ask _what if._* It_s reflected in our brain pathways, neurotransmitters, and remote corners of our nervous systems. Today introversion and extroversion are two of the most exhaustively researched subjects in personality psychology, arousing the curiosity of hundreds of scientists. These researchers have made exciting discoveries aided by the latest technology, but they_re part of a long and storied tradition. Poets and philosophers have been thinking about introverts and extroverts since the dawn of recorded time. Both personality types appear in the Bible and in the writings of Greek and Roman physicians, and some evolutionary psychologists say that the history of these types reaches back even farther than that: the animal kingdom also boasts _introverts_ and _extroverts,_ as we_ll see, from fruit flies to pumpkinseed fish to rhesus monkeys. As with other complementary pairings_masculinity and femininity, East and West, liberal and conservative_humanity would be unrecognizable, and vastly diminished, without both personality styles. Take the partnership of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr.: a formidable orator refusing to give up his seat on a segregated bus wouldn_t have had the same effect as a modest woman who_d clearly prefer to keep silent but for the exigencies of the situation. And Parks didn_t have the stuff to thrill a crowd if she_d tried to stand up and announce that she had a dream. But with King_s help, she didn_t have to. Yet today we make room for a remarkably narrow range of personality styles. We_re told that to be great is to be bold, to be happy is to be sociable. We see ourselves as a nation of extroverts_which means that we_ve lost sight of who we really are. Depending on which study you consult, one third to one half of Americans are introverts_in other words, one out of every two or three people you know. (Given that the United States is among the most extroverted of nations, the number must be at least as high in other parts of the world.) If you_re not an introvert yourself, you are surely raising, managing, married to, or coupled with one. If these statistics surprise you, that_s probably because so many people pretend to be extroverts. Closet introverts pass undetected on playgrounds, in high school locker rooms, and in the corridors of corporate America. Some fool even themselves, until some life event_a layoff, an empty nest, an inheritance that frees them to spend time as they like_jolts them into taking stock of their true natures. You have only to raise the subject of this book with your friends and acquaintances to find that the most unlikely people consider themselves introverts. It makes sense that so many introverts hide even from themselves. We live with a value system that I call the Extrovert Ideal_the omnipresent belief that the ideal self is gregarious, alpha, and comfortable in the spotlight. The archetypal extrovert prefers action to contemplation, risk-taking to heed-taking, certainty to doubt. He favors quick decisions, even at the risk of being wrong. She works well in teams and socializes in groups. We like to think that we value individuality, but all too often we admire one type of individual_the kind who_s comfortable _putting himself out there._ Sure, we allow technologically gifted loners who launch companies in garages to have any personality they please, but they are the exceptions, not the rule, and our tolerance extends mainly to those who get fabulously wealthy or hold the promise of doing so. Introversion_along with its cousins sensitivity, seriousness, and shyness_is now a second-class personality trait, somewhere between a disappointment and a pathology. Introverts living under the Extrovert Ideal are like women in a man_s world, discounted because of a trait that goes to the core of who they are. Extroversion is an enormously appealing personality style, but we_ve turned it into an oppressive standard to which most of us feel we must conform. The Extrovert Ideal has been documented in many studies, though this research has never been grouped under a single name. Talkative people, for example, are rated as smarter, better-looking, more interesting, and more desirable as friends. Velocity of speech counts as well as volume: we rank fast talkers as more competent and likable than slow ones. The same dynamics apply in groups, where research shows that the voluble are considered smarter than the reticent_even though there_s zero correlation between the gift of gab and good ideas. Even the word introvert is stigmatized_one informal study, by psychologist Laurie Helgoe, found that introverts described their own physical appearance in vivid language (_green-blue eyes,_ _exotic,_ _high cheekbones_), but when asked to describe generic introverts they drew a bland and distasteful picture (_ungainly,_ _neutral colors,_ _skin problems_). But we make a grave mistake to embrace the Extrovert Ideal so unthinkingly. Some of our greatest ideas, art, and inventions_from the theory of evolution to van Gogh_s sunflowers to the personal computer_came from quiet and cerebral people who knew how to tune in to their inner worlds and the treasures to be found there. Without introverts, the world would be devoid of: the theory of gravity the theory of relativity W. B. Yeats_s _The Second Coming_ Chopin_s nocturnes Proust_s In Search of Lost Time Peter Pan Orwell_s Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm The Cat in the Hat Charlie Brown Schindler_s List, E.T., and Close Encounters of the Third Kind Google Harry Potter* As the science journalist Winifred Gallagher writes: _The glory of the disposition that stops to consider stimuli rather than rushing to engage with them is its long association with intellectual and artistic achievement. Neither E=mc2 nor Paradise Lost was dashed off by a party animal._ Even in less obviously introverted occupations, like finance, politics, and activism, some of the greatest leaps forward were made by introverts. In this book we_ll see how figures like Eleanor Roosevelt, Al Gore, Warren Buffett, Gandhi_and Rosa Parks_achieved what they did not in spite of but because of their introversion. Yet, as Quiet will explore, many of the most important institutions of contemporary life are designed for those who enjoy group projects and high levels of stimulation. As children, our classroom desks are increasingly arranged in pods, the better to foster group learning, and research suggests that the vast majority of teachers believe that the ideal student is an extrovert. We watch TV shows whose protagonists are not the _children next door,_ like the Cindy Bradys and Beaver Cleavers of yesteryear, but rock stars and webcast hostesses with outsized personalities, like Hannah Montana and Carly Shay of iCarly. Even Sid the Science Kid, a PBS-sponsored role model for the preschool set, kicks off each school day by performing dance moves with his pals. (_Check out my moves! I_m a rock star!_) As adults, many of us work for organizations that insist we work in teams, in offices without walls, for supervisors who value _people skills_ above all. To advance our careers, we_re expected to promote ourselves unabashedly. The scientists whose research gets funded often have confident, perhaps overconfident, personalities. The artists whose work adorns the walls of contemporary museums strike impressive poses at gallery openings. The authors whose books get published_once accepted as a reclusive breed_are now vetted by publicists to make sure they_re talk-show ready. (You wouldn_t be reading this book if I hadn_t convinced my publisher that I was enough of a pseudo-extrovert to promote it.) If you_re an introvert, you also know that the bias against quiet can cause deep psychic pain. As a child you might have overheard your parents apologize for your shyness. (_Why can_t you be more like the Kennedy boys?_ the Camelot-besotted parents of one man I interviewed repeatedly asked him.) Or at school you might have been prodded to come _out of your shell__that noxious expression which fails to appreciate that some animals naturally carry shelter everywhere they go, and that some humans are just the same. _All the comments from childhood still ring in my ears, that I was lazy, stupid, slow, boring,_ writes a member of an e-mail list called Introvert Retreat. _By the time I was old enough to figure out that I was simply introverted, it was a part of my being, the assumption that there is something inherently wrong with me. I wish I could find that little vestige of doubt and remove it._ Now that you_re an adult, you might still feel a pang of guilt when you decline a dinner invitation in favor of a good book. Or maybe you like to eat alone in restaurants and could do without the pitying looks from fellow diners. Or you_re told that you_re _in your head too much,_ a phrase that_s often deployed against the quiet and cerebral. Of course, there_s another word for such people: thinkers. I have seen firsthand how difficult it is for introverts to take stock of their own talents, and how powerful it is when finally they do. For more than ten years I trained people of all stripes_corporate lawyers and college students, hedge-fund managers and married couples_in negotiation skills. Of course, we covered the basics: how to prepare for a negotiation, when to make the first offer, and what to do when the other person says _take it or leave it._ But I also helped clients figure out their natural personalities and how to make the most of them. My very first client was a young woman named Laura. She was a Wall Street lawyer, but a quiet and daydreamy one who dreaded the spotlight and disliked aggression. She had managed somehow to make it through the crucible of Harvard Law School_a place where classes are conducted in huge, gladiatorial amphitheaters, and where she once got so nervous that she threw up on the way to class. Now that she was in the real world, she wasn_t sure she could represent her clients as forcefully as they expected. For the first three years on the job, Laura was so junior that she never had to test this premise. But one day the senior lawyer she_d been working with went on vacation, leaving her in charge of an important negotiation. The client was a South American manufacturing company that was about to default on a bank loan and hoped to renegotiate its terms; a syndicate of bankers that owned the endangered loan sat on the other side of the negotiating table. Laura would have preferred to hide under said table, but she was accustomed to fighting such impulses. Gamely but nervously, she took her spot in the lead chair, flanked by her clients: general counsel on one side and senior financial officer on the other. These happened to be Laura_s favorite clients: gracious and soft-spoken, very different from the master-of-the-universe types her firm usually represented. In the past, Laura had taken the general counsel to a Yankees game and the financial officer shopping for a handbag for her sister. But now these cozy outings_just the kind of socializing Laura enjoyed_seemed a world away. Across the table sat nine disgruntled investment bankers in tailored suits and expensive shoes, accompanied by their lawyer, a square-jawed woman with a hearty manner. Clearly not the self-doubting type, this woman launched into an impressive speech on how Laura_s clients would be lucky simply to accept the bankers_ terms. It was, she said, a very magnanimous offer. Everyone waited for Laura to reply, but she couldn_t think of anything to say. So she just sat there. Blinking. All eyes on her. Her clients shifting uneasily in their seats. Her thoughts running in a familiar loop: I_m too quiet for this kind of thing, too unassuming, too cerebral. She imagined the person who would be better equipped to save the day: someone bold, smooth, ready to pound the table. In middle school this person, unlike Laura, would have been called _outgoing,_ the highest accolade her seventh-grade classmates knew, higher even than _pretty,_ for a girl, or _athletic,_ for a guy. Laura promised herself that she only had to make it through the day. Tomorrow she would go look for another career. Then she remembered what I_d told her again and again: she was an introvert, and as such she had unique powers in negotiation_perhaps less obvious but no less formidable. She_d probably prepared more than everyone else. She had a quiet but firm speaking style. She rarely spoke without thinking. Being mild-mannered, she could take strong, even aggressive, positions while coming across as perfectly reasonable. And she tended to ask questions_lots of them_and actually listen to the answers, which, no matter what your personality, is crucial to strong negotiation. So Laura finally started doing what came naturally. _Let_s go back a step. What are your numbers based on?_ she asked. _What if we structured the loan this way, do you think it might work?_ _That way?_ _Some other way?_ At first her questions were tentative. She picked up steam as she went along, posing them more forcefully and making it clear that she_d done her homework and wouldn_t concede the facts. But she also stayed true to her own style, never raising her voice or losing her decorum. Every time the bankers made an assertion that seemed unbudgeable, Laura tried to be constructive. _Are you saying that_s the only way to go? What if we took a different approach?_ Eventually her simple queries shifted the mood in the room, just as the negotiation textbooks say they will. The bankers stopped speechifying and dominance-posing, activities for which Laura felt hopelessly ill-equipped, and they started having an actual conversation. More discussion. Still no agreement. One of the bankers revved up again, throwing his papers down and storming out of the room. Laura ignored this display, mostly because she didn_t know what else to do. Later on someone told her that at that pivotal moment she_d played a good game of something called _negotiation jujitsu_; but she knew that she was just doing what you learn to do naturally as a quiet person in a loudmouth world. Finally the two sides struck a deal. The bankers left the building, Laura_s favorite clients headed for the airport, and Laura went home, curled up with a book, and tried to forget the day_s tensions. But the next morning, the lead lawyer for the bankers_the vigorous woman with the strong jaw_called to offer her a job. _I_ve never seen anyone so nice and so tough at the same time,_ she said. And the day after that, the lead banker called Laura, asking if her law firm would represent his company in the future. _We need someone who can help us put deals together without letting ego get in the way,_ he said. By sticking to her own gentle way of doing things, Laura had reeled in new business for her firm and a job offer for herself. Raising her voice and pounding the table was unnecessary. Today Laura understands that her introversion is an essential part of who she is, and she embraces her reflective nature. The loop inside her head that accused her of being too quiet and unassuming plays much less often. Laura knows that she can hold her own when she needs to. What exactly do I mean when I say that Laura is an introvert? When I started writing this book, the first thing I wanted to find out was precisely how researchers define introversion and extroversion. I knew that in 1921 the influential psychologist Carl Jung had published a bombshell of a book, Psychological Types, popularizing the terms introvert and extrovert as the central building blocks of personality. Introverts are drawn to the inner world of thought and feeling, said Jung, extroverts to the external life of people and activities. Introverts focus on the meaning they make of the events swirling around them; extroverts plunge into the events themselves. Introverts recharge their batteries by being alone; extroverts need to recharge when they don_t socialize enough. If you_ve ever taken a Myers-Briggs personality test, which is based on Jung_s thinking and used by the majority of universities and Fortune 100 companies, then you may already be familiar with these ideas. But what do contemporary researchers have to say? I soon discovered that there is no all-purpose definition of introversion or extroversion; these are not unitary categories, like _curly-haired_ or _sixteen-year-old,_ in which everyone can agree on who qualifies for inclusion. For example, adherents of the Big Five school of personality psychology (which argues that human personality can be boiled down to five primary traits) define introversion not in terms of a rich inner life but as a lack of qualities such as assertiveness and sociability. There are almost as many definitions of introvert and extrovert as there are personality psychologists, who spend a great deal of time arguing over which meaning is most accurate. Some think that Jung_s ideas are outdated; others swear that he_s the only one who got it right. Still, today_s psychologists tend to agree on several important points: for example, that introverts and extroverts differ in the level of outside stimulation that they need to function well. Introverts feel _just right_ with less stimulation, as when they sip wine with a close friend, solve a crossword puzzle, or read a book. Extroverts enjoy the extra bang that comes from activities like meeting new people, skiing slippery slopes, and cranking up the stereo. _Other people are very arousing,_ says the personality psychologist David Winter, explaining why your typical introvert would rather spend her vacation reading on the beach than partying on a cruise ship. _They arouse threat, fear, flight, and love. A hundred people are very stimulating compared to a hundred books or a hundred grains of sand._ Many psychologists would also agree that introverts and extroverts work differently. Extroverts tend to tackle assignments quickly. They make fast (sometimes rash) decisions, and are comfortable multitasking and risk-taking. They enjoy _the thrill of the chase_ for rewards like money and status. Introverts often work more slowly and deliberately. They like to focus on one task at a time and can have mighty powers of concentration. They_re relatively immune to the lures of wealth and fame. Our personalities also shape our social styles. Extroverts are the people who will add life to your dinner party and laugh generously at your jokes. They tend to be assertive, dominant, and in great need of company. Extroverts think out loud and on their feet; they prefer talking to listening, rarely find themselves at a loss for words, and occasionally blurt out things they never meant to say. They_re comfortable with conflict, but not with solitude. Introverts, in contrast, may have strong social skills and enjoy parties and business meetings, but after a while wish they were home in their pajamas. They prefer to devote their social energies to close friends, colleagues, and family. They listen more than they talk, think before they speak, and often feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation. They tend to dislike conflict. Many have a horror of small talk, but enjoy deep discussions. A few things introverts are not: The word introvert is not a synonym for hermit or misanthrope. Introverts can be these things, but most are perfectly friendly. One of the most humane phrases in the English language__Only connect!__was written by the distinctly introverted E. M. Forster in a novel exploring the question of how to achieve _human love at its height._ Nor are introverts necessarily shy. Shyness is the fear of social disapproval or humiliation, while introversion is a preference for environments that are not overstimulating. Shyness is inherently painful; introversion is not. One reason that people confuse the two concepts is that they sometimes overlap (though psychologists debate to what degree). Some psychologists map the two tendencies on vertical and horizontal axes, with the introvert-extrovert spectrum on the horizontal axis, and the anxious-stable spectrum on the vertical. With this model, you end up with four quadrants of personality types: calm extroverts, anxious (or impulsive) extroverts, calm introverts, and anxious introverts. In other words, you can be a shy extrovert, like Barbra Streisand, who has a larger-than-life personality and paralyzing stage fright; or a non-shy introvert, like Bill Gates, who by all accounts keeps to himself but is unfazed by the opinions of others. You can also, of course, be both shy and an introvert: T. S. Eliot was a famously private soul who wrote in _The Waste Land_ that he could _show you fear in a handful of dust._ Many shy people turn inward, partly as a refuge from the socializing that causes them such anxiety. And many introverts are shy, partly as a result of receiving the message that there_s something wrong with their preference for reflection, and partly because their physiologies, as we_ll see, compel them to withdraw from high-stimulation environments. But for all their differences, shyness and introversion have in common something profound. The mental state of a shy extrovert sitting quietly in a business meeting may be very different from that of a calm introvert_the shy person is afraid to speak up, while the introvert is simply overstimulated_but to the outside world, the two appear to be the same. This can give both types insight into how our reverence for alpha status blinds us to things that are good and smart and wise. For very different reasons, shy and introverted people might choose to spend their days in behind-the-scenes pursuits like inventing, or researching, or holding the hands of the gravely ill_or in leadership positions they execute with quiet competence. These are not alpha roles, but the people who play them are role models all the same. If you_re still not sure where you fall on the introvert-extrovert spectrum, you can assess yourself here. Answer each question _true_ or _false,_ choosing the answer that applies to you more often than not.* 1. _______ I prefer one-on-one conversations to group activities. 2. _______ I often prefer to express myself in writing. 3. _______ I enjoy solitude. 4. _______ I seem to care less than my peers about wealth, fame, and status. 5. _______ I dislike small talk, but I enjoy talking in depth about topics that matter to me. 6. _______ People tell me that I_m a good listener. 7. _______ I_m not a big risk-taker. 8. _______ I enjoy work that allows me to _dive in_ with few interruptions. 9. _______ I like to celebrate birthdays on a small scale, with only one or two close friends or family members. 10. _______ People describe me as _soft-spoken_ or _mellow._ 11. _______ I prefer not to show or discuss my work with others until it_s finished. 12. _______ I dislike conflict. 13. _______ I do my best work on my own. 14. _______ I tend to think before I speak. 15. _______ I feel drained after being out and about, even if I_ve enjoyed myself. 16. _______ I often let calls go through to voice mail. 17. _______ If I had to choose, I_d prefer a weekend with absolutely nothing to do to one with too many things scheduled. 18. _______ I don_t enjoy multitasking. 19. _______ I can concentrate easily. 20. _______ In classroom situations, I prefer lectures to seminars. The more often you answered _true,_ the more introverted you probably are. If you found yourself with a roughly equal number of _true_ and _false_ answers, then you may be an ambivert_yes, there really is such a word. But even if you answered every single question as an introvert or extrovert, that doesn_t mean that your behavior is predictable across all circumstances. We can_t say that every introvert is a bookworm or every extrovert wears lampshades at parties any more than we can say that every woman is a natural consensus-builder and every man loves contact sports. As Jung felicitously put it, _There is no such thing as a pure extrovert or a pure introvert. Such a man would be in the lunatic asylum._ This is partly because we are all gloriously complex individuals, but also because there are so many different kinds of introverts and extroverts. Introversion and extroversion interact with our other personality traits and personal histories, producing wildly different kinds of people. So if you_re an artistic American guy whose father wished you_d try out for the football team like your rough-and-tumble brothers, you_ll be a very different kind of introvert from, say, a Finnish businesswoman whose parents were lighthouse keepers. (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.) Many introverts are also _highly sensitive,_ which sounds poetic, but is actually a technical term in psychology. If you are a sensitive sort, then you_re more apt than the average person to feel pleasantly overwhelmed by Beethoven_s _Moonlight Sonata_ or a well-turned phrase or an act of extraordinary kindness. You may be quicker than others to feel sickened by violence and ugliness, and you likely have a very strong conscience. When you were a child you were probably called _shy,_ and to this day feel nervous when you_re being evaluated, for example when giving a speech or on a first date. Later we_ll examine why this seemingly unrelated collection of attributes tends to belong to the same person and why this person is often introverted. (No one knows exactly how many introverts are highly sensitive, but we know that 70 percent of sensitives are introverts, and the other 30 percent tend to report needing a lot of _down time._) All of this complexity means that not everything you read in Quiet will apply to you, even if you consider yourself a true-blue introvert. For one thing, we_ll spend some time talking about shyness and sensitivity, while you might have neither of these traits. That_s OK. Take what applies to you, and use the rest to improve your relationships with others. Having said all this, in Quiet we_ll try not to get too hung up on definitions. Strictly defining terms is vital for researchers whose studies depend on pinpointing exactly where introversion stops and other traits, like shyness, start. But in Quiet we_ll concern ourselves more with the fruit of that research. Today_s psychologists, joined by neuroscientists with their brain-scanning machines, have unearthed illuminating insights that are changing the way we see the world_and ourselves. They are answering questions such as: Why are some people talkative while others measure their words? Why do some people burrow into their work and others organize office birthday parties? Why are some people comfortable wielding authority while others prefer neither to lead nor to be led? Can introverts be leaders? Is our cultural preference for extroversion in the natural order of things, or is it socially determined? From an evolutionary perspective, introversion must have survived as a personality trait for a reason_so what might the reason be? If you_re an introvert, should you devote your energies to activities that come naturally, or should you stretch yourself, as Laura did that day at the negotiation table? The answers might surprise you. If there is only one insight you take away from this book, though, I hope it_s a newfound sense of entitlement to be yourself. I can vouch personally for the life-transforming effects of this outlook. Remember that first client I told you about, the one I called Laura in order to protect her identity? That was a story about me. I was my own first client. * Answer key: exercise: extroverts; commit adultery: extroverts; function well without sleep: introverts; learn from our mistakes: introverts; place big bets: extroverts; delay gratification: introverts; be a good leader: in some cases introverts, in other cases extroverts, depending on the type of leadership called for; ask _what if_: introverts. * Sir Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, W. B. Yeats, Fr?d?ric Chopin, Marcel Proust, J. M. Barrie, George Orwell, Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss), Charles Schulz, Steven Spielberg, Larry Page, J. K. Rowling. * This is an informal quiz, not a scientifically validated personality test. The questions were formulated based on characteristics of introversion often accepted by contemporary researchers. Part One THE EXTROVERT IDEAL 1 THE RISE OF THE _MIGHTY LIKEABLE FELLOW_ How Extroversion Became the Cultural Ideal Strangers_ eyes, keen and critical. Can you meet them proudly_confidently_without fear? _PRINT ADVERTISEMENT FOR WOODBURY_S SOAP, 1922 The date: 1902. The place: Harmony Church, Missouri, a tiny, dot-on-the-map town located on a floodplain a hundred miles from Kansas City. Our young protagonist: a good-natured but insecure high school student named Dale. Skinny, unathletic, and fretful, Dale is the son of a morally upright but perpetually bankrupt pig farmer. He respects his parents but dreads following in their poverty-stricken footsteps. Dale worries about other things, too: thunder and lightning, going to hell, and being tongue-tied at crucial moments. He even fears his wedding day: What if he can_t think of anything to say to his future bride? One day a Chautauqua speaker comes to town. The Chautauqua movement, born in 1873 and based in upstate New York, sends gifted speakers across the country to lecture on literature, science, and religion. Rural Americans prize these presenters for the whiff of glamour they bring from the outside world_and their power to mesmerize an audience. This particular speaker captivates the young Dale with his own rags-to-riches tale: once he_d been a lowly farm boy with a bleak future, but he developed a charismatic speaking style and took the stage at Chautauqua. Dale hangs on his every word. A few years later, Dale is again impressed by the value of public speaking. His family moves to a farm three miles outside of Warrensburg, Missouri, so he can attend college there without paying room and board. Dale observes that the students who win campus speaking contests are seen as leaders, and he resolves to be one of them. He signs up for every contest and rushes home at night to practice. Again and again he loses; Dale is dogged, but not much of an orator. Eventually, though, his efforts begin to pay off. He transforms himself into a speaking champion and campus hero. Other students turn to him for speech lessons; he trains them and they start winning, too. By the time Dale leaves college in 1908, his parents are still poor, but corporate America is booming. Henry Ford is selling Model Ts like griddle cakes, using the slogan _for business and for pleasure._ J.C. Penney, Woolworth, and Sears Roebuck have become household names. Electricity lights up the homes of the middle class; indoor plumbing spares them midnight trips to the outhouse. The new economy calls for a new kind of man_a salesman, a social operator, someone with a ready smile, a masterful handshake, and the ability to get along with colleagues while simultaneously outshining them. Dale joins the swelling ranks of salesmen, heading out on the road with few possessions but his silver tongue. Dale_s last name is Carnegie (Carnagey, actually; he changes the spelling later, likely to evoke Andrew, the great industrialist). After a few grueling years selling beef for Armour and Company, he sets up shop as a public-speaking teacher. Carnegie holds his first class at a YMCA night school on 125th Street in New York City. He asks for the usual two-dollars-per-session salary for night school teachers. The Y_s director, doubting that a public-speaking class will generate much interest, refuses to pay that kind of money. But the class is an overnight sensation, and Carnegie goes on to found the Dale Carnegie Institute, dedicated to helping businessmen root out the very insecurities that had held him back as a young man. In 1913 he publishes his first book, Public Speaking and Influencing Men in Business. _In the days when pianos and bathrooms were luxuries,_ Carnegie writes, _men regarded ability in speaking as a peculiar gift, needed only by the lawyer, clergyman, or statesman. Today we have come to realize that it is the indispensable weapon of those who would forge ahead in the keen competition of business._ Carnegie_s metamorphosis from farmboy to salesman to public-speaking icon is also the story of the rise of the Extrovert Ideal. Carnegie_s journey reflected a cultural evolution that reached a tipping point around the turn of the twentieth century, changing forever who we are and whom we admire, how we act at job interviews and what we look for in an employee, how we court our mates and raise our children. America had shifted from what the influential cultural historian Warren Susman called a Culture of Character to a Culture of Personality_and opened up a Pandora_s Box of personal anxieties from which we would never quite recover. 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. The word personality didn_t exist in English until the eighteenth century, and the idea of _having a good personality_ was not widespread until the twentieth. 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,_ Susman famously wrote. _Every American was to become a performing self._ The rise of industrial America was a major force behind this cultural evolution. The nation quickly developed from an agricultural society of little houses on the prairie to an urbanized, _the business of America is business_ powerhouse. In the country_s early days, most Americans lived like Dale Carnegie_s family, on farms or in small towns, interacting with people they_d known since childhood. But when the twentieth century arrived, a perfect storm of big business, urbanization, and mass immigration blew the population into the cities. In 1790, only 3 percent of Americans lived in cities; in 1840, only 8 percent did; by 1920, more than a third of the country were urbanites. _We cannot all live in cities,_ wrote the news editor Horace Greeley in 1867, _yet nearly all seem determined to do so._ Americans found themselves working no longer with neighbors but with strangers. _Citizens_ morphed into _employees,_ facing the question of how to make a good impression on people to whom they had no civic or family ties. _The reasons why one man gained a promotion or one woman suffered a social snub,_ writes the historian Roland Marchand, _had become less explicable on grounds of long-standing favoritism or old family feuds. In the increasingly anonymous business and social relationships of the age, one might suspect that anything_including a first impression_had made the crucial difference._ Americans responded to these pressures by trying to become salesmen who could sell not only their company_s latest gizmo but also themselves. One of the most powerful lenses through which to view the transformation from Character to Personality is the self-help tradition in which Dale Carnegie played such a prominent role. Self-help books have always loomed large in the American psyche. Many of the earliest conduct guides were religious parables, like The Pilgrim_s Progress, published in 1678, which warned readers to behave with restraint if they wanted to make it into heaven. The advice manuals of the nineteenth century were less religious but still preached the value of a noble character. They featured case studies of historical heroes like Abraham Lincoln, revered not only as a gifted communicator but also as a modest man who did not, as Ralph Waldo Emerson put it, _offend by superiority._ They also celebrated regular people who lived highly moral lives. A popular 1899 manual called Character: The Grandest Thing in the World featured a timid shop girl who gave away her meager earnings to a freezing beggar, then rushed off before anyone could see what she_d done. Her virtue, the reader understood, derived not only from her generosity but also from her wish to remain anonymous. But by 1920, popular self-help guides had changed their focus from inner virtue to outer charm__to know what to say and how to say it,_ as one manual put it. _To create a personality is power,_ advised another. _Try in every way to have a ready command of the manners which make people think _he_s a mighty likeable fellow,_ _ said a third. _That is the beginning of a reputation for personality._ Success magazine and The Saturday Evening Post introduced departments instructing readers on the art of conversation. The same author, Orison Swett Marden, who wrote Character: The Grandest Thing in the World in 1899, produced another popular title in 1921. It was called Masterful Personality. Many of these guides were written for businessmen, but women were also urged to work on a mysterious quality called _fascination._ Coming of age in the 1920s was such a competitive business compared to what their grandmothers had experienced, warned one beauty guide, that they had to be visibly charismatic: _People who pass us on the street can_t know that we_re clever and charming unless we look it._ Such advice_ostensibly meant to improve people_s lives_must have made even reasonably confident people uneasy. Susman counted the words that appeared most frequently in the personality-driven advice manuals of the early twentieth century and compared them to the character guides of the nineteenth century. The earlier guides emphasized attributes that anyone could work on improving, described by words like Citizenship Duty Work Golden deeds Honor Reputation Morals Manners Integrity But the new guides celebrated qualities that were_no matter how easy Dale Carnegie made it sound_trickier to acquire. Either you embodied these qualities or you didn_t: Magnetic Fascinating Stunning Attractive Glowing Dominant Forceful Energetic It was no coincidence that in the 1920s and the 1930s, Americans became obsessed with movie stars. Who better than a matinee idol to model personal magnetism? Americans also received advice on self-presentation_whether they liked it or not_from the advertising industry. While early print ads were straightforward product announcements (_EATON_S HIGHLAND LINEN: THE FRESHEST AND CLEANEST WRITING PAPER_), the new personality-driven ads cast consumers as performers with stage fright from which only the advertiser_s product might rescue them. These ads focused obsessively on the hostile glare of the public spotlight. _ALL AROUND YOU PEOPLE ARE JUDGING YOU SILENTLY,_ warned a 1922 ad for Woodbury_s soap. _CRITICAL EYES ARE SIZING YOU UP RIGHT NOW,_ advised the Williams Shaving Cream company. Madison Avenue spoke directly to the anxieties of male salesmen and middle managers. In one ad for Dr. West_s toothbrushes, a prosperous-looking fellow sat behind a desk, his arm cocked confidently behind his hip, asking whether you_ve _EVER TRIED SELLING YOURSELF TO YOU? A FAVORABLE FIRST IMPRESSION IS THE GREATEST SINGLE FACTOR IN BUSINESS OR SOCIAL SUCCESS._ The Williams Shaving Cream ad featured a slick-haired, mustachioed man urging readers to _LET YOUR FACE REFLECT CONFIDENCE, NOT WORRY! IT_S THE _LOOK_ OF YOU BY WHICH YOU ARE JUDGED MOST OFTEN._ Other ads reminded women that their success in the dating game depended not only on looks but also on personality. In 1921 a Woodbury_s soap ad showed a crestfallen young woman, home alone after a disappointing evening out. She had _longed to be successful, gay, triumphant,_ the text sympathized. But without the help of the right soap, the woman was a social failure. Ten years later, Lux laundry detergent ran a print ad featuring a plaintive letter written to Dorothy Dix, the Dear Abby of her day. _Dear Miss Dix,_ read the letter, _How can I make myself more popular? I am fairly pretty and not a dumbbell, but I am so timid and self-conscious with people. I_m always sure they_re not going to like me._ _Joan G._ Miss Dix_s answer came back clear and firm. If only Joan would use Lux detergent on her lingerie, curtains, and sofa cushions, she would soon gain a _deep, sure, inner conviction of being charming._ This portrayal of courtship as a high-stakes performance reflected the bold new mores of the Culture of Personality. Under the restrictive (in some cases repressive) social codes of the Culture of Character, both genders displayed some reserve when it came to the mating dance. Women who were too loud or made inappropriate eye contact with strangers were considered brazen. Upper-class women had more license to speak than did their lower-class counterparts, and indeed were judged partly on their talent for witty repartee, but even they were advised to display blushes and downcast eyes. They were warned by conduct manuals that _the coldest reserve_ was _more admirable in a woman a man wishe[d] to make his wife than the least approach to undue familiarity._ Men could adopt a quiet demeanor that implied self-possession and a power that didn_t need to flaunt itself. Though shyness per se was unacceptable, reserve was a mark of good breeding. But with the advent of the Culture of Personality, the value of formality began to crumble, for women and men alike. Instead of paying ceremonial calls on women and making serious declarations of intention, men were now expected to launch verbally sophisticated courtships in which they threw women _a line_ of elaborate flirtatiousness. Men who were too quiet around women risked being thought gay; as a popular 1926 sex guide observed, _homosexuals are invariably timid, shy, retiring._ Women, too, were expected to walk a fine line between propriety and boldness. If they responded too shyly to romantic overtures, they were sometimes called _frigid._ The field of psychology also began to grapple with the pressure to project confidence. In the 1920s an influential psychologist named Gordon Allport created a diagnostic test of _Ascendance-Submission_ to measure social dominance. _Our current civilization,_ observed Allport, who was himself shy and reserved, _seems to place a premium upon the aggressive person, the _go-getter._ _ In 1921, Carl Jung noted the newly precarious status of introversion. Jung himself saw introverts as _educators and promoters of culture_ who showed the value of _the interior life which is so painfully wanting in our civilization._ But he acknowledged that their _reserve and apparently groundless embarrassment naturally arouse all the current prejudices against this type._ But nowhere was the need to appear self-assured more apparent than in a new concept in psychology called the inferiority complex. The IC, as it became known in the popular press, was developed in the 1920s by a Viennese psychologist named Alfred Adler to describe feelings of inadequacy and their consequences. _Do you feel insecure?_ inquired the cover of Adler_s best-selling book, Understanding Human Nature. _Are you fainthearted? Are you submissive?_ Adler explained that all infants and small children feel inferior, living as they do in a world of adults and older siblings. In the normal process of growing up they learn to direct these feelings into pursuing their goals. But if things go awry as they mature, they might be saddled with the dreaded IC_a grave liability in an increasingly competitive society. The idea of wrapping their social anxieties in the neat package of a psychological complex appealed to many Americans. The Inferiority Complex became an all-purpose explanation for problems in many areas of life, ranging from love to parenting to career. In 1924, Collier_s ran a story about a woman who was afraid to marry the man she loved for fear that he had an IC and would never amount to anything. Another popular magazine ran an article called _Your Child and That Fashionable Complex,_ explaining to moms what could cause an IC in kids and how to prevent or cure one. Everyone had an IC, it seemed; to some it was, paradoxically enough, a mark of distinction. Lincoln, Napoleon, Teddy Roosevelt, Edison, and Shakespeare_all had suffered from ICs, according to a 1939 Collier_s article. _So,_ concluded the magazine, _if you have a big, husky, in-growing inferiority complex you_re about as lucky as you could hope to be, provided you have the backbone along with it._ Despite the hopeful tone of this piece, child guidance experts of the 1920s set about helping children to develop winning personalities. Until then, these professionals had worried mainly about sexually precocious girls and delinquent boys, but now psychologists, social workers, and doctors focused on the everyday child with the _maladjusted personality__particularly shy children. Shyness could lead to dire outcomes, they warned, from alcoholism to suicide, while an outgoing personality would bring social and financial success. The experts advised parents to socialize their children well and schools to change their emphasis from book-learning to _assisting and guiding the developing personality._ Educators took up this mantle enthusiastically. By 1950 the slogan of the Mid-Century White House Conference on Children and Youth was _A healthy personality for every child._ Well-meaning parents of the midcentury agreed that quiet was unacceptable and gregariousness ideal for both girls and boys. Some discouraged their children from solitary and serious hobbies, like classical music, that could make them unpopular. They sent their kids to school at increasingly young ages, where the main assignment was learning to socialize. Introverted children were often singled out as problem cases (a situation familiar to anyone with an introverted child today). William Whyte_s The Organization Man, a 1956 best-seller, describes how parents and teachers conspired to overhaul the personalities of quiet children. _Johnny wasn_t doing so well at school,_ Whyte recalls a mother telling him. _The teacher explained to me that he was doing fine on his lessons but that his social adjustment was not as good as it might be. He would pick just one or two friends to play with, and sometimes he was happy to remain by himself._ Parents welcomed such interventions, said Whyte. _Save for a few odd parents, most are grateful that the schools work so hard to offset tendencies to introversion and other suburban abnormalities._ Parents caught up in this value system were not unkind, or even obtuse; they were only preparing their kids for the _real world._ When these children grew older and applied to college and later for their first jobs, they faced the same standards of gregariousness. University admissions officers looked not for the most exceptional candidates, but for the most extroverted. Harvard_s provost Paul Buck declared in the late 1940s that Harvard should reject the _sensitive, neurotic_ type and the _intellectually over-stimulated_ in favor of boys of the _healthy extrovert kind._ In 1950, Yale_s president, Alfred Whitney Griswold, declared that the ideal Yalie was not a _beetle-browed, highly specialized intellectual, but a well-rounded man._ Another dean told Whyte that _in screening applications from secondary schools he felt it was only common sense to take into account not only what the college wanted, but what, four years later, corporations_ recruiters would want. _They like a pretty gregarious, active type,_ he said. _So we find that the best man is the one who_s had an 80 or 85 average in school and plenty of extracurricular activity. We see little use for the _brilliant_ introvert._ _ This college dean grasped very well that the model employee of the midcentury_even one whose job rarely involved dealing with the public, like a research scientist in a corporate lab_was not a deep thinker but a hearty extrovert with a salesman_s personality. _Customarily, whenever the word brilliant is used,_ explains Whyte, _it either precedes the word _but_ (e.g., _We are all for brilliance, but __) or is coupled with such words as erratic, eccentric, introvert, screwball, etc._ _These fellows will be having contact with other people in the organization,_ said one 1950s executive about the hapless scientists in his employ, _and it helps if they make a good impression._ The scientist_s job was not only to do the research but also to help sell it, and that required a hail-fellow-well-met demeanor. At IBM, a corporation that embodied the ideal of the company man, the sales force gathered each morning to belt out the company anthem, _Ever Onward,_ and to harmonize on the _Selling IBM_ song, set to the tune of _Singin_ in the Rain._ _Selling IBM,_ it began, _we_re selling IBM. What a glorious feeling, the world is our friend._ The ditty built to a stirring close: _We_re always in trim, we work with a vim. We_re selling, just selling, IBM._ Then they went off to pay their sales calls, proving that the admissions people at Harvard and Yale were probably right: only a certain type of fellow could possibly have been interested in kicking off his mornings this way. The rest of the organization men would have to manage as best they could. And if the history of pharmaceutical consumption is any indication, many buckled under such pressures. In 1955 a drug company named Carter-Wallace released the anti-anxiety drug Miltown, reframing anxiety as the natural product of a society that was both dog-eat-dog and relentlessly social. Miltown was marketed to men and immediately became the fastest-selling pharmaceutical in American history, according to the social historian Andrea Tone. By 1956 one of every twenty Americans had tried it; by 1960 a third of all prescriptions from U.S. doctors were for Miltown or a similar drug called Equanil. _ANXIETY AND TENSION ARE THE COMMONPLACE OF THE AGE,_ read the Equanil ad. The 1960s tranquilizer Serentil followed with an ad campaign even more direct in its appeal to improve social performance. _FOR THE ANXIETY THAT COMES FROM NOT FITTING IN,_ it empathized. Of course, the Extrovert Ideal is not a modern invention. Extroversion is in our DNA_literally, according to some psychologists. The trait has been found to be less prevalent in Asia and Africa than in Europe and America, whose populations descend largely from the migrants of the world. It makes sense, say these researchers, that world travelers were more extroverted than those who stayed home_and that they passed on their traits to their children and their children_s children. _As personality traits are genetically transmitted,_ writes the psychologist Kenneth Olson, _each succeeding wave of emigrants to a new continent would give rise over time to a population of more engaged individuals than reside in the emigrants_ continent of origin._ We can also trace our admiration of extroverts to the Greeks, for whom oratory was an exalted skill, and to the Romans, for whom the worst possible punishment was banishment from the city, with its teeming social life. Similarly, we revere our founding fathers precisely because they were loudmouths on the subject of freedom: Give me liberty or give me death! Even the Christianity of early American religious revivals, dating back to the First Great Awakening of the eighteenth century, depended on the showmanship of ministers who were considered successful if they caused crowds of normally reserved people to weep and shout and generally lose their decorum. _Nothing gives me more pain and distress than to see a minister standing almost motionless, coldly plodding on as a mathematician would calculate the distance of the Moon from the Earth,_ complained a religious newspaper in 1837. As this disdain suggests, early Americans revered action and were suspicious of intellect, associating the life of the mind with the languid, ineffectual European aristocracy they had left behind. The 1828 presidential campaign pitted a former Harvard professor, John Quincy Adams, against Andrew Jackson, a forceful military hero. A Jackson campaign slogan tellingly distinguished the two: _John Quincy Adams who can write / And Andrew Jackson who can fight._ The victor of that campaign? The fighter beat the writer, as the cultural historian Neal Gabler puts it. (John Quincy Adams, incidentally, is considered by political psychologists to be one of the few introverts in presidential history.) But the rise of the Culture of Personality intensified such biases, and applied them not only to political and religious leaders, but also to regular people. And though soap manufacturers may have profited from the new emphasis on charm and charisma, not everyone was pleased with this development. _Respect for individual human personality has with us reached its lowest point,_ observed one intellectual in 1921, _and it is delightfully ironical that no nation is so constantly talking about personality as we are. We actually have schools for _self-expression_ and _self-development,_ although we seem usually to mean the expression and development of the personality of a successful real estate agent._ Another critic bemoaned the slavish attention Americans were starting to pay to entertainers: _It is remarkable how much attention the stage and things pertaining to it are receiving nowadays from the magazines,_ he grumbled. Only twenty years earlier_during the Culture of Character, that is_such topics would have been considered indecorous; now they had become _such a large part of the life of society that it has become a topic of conversation among all classes._ Even T. S. Eliot_s famous 1915 poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock_in which he laments the need to _prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet__seems a cri de coeur about the new demands of self-presentation. While poets of the previous century had wandered lonely as a cloud through the countryside (Wordsworth, in 1802) or repaired in solitude to Walden Pond (Thoreau, in 1845), Eliot_s Prufrock mostly worries about being looked at by _eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase_ and pin you, wriggling, to a wall. Fast-forward nearly a hundred years, and Prufrock_s protest is enshrined in high school syllabi, where it_s dutifully memorized, then quickly forgotten, by teens increasingly skilled at shaping their own online and offline personae. These students inhabit a world in which status, income, and self-esteem depend more than ever on the ability to meet the demands of the Culture of Personality. The pressure to entertain, to sell ourselves, and never to be visibly anxious keeps ratcheting up. The number of Americans who considered themselves shy increased from 40 percent in the 1970s to 50 percent in the 1990s, probably because we measured ourselves against ever higher standards of fearless self-presentation. _Social anxiety disorder__which essentially means pathological shyness_is now thought to afflict nearly one in five of us. The most recent version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV), the psychiatrist_s bible of mental disorders, considers the fear of public speaking to be a pathology_not an annoyance, not a disadvantage, but a disease_if it interferes with the sufferer_s job performance. _It_s not enough,_ one senior manager at Eastman Kodak told the author Daniel Goleman, _to be able to sit at your computer excited about a fantastic regression analysis if you_re squeamish about presenting those results to an executive group._ (Apparently it_s OK to be squeamish about doing a regression analysis if you_re excited about giving speeches.) But perhaps the best way to take the measure of the twenty-first-century Culture of Personality is to return to the self-help arena. Today, a full century after Dale Carnegie launched that first public-speaking workshop at the YMCA, his best-selling book How to Win Friends and Influence People is a staple of airport bookshelves and business best-seller lists. The Dale Carnegie Institute still offers updated versions of Carnegie_s original classes, and the ability to communicate fluidly remains a core feature of the curriculum. Toastmasters, the nonprofit organization established in 1924 whose members meet weekly to practice public speaking and whose founder declared that _all talking is selling and all selling involves talking,_ is still thriving, with more than 12,500 chapters in 113 countries. The promotional video on Toastmasters_ website features a skit in which two colleagues, Eduardo and Sheila, sit in the audience at the _Sixth Annual Global Business Conference_ as a nervous speaker stumbles through a pitiful presentation. _I_m so glad I_m not him,_ whispers Eduardo. _You_re joking, right?_ replies Sheila with a satisfied smile. _Don_t you remember last month_s sales presentation to those new clients? I thought you were going to faint._ _I wasn_t that bad, was I?_ _Oh, you were that bad. Really bad. Worse, even._ Eduardo looks suitably ashamed, while the rather insensitive Sheila seems oblivious. _But,_ says Sheila, _you can fix it. You can do better._ Have you ever heard of Toastmasters?_ Sheila, a young and attractive brunette, hauls Eduardo to a Toastmasters meeting. There she volunteers to perform an exercise called _Truth or Lie,_ in which she_s supposed to tell the group of fifteen-odd participants a story about her life, after which they decide whether or not to believe her. _I bet I can fool everyone,_ she whispers to Eduardo sotto voce as she marches to the podium. She spins an elaborate tale about her years as an opera singer, concluding with her poignant decision to give it all up to spend more time with her family. When she_s finished, the toastmaster of the evening asks the group whether they believe Sheila_s story. All hands in the room go up. The toastmaster turns to Sheila and asks whether it was true. _I can_t even carry a tune!_ she beams triumphantly. Sheila comes across as disingenuous, but also oddly sympathetic. Like the anxious readers of the 1920s personality guides, she_s only trying to get ahead at the office. _There_s so much competition in my work environment,_ she confides to the camera, _that it makes it more important than ever to keep my skills sharp._ But what do _sharp skills_ look like? Should we become so proficient at self-presentation that we can dissemble without anyone suspecting? Must we learn to stage-manage our voices, gestures, and body language until we can tell_sell_any story we want? These seem venal aspirations, a marker of how far we_ve come_and not in a good way_since the days of Dale Carnegie_s childhood. Dale_s parents had high moral standards; they wanted their son to pursue a career in religion or education, not sales. It seems unlikely that they would have approved of a self-improvement technique called _Truth or Lie._ Or, for that matter, of Carnegie_s best-selling advice on how to get people to admire you and do your bidding. How to Win Friends and Influence People is full of chapter titles like _Making People Glad to Do What You Want_ and _How to Make People Like You Instantly._ All of which raises the question, how did we go from Character to Personality without realizing that we had sacrificed something meaningful along the way? 2 THE MYTH OF CHARISMATIC LEADERSHIP The Culture of Personality, a Hundred Years Later Society is itself an education in the extrovert values, and rarely has there been a society that has preached them so hard. No man is an island, but how John Donne would writhe to hear how often, and for what reasons, the thought is so tiresomely repeated. _WILLIAM WHYTE Salesmanship as a Virtue: Live with Tony Robbins _Are you excited?_ cries a young woman named Stacy as I hand her my registration forms. Her honeyed voice rises into one big exclamation point. I nod and smile as brightly as I can. Across the lobby of the Atlanta Convention Center, I hear people shrieking. _What_s that noise?_ I ask. _They_re getting everyone pumped up to go inside!_ Stacy enthuses. _That_s part of the whole UPW experience._ She hands me a purple spiral binder and a laminated nametag to wear around my neck. UNLEASH THE POWER WITHIN, proclaims the binder in big block letters. Welcome to Tony Robbins_s entry-level seminar. I_ve paid $895 in exchange, according to the promotional materials, for learning how to be more energetic, gain momentum in my life, and conquer my fears. But the truth is that I_m not here to unleash the power within me (though I_m always happy to pick up a few pointers); I_m here because this seminar is the first stop on my journey to understand the Extrovert Ideal. I_ve seen Tony Robbins_s infomercials_he claims that there_s always one airing at any given moment_and he strikes me as one of the more extroverted people on earth. But he_s not just any extrovert. He_s the king of self-help, with a client roster that has included President Clinton, Tiger Woods, Nelson Mandela, Margaret Thatcher, Princess Diana, Mikhail Gorbachev, Mother Teresa, Serena Williams, Donna Karan_and 50 million other people. And the self-help industry, into which hundreds of thousands of Americans pour their hearts, souls, and some $11 billion a year, by definition reveals our conception of the ideal self, the one we aspire to become if only we follow the seven principles of this and the three laws of that. I want to know what this ideal self looks like. Stacy asks if I_ve brought my meals with me. It seems a strange question: Who carries supper with them from New York City to Atlanta? She explains that I_ll want to refuel at my seat; for the next four days, Friday through Monday, we_ll be working fifteen hours a day, 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., with only one short afternoon break. Tony will be onstage the entire time and I won_t want to miss a moment. I look around the lobby. Other people seem to have come prepared_they_re strolling toward the hall, cheerfully lugging grocery bags stuffed with PowerBars, bananas, and corn chips. I pick up a couple of bruised apples from the snack bar and make my way to the auditorium. Greeters wearing UPW T-shirts and ecstatic smiles line the entrance, springing up and down, fists pumping. You can_t get inside without slapping them five. I know, because I try. Inside the vast hall, a phalanx of dancers is warming up the crowd to the Billy Idol song _Mony Mony,_ amplified by a world-class sound system, magnified on giant Megatron screens flanking the stage. They move in sync like backup dancers in a Britney Spears video, but are dressed like middle managers. The lead performer is a fortysomething balding fellow wearing a white button-down shirt, conservative tie, rolled-up sleeves, and a great-to-meet-you smile. The message seems to be that we can all learn to be this exuberant when we get to work every morning. Indeed, the dance moves are simple enough for us to imitate at our seats: jump and clap twice; clap to the left; clap to the right. When the song changes to _Gimme Some Lovin_,_ many in the audience climb atop their metal folding chairs, where they continue to whoop and clap. I stand somewhat peevishly with arms crossed until I decide that there_s nothing to be done but join in and hop up and down along with my seatmates. Eventually the moment we_ve all been waiting for arrives: Tony Robbins bounds onstage. Already gigantic at six feet seven inches, he looks a hundred feet tall on the Megatron screen. He_s movie-star handsome, with a head of thick brown hair, a Pepsodent smile, and impossibly defined cheekbones. EXPERIENCE TONY ROBBINS LIVE! the seminar advertisement had promised, and now here he is, dancing with the euphoric crowd. It_s about fifty degrees in the hall, but Tony is wearing a short-sleeved polo shirt and shorts. Many in the audience have brought blankets with them, having somehow known that the auditorium would be kept refrigerator-cold, presumably to accommodate Tony_s high-octane metabolism. It would take another Ice Age to cool this man off. He_s leaping and beaming and managing, somehow, to make eye contact with all 3,800 of us. The greeters jump rapturously in the aisles. Tony opens his arms wide, embracing us all. If Jesus returned to Earth and made his first stop at the Atlanta Convention Center, it would be hard to imagine a more jubilant reception. This is true even in the back row where I_m sitting with others who spent only $895 for _general admission,_ as opposed to $2,500 for a _Diamond Premiere Membership,_ which gets you a seat up front, as close to Tony as possible. When I bought my ticket over the phone, the account rep advised me that the people in the front rows_where _you_re looking directly at Tony for sure_ instead of relying on the Megatron_are generally _more successful in life._ _Those are the people who have more energy,_ she advised. _Those are the people who are screaming._ I have no way of judging how successful the people next to me are, but they certainly seem thrilled to be here. At the sight of Tony, exquisitely stage-lit to set off his expressive face, they cry out and pour into the aisles rock-concert style. Soon enough, I join them. I_ve always loved to dance, and I have to admit that gyrating en masse to Top 40 classics is an excellent way to pass the time. Unleashed power comes from high energy, according to Tony, and I can see his point. No wonder people travel from far and wide to see him in person (there_s a lovely young woman from Ukraine sitting_no, leaping_next to me with a delighted smile). I really must start doing aerobics again when I get back to New York, I decide. When the music finally stops, Tony addresses us in a raspy voice, half Muppet, half bedroom-sexy, introducing his theory of _Practical Psychology._ The gist of it is that knowledge is useless until it_s coupled with action. He has a seductive, fast-talking delivery that Willy Loman would have sighed over. Demonstrating practical psychology in action, Tony instructs us to find a partner and to greet each other as if we feel inferior and scared of social rejection. I team up with a construction worker from downtown Atlanta, and we extend tentative handshakes, looking bashfully at the ground as the song _I Want You to Want Me_ plays in the background. Then Tony calls out a series of artfully phrased questions: _Was your breath full or shallow?_ _SHALLOW!_ yells the audience in unison. _Did you hesitate or go straight toward them?_ _HESITATE!_ _Was there tension in your body or were you relaxed?_ _TENSION!_ Tony asks us to repeat the exercise, but this time to greet our partners as if the impression we make in the first three to five seconds determines whether they_ll do business with us. If they don_t, _everyone you care about will die like pigs in hell._ I_m startled by Tony_s emphasis on business success_this is a seminar about personal power, not sales. Then I remember that Tony is not only a life coach but also a businessman extraordinaire; he started his career in sales and today serves as chairman of seven privately held companies. BusinessWeek once estimated his income at $80 million a year. Now he seems to be trying, with all the force of his mighty personality, to impart his salesman_s touch. He wants us not only to feel great but to radiate waves of energy, not just to be liked, but to be well liked; he wants us to know how to sell ourselves. I_ve already been advised by the Anthony Robbins Companies, via a personalized forty-five-page report generated by an online personality test that I took in preparation for this weekend, that _Susan_ should work on her tendency to tell, not sell, her ideas. (The report was written in the third person, as if it was to be reviewed by some imaginary manager evaluating my people skills.) The audience divides into pairs again, enthusiastically introducing themselves and pumping their partners_ hands. When we_re finished, the questions repeat. _Did that feel better, yes or no?_ _YES!_ _Did you use your body differently, yes or no?_ _YES!_ _Did you use more muscles in your face, yes or no?_ _YES!_ _Did you move straight toward them, yes or no?_ _YES!_ This exercise seems designed to show how our physiological state influences our behavior and emotions, but it also suggests that salesmanship governs even the most neutral interactions. It implies that every encounter is a high-stakes game in which we win or lose the other person_s favor. It urges us to meet social fear in as extroverted a manner as possible. We must be vibrant and confident, we must not seem hesitant, we must smile so that our interlocutors will smile upon us. Taking these steps will make us feel good_and the better we feel, the better we can sell ourselves. Tony seems the perfect person to demonstrate such skills. He strikes me as having a _hyperthymic_ temperament_a kind of extroversion-on-steroids characterized, in the words of one psychiatrist, by _exuberant, upbeat, overenergetic, and overconfident lifelong traits_ that have been recognized as an asset in business, especially sales. People with these traits often make wonderful company, as Tony does onstage. But what if you admire the hyperthymic among us, but also like your calm and thoughtful self? What if you love knowledge for its own sake, not necessarily as a blueprint to action? What if you wish there were more, not fewer, reflective types in the world? Tony seems to have anticipated such questions. _But I_m not an extrovert, you say!_ he told us at the start of the seminar. _So? You don_t have to be an extrovert to feel alive!_ True enough. But it seems, according to Tony, that you_d better act like one if you don_t want to flub the sales call and watch your family die like pigs in hell. The evening culminates with the Firewalk, one of the flagship moments of the UPW seminar, in which we_re challenged to walk across a ten-foot bed of coals without burning our feet. Many people attend UPW because they_ve heard about the Firewalk and want to try it themselves. The idea is to propel yourself into such a fearless state of mind that you can withstand even 1,200-degree heat. Leading up to that moment, we spend hours practicing Tony_s techniques_exercises, dance moves, visualizations. I notice that people in the audience are starting to mimic Tony_s every movement and facial expression, including his signature gesture of pumping his arm as if he were pitching a baseball. The evening crescendoes until finally, just before midnight, we march to the parking lot in a torchlit procession, nearly four thousand strong, chanting YES! YES! YES! to the thump of a tribal beat. This seems to electrify my fellow UPWers, but to me this drum-accompanied chant_YES! Ba-da-da-da, YES! Dum-dum-dum-DUM, YES! Ba-da-da-da_sounds like the sort of thing a Roman general would stage to announce his arrival in the city he_s about to sack. The greeters who manned the gates to the auditorium earlier in the day with high fives and bright smiles have morphed into gatekeepers of the Firewalk, arms beckoning toward the bridge of flames. As best I can tell, a successful Firewalk depends not so much on your state of mind as on how thick the soles of your feet happen to be, so I watch from a safe distance. But I seem to be the only one hanging back. Most of the UPWers make it across, whooping as they go. _I did it!_ they cry when they get to the other side of the firepit. _I did it!_ They_ve entered a Tony Robbins state of mind. But what exactly does this consist of? It is, first and foremost, a superior mind_the antidote to Alfred Adler_s inferiority complex. Tony uses the word power rather than superior (we_re too sophisticated nowadays to frame our quests for self-improvement in terms of naked social positioning, the way we did at the dawn of the Culture of Personality), but everything about him is an exercise in superiority, from the way he occasionally addresses the audience as _girls and boys,_ to the stories he tells about his big houses and powerful friends, to the way he towers_literally_over the crowd. His superhuman physical size is an important part of his brand; the title of his best-selling book, Awaken the Giant Within, says it all. His intellect is impressive, too. Though he believes university educations are overrated (because they don_t teach you about your emotions and your body, he says) and has been slow to write his next book (because no one reads anymore, according to Tony), he_s managed to assimilate the work of academic psychologists and package it into one hell of a show, with genuine insights the audience can make their own. Part of Tony_s genius lies in the unstated promise that he_ll let the audience share his own journey from inferiority to superiority. He wasn_t always so grand, he tells us. As a kid, he was a shrimp. Before he got in shape, he was overweight. And before he lived in a castle in Del Mar, California, he rented an apartment so small that he kept his dishes in the bathtub. The implication is that we can all get over whatever_s keeping us down, that even introverts can learn to walk on coals while belting out a lusty YES. The second part of the Tony state of mind is good-heartedness. He wouldn_t inspire so many people if he didn_t make them feel that he truly cared about unleashing the power within each of them. When Tony_s onstage, you get the sense that he_s singing, dancing, and emoting with every ounce of his energy and heart. There are moments, when the crowd is on its feet, singing and dancing in unison, that you can_t help but love him, the way many people loved Barack Obama with a kind of shocked delight when they first heard him talk about transcending red and blue. At one point, Tony talks about the different needs people have_for love, certainty, variety, and so on. He is motivated by love, he tells us, and we believe him. But there_s also this: throughout the seminar, he constantly tries to _upsell_ us. He and his sales team use the UPW event, whose attendees have already paid a goodly sum, to market multi-day seminars with even more alluring names and stiffer price tags: Date with Destiny, about $5,000; Mastery University, about $10,000; and the Platinum Partnership, which, for a cool $45,000 a year, buys you and eleven other Platinum Partners the right to go on exotic vacations with Tony. During the afternoon break, Tony lingers onstage with his blond and sweetly beautiful wife, Sage, gazing into her eyes, caressing her hair, murmuring into her ear. I_m happily married, but right now Ken is in New York and I_m here in Atlanta, and even I feel lonely as I watch this spectacle. What would it be like if I were single or unhappily partnered? It would _arouse an eager want_ in me, just as Dale Carnegie advised salesmen to do with their prospects so many years ago. And sure enough, when the break is over, a lengthy video comes on the mega-screen, pitching Tony_s relationship-building seminar. In another brilliantly conceived segment, Tony devotes part of the seminar to explaining the financial and emotional benefits of surrounding oneself with the right _peer group__after which a staffer begins a sales pitch for the $45,000 Platinum program. Those who purchase one of the twelve spots will join the _ultimate peer group,_ we are told_the _cream of the crop,_ the _elite of the elite of the elite._ I can_t help but wonder why none of the other UPWers seem to mind, or even to notice, these upselling techniques. By now many of them have shopping bags at their feet, full of stuff they bought out in the lobby_DVDs, books, even eight-by-ten glossies of Tony himself, ready for framing. But the thing about Tony_and what draws people to buy his products_is that like any good salesman, he believes in what he_s pitching. He apparently sees no contradiction between wanting the best for people and wanting to live in a mansion. He persuades us that he_s using his sales skills not only for personal gain but also to help as many of us as he can reach. Indeed, one very thoughtful introvert I know, a successful salesman who gives sales training seminars of his own, swears that Tony Robbins not only improved his business but also made him a better person. When he started attending events like UPW, he says, he focused on who he wanted to become, and now, when he delivers his own seminars, he is that person. _Tony gives me energy,_ he says, _and now I can create energy for other people when I_m onstage._ At the onset of the Culture of Personality, we were urged to develop an extroverted personality for frankly selfish reasons_as a way of outshining the crowd in a newly anonymous and competitive society. But nowadays we tend to think that becoming more extroverted not only makes us more successful, but also makes us better people. We see salesmanship as a way of sharing one_s gifts with the world. This is why Tony_s zeal to sell to and be adulated by thousands of people at once is seen not as narcissism or hucksterism, but as leadership of the highest order. If Abraham Lincoln was the embodiment of virtue during the Culture of Character, then Tony Robbins is his counterpart during the Culture of Personality. Indeed, when Tony mentions that he once thought of running for president of the United States, the audience erupts in loud cheers. But does it always make sense to equate leadership with hyper-extroversion? To find out, I visited Harvard Business School, an institution that prides itself on its ability to identify and train some of the most prominent business and political leaders of our time. The Myth of Charismatic Leadership: Harvard Business School and Beyond The first thing I notice about the Harvard Business School campus is the way people walk. No one ambles, strolls, or lingers. They stride, full of forward momentum. It_s crisp and autumnal the week I visit, and the students_ bodies seem to vibrate with September electricity as they advance across campus. When they cross each other_s paths they don_t merely nod_they exchange animated greetings, inquiring about this one_s summer with J. P. Morgan or that one_s trek in the Himalayas. They behave the same way inside the social hothouse of the Spangler Center, the sumptuously decorated student center. Spangler has floor-to-ceiling silk curtains in sea-foam green, rich leather sofas, giant Samsung high-definition TVs silently broadcasting campus news, and soaring ceilings festooned with high-wattage chandeliers. The tables and sofas are clustered mostly on the perimeter of the room, forming a brightly lit center catwalk down which the students breezily parade, seemingly unaware that all eyes are on them. I admire their nonchalance. The students are even better turned out than their surroundings, if such a thing is possible. No one is more than five pounds overweight or has bad skin or wears odd accessories. The women are a cross between Head Cheerleader and Most Likely to Succeed. They wear fitted jeans, filmy blouses, and high-heeled peekaboo-toed shoes that make a pleasing clickety_clack on Spangler_s polished wood floors. Some parade like fashion models, except that they_re social and beaming instead of aloof and impassive. The men are clean-cut and athletic; they look like people who expect to be in charge, but in a friendly, Eagle Scout sort of way. I have the feeling that if you asked one of them for driving directions, he_d greet you with a can-do smile and throw himself into the task of helping you to your destination_whether or not he knew the way. I sit down next to a couple of students who are in the middle of planning a road trip_HBS students are forever coordinating pub crawls and parties, or describing an extreme-travel junket they_ve just come back from. When they ask what brings me to campus, I say that I_m conducting interviews for a book about introversion and extroversion. I don_t tell them that a friend of mine, himself an HBS grad, once called the place the _Spiritual Capital of Extroversion._ But it turns out that I don_t have to tell them. _Good luck finding an introvert around here,_ says one. _This school is predicated on extroversion,_ adds the other. _Your grades and social status depend on it. It_s just the norm here. Everyone around you is speaking up and being social and going out._ _Isn_t there anyone on the quieter side?_ I ask. They look at me curiously. _I couldn_t tell you,_ says the first student dismissively. Harvard Business School is not, by any measure, an ordinary place. Founded in 1908, just when Dale Carnegie hit the road as a traveling salesman and only three years before he taught his first class in public speaking, the school sees itself as _educating leaders who make a difference in the world._ President George W. Bush is a graduate, as are an impressive collection of World Bank presidents, U.S. Treasury secretaries, New York City mayors, CEOs of companies like General Electric, Goldman Sachs, Procter

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