Albert Einstein, a successful introvert

8 Things You Should Know About Introverts

8 Things You Should Know About Introverts from the book “Quiet” by Susan Cain

Parker Klein ✌️
Published in
9 min readApr 22, 2024


1. They aren’t shy, they’re overstimulated

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.

Sensitive people tend to speak softly because that’s how they prefer others to communicate with them.

Introverted patients responded better and interacted longer with robots that were designed to speak in a soothing, gentle manner: “I know it is hard, but remember that it’s for your own good,” and, “Very nice, keep up the good work.” Extroverts, on the other hand, worked harder for robots that used more bracing, aggressive language: “You can do more than that, I know it!” and “Concentrate on your exercise!”

Extroverts are sociable because their brains are good at handling competing demands on their attention — which is just what dinner-party conversation involves. In contrast, introverts often feel repelled by social events that force them to attend to many people at once.

It can be hard for extroverts to understand how badly introverts need to recharge at the end of a busy day. We all empathize with a sleep-deprived mate who comes home from work too tired to talk, but it’s harder to grasp that social overstimulation can be just as exhausting.

People who are “rejection-sensitive” are warm and loving when they feel secure, hostile and controlling when they feel rejected.

Don’t mistake your child’s caution in new situations for an inability to relate to others. He’s recoiling from novelty or overstimulation, not from human contact.

If you want your child to learn these skills, don’t let her hear you call her “shy”: she’ll believe the label and experience her nervousness as a fixed trait rather than an emotion she can control. She also knows full well that “shy” is a negative word in our society. Above all, do not shame her for her shyness.

2. They are friendly

The word introvert is not a synonym for hermit or misanthrope. Introverts can be these things, but most are perfectly friendly.

Introverts may have strong social skills and enjoy parties and business meetings, but after a while they wish they were home in their pajamas. They prefer to devote their social energies to close friends, colleagues, and family.

The students whose relationships were freest of conflict had high scores for agreeableness. Agreeable people are warm, supportive, and loving; personality psychologists have found that if you sit them down in front of a computer screen of words, they focus longer than others do on words like caring, console, and help, and a shorter time on words like abduct, assault, and harass. Introverts and extroverts are equally likely to be agreeable; there is no correlation between extroversion and agreeableness.

Your degree of extroversion seems to influence how many friends you have, in other words, but not how good a friend you are.

3. They perform better alone

Introverts prefer to work independently, and solitude can be a catalyst to innovation.

“I am a horse for a single harness, not cut out for tandem or teamwork … for well I know that in order to attain any definite goal, it is imperative that one person do the thinking and the commanding.” — Albert Einstein

In many fields, it’s only when you’re alone that you can engage in Deliberate Practice, which is the key to exceptional achievement. When you practice deliberately, you identify the tasks or knowledge that are just out of your reach, strive to upgrade your performance, monitor your progress, and revise accordingly. Practice sessions that fall short of this standard are not only less useful — they’re counterproductive. They reinforce existing cognitive mechanisms instead of improving them.

Deliberate Practice is best conducted alone for several reasons. It takes intense concentration, and other people can be distracting. It requires deep motivation, often self-generated. But most important, it involves working on the task that’s most challenging to you personally. Only when you’re alone can you “go directly to the part that’s challenging to you. If you want to improve what you’re doing, you have to be the one who generates the move. Imagine a group class — you’re the one generating the move only a small percentage of the time.”

The best violinists rated “practice alone” as the most important of all their music-related activities. Elite musicians — even those who perform in groups — describe practice sessions with their chamber group as “leisure” compared with solo practice, where the real work gets done.

Teens who are too gregarious to spend time alone often fail to cultivate their talents “because practicing music or studying math requires a solitude they dread.”

Top performers overwhelmingly worked for companies that gave their workers the most privacy, personal space, control over their physical environments, and freedom from interruption.

“Most inventors and engineers I’ve met are like me — they’re shy and they live in their heads. They’re almost like artists. In fact, the very best of them are artists. And artists work best alone where they can control an invention’s design without a lot of other people designing it for marketing or some other committee. I don’t believe anything really revolutionary has been invented by committee. If you’re that rare engineer who’s an inventor and also an artist, I’m going to give you some advice that might be hard to take. That advice is: Work alone. You’re going to be best able to design revolutionary products and features if you’re working on your own. Not on a committee. Not on a team.” — Steve Wozniak

4. They think before they speak

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.

“I have naturally formed the habit of restraining my thoughts. A thoughtless word hardly ever escaped my tongue or pen. Experience has taught me that silence is part of the spiritual discipline of a votary of truth. We find so many people impatient to talk. All this talking can hardly be said to be of any benefit to the world. It is so much waste of time. My shyness has been in reality my shield and buckler. It has allowed me to grow. It has helped me in my discernment of truth.” — Mahatma Gandhi

Introverts are “geared to inspect” and extroverts “geared to respond.”

The longer you pause to process surprising or negative feedback, the more likely you are to learn from it.

It’s also hard for introverts to understand just how hurtful their silence can be.

People followed Moses because his words were thoughtful, not because he spoke them well.

“Those who know do not speak. Those who speak do not know.” — Lao Zi

5. They are great at sticking to a plan

The introverts are much better at making a plan, staying with a plan, being very disciplined.

If genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration, then as a culture we tend to lionize the one percent. We love its flash and dazzle. But great power lies in the other ninety-nine percent.

Introverts sometimes outperform extroverts even on social tasks that require persistence. The extroverts would make these wonderful calls, but then a shiny object of some kind would cross their paths and they’d lose focus. The introverts, in contrast, would talk very quietly, but boom, boom, boom, they were making those calls. They were focused and determined.

“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s that I stay with problems longer.” — Albert Einstein

While extroverts are more likely to skate from one hobby or activity to another, introverts often stick with their enthusiasms. This gives them a major advantage as they grow, because true self-esteem comes from competence, not the other way around. Researchers have found that intense engagement in and commitment to an activity is a proven route to happiness and well-being.

Excellent students seem not only to possess the cognitive ability to solve math and science problems, but also to have a useful personality characteristic: quiet persistence.

6. They experience less serotonin and need less excitement

Extroverts tend to experience more pleasure and excitement than introverts do.

Extroverts’ dopamine pathways appear to be more active than those of introverts.

Introverts will be drawn from time to time to sex, and parties, and status, but the kick they get will be relatively small, so they are not going to break a leg to get there. In short, introverts just don’t buzz as easily.

People with a variant of a serotonin-regulating gene linked to introversion and sensitivity take 28 percent less financial risk than others.

“Success in investing doesn’t correlate with IQ. Once you have ordinary intelligence, what you need is the temperament to control the urges that get other people into trouble in investing.” — Warren Buffett

7. They make better, more long-term decisions

Introverts also seem to be better than extroverts at delaying gratification, a crucial life skill associated with everything from higher SAT scores and income to lower body mass index.

Extroverts are more likely to take a quick-and-dirty approach to problem-solving, trading accuracy for speed, making increasing numbers of mistakes as they go, and abandoning ship altogether when the problem seems too difficult or frustrating. Introverts think before they act, digest information thoroughly, stay on task longer, give up less easily, and work more accurately. Introverts and extroverts also direct their attention differently: if you leave them to their own devices, the introverts tend to sit around wondering about things, imagining things, recalling events from their past, and making plans for the future. The extroverts are more likely to focus on what’s happening around them. It’s as if extroverts are seeing “what is” while their introverted peers are asking “what if.”

Introverts have also been found to outperform their peers when playing gambling games calling for sophisticated decision-making.

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.

8. They get into flow more easily

Flow is an optimal state in which you feel totally engaged in an activity. In a state of flow, you’re neither bored nor anxious, and you don’t question your own adequacy. Hours pass without your noticing. Flow often occurs in conditions in which people become independent of the social environment to the degree that they no longer respond exclusively in terms of its rewards and punishments. To achieve such autonomy, a person has to learn to provide rewards to herself.

If you’re an introvert, find your flow by using your gifts. You have the power of persistence, the tenacity to solve complex problems, and the clearsightedness to avoid pitfalls that trip others up. You enjoy relative freedom from the temptations of superficial prizes like money and status. Indeed, your biggest challenge may be to fully harness your strengths. You may be so busy trying to appear like a zestful, reward-sensitive extrovert that you undervalue your own talents, or feel underestimated by those around you. But when you’re focused on a project that you care about, you probably find that your energy is boundless.

“Psychological theories usually assume that we are motivated either by the need to eliminate an unpleasant condition like hunger or fear, or by the expectation of some future reward such as money, status, or prestige. But in flow, a person could work around the clock for days on end, for no better reason than to keep on working.” — Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Read my full notes from “Quiet” by Susan Cain ⬇️

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Parker Klein ✌️

Former @Google @Qualcomm @PizzaNova. Building Twos: write, remember & share *things* (