Are you a reader? By that, I mean you read, on average, 4+ books a year.
Half of the United States reads less than four books a year. So, any more than four and you’re immediately in our country’s top half of readers.
I’m a reader. You’ll find me scrolling #bookstagram and #booktok while picking my monthly read from Book of the Month. I roam the aisles of Barnes and Noble regularly and have a special reading light that I use when my poor husband is trying to sleep.
For those that enjoy reading, I don’t need to extrapolate why reading is beneficial to your mind or humanity as a whole. Yet, have you taken the time to consider how reading makes you a better communicator?
Communicating comes in all shapes and sizes so no matter what your profession is, you are a communicator. And like all of us (present company included), you can be a better one.
Here are three ways that reading can improve your communication at work and at home.
1. Lowers Your Level of Ethnocentrism
Ethnocentrism is a word to describe when groups or cultures view themselves as superior to other cultures. Typically, the group will judge all other groups based on its own standards and norms.
Here’s the thing, every single person on the planet has some level of ethnocentrism. This is not an inherently western paradigm. Yet, some people have high levels of ethnocentrism, while others have lower levels.
Why? Many people say the answer is, exposure.
Travel is a fantastic way to expose yourself to different cultures, but that’s not always realistic for most of us.
Lucky for us, we have books. Through books, you can dive head-first into a new place and be introduced to a new group of people. You get to learn their values, their fears, and their history.
A book may be the next best thing to a plane ticket.
Through exposure, your levels of ethnocentrism can decrease.
I argue that this makes you a better communicator. You are in a position to share ideas with a growing number of people in a way that is heard by all.
That is difficult but certainly not impossible.
The next time you take a book off the shelf, grab one that introduces you to a culture or people group you’ve yet to be exposed to.
2. It Increases Your Empathy
It’s no longer a hidden fact that empathy is a must for good communicators and leaders.
Just as reading opens you up to new cultures, it opens you up to people’s minds and emotions.
A book can give you a glimpse into the parts of a person that are normally hidden.
We can only live the life we have, but through reading, we learn the experiences of others. This can have a huge impact on the way you communicate.
As you learn about various life experiences, mindsets, and emotions of people through stories, you are more likely to empathize with someone in real life when they share their story with you.
How does this make you a better communicator?
You are now positioned to reach your audience. You understand them a little better. You know the kind of communication they respond to. You know their pain points. You know how they need to hear what you have to say.
3. It Builds Your Vocabulary
The more you read, the more likely it will build your vocabulary.
Most likely, you’ve known this since grade school.
Yet, most adults don’t look to increase their vocabulary.
It’s a shame, really.
Side note: I learned a new word while reading last night. Verisimilitude.
In case you don’t know (I sure didn’t), verisimilitude is “the appearance of being true or real,” according to Google.
If you’ve ever been communicating and thought to yourself, “Oh, there has to be a word for what I’m thinking,” you’re probably right.
A deeper vocabulary can help you communicate more clearly and with greater precision.
Great Communicators Are Readers
All of that to say, great communicators, are readers.
Reading improves your writing skills and your eloquence when speaking. And, as we’ve seen in the points above, it can have a direct impact on your leadership.
You’ll notice I didn’t specify which types of books to read.
It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter whether it’s literary fiction or a historical biography. Whether you read fiction or non-fiction, it truly doesn’t matter.
A good book, regardless of genre, can work its way into your mind and soul.
I do encourage you to be a curious reader. The best part is that the more you read, the more curious you will become and the wider range of genres you will ingest.
So, what are you reading?