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Sonali Karande Brahma
30 Mar 2016 . 6 min read

Professionals Who Read Versus Ones Who Don’t


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You can either love it or hate it. There is no grey to reading.

In all these years I have met only two type of people – one type who proudly says ‘’I read!” and the second type who says, “Well, I am not into reading.”

From ancient times, reading has been bestowed with that little halo that seems to proclaim that here is a person who reads and he is the chosen one - wherever he goes, whatever he does.

I too, like many others of my generation, am in whole hearted agreement with this thought. But, as I moved through the years, jobs, hierarchies, I met many, who don’t read. And this tribe just seems to be growing.

I decided to probe a little deeper on this fascination to ‘not read’.

Here’s what I got. And these revelations busted a few myths. Don’t get me wrong. I am not here to promote ‘not-reading’, I’m just trying to be fair. What I got also tells the difference in traits, behaviours and results in these two differently thinking tribes. So let’s look at it.

  1. Those who don’t read are not actually NOT READING AT ALL, but are reading very little.
  2. These non-readers are people who have an aversion to long form content. They can digest short news, short updates, articles etc.
  3. The Nons (non- readers) get their current affairs updates from the water cooler in office, from the radio in their cars, from their social media updates.
  4. The current ‘Nons’ prefer getting relevant news (like cricket updates) or ‘who kicked the bucket’ updates from digital screens – social media etc.
  5. They prefer to subscribe to apps on their handhelds like ‘’News in Shorts’’ or ‘’In Shorts’’ (do you read me? God help the editorials in our brick and mortar publications).
  6. They will read only what is relevant and discard or ignore what they feel is not relevant (even emails where they are in cc and bcc).
  7. They prefer to use their eyes to watch and not read. Watch videos and learn and not read the text.
  8. To them text is boring. The text readers are also boring. Yawn! They say.

So what are they not missing in life and at work?

  1. Nothing. At least, apparently. They seem to know everything they should.
  2. They can take quick decisions based on what they know.
  3. They are still producing results and are maybe good at work, equally so as compared to the readers
  4. They are good leaders as well and can make small or big talk, depending on the situation.
  5. They are smart. And know how to ease their way out of situations they have not read about.
  6. They do not read or subscribe to our paper-dailies, but still get a shot of daily news – from the telly, FB or what have you.
  7. The middle aged ones and the older ones don’t read but still know a lot about a lot. One individual I know, has climbed to the top of the organizational charts without reading much. After hitting half a century in his life, he says, “I don’t like reading.”

A case for reading!

  1. In the professional world, reading seems to put you at an advantage.
  2. You are ’seen’ as an intellectual, a knowledgeable fellow. People automatically think highly of you. A great thing going for a good personal brand image.
  3. You may therefore be seen as more capable, if you display knowledge about diverse subjects through various interactions and conversations and during meetings.
  4. If you are seen as more capable, people will trust you to do more good work and you will be entrusted with more responsibility.
  5. Overall, reading improves your personal image and maybe your chances at work and in life.

Now, a deeper look into how reading helps and improves or displays different traits.

  1. It has been observed that although the literacy rate is rising, deeper reading is going down. How deep do you read what you read? How much of the reading do you try and unravel? Probably, very little. Superficial reading, rapid reading, one time read, skimming is perhaps what is dominating the reading patterns of the millennials, the GenYs.
  2. Deeper reading rasies the empathy of the reader. It helps in opening of the mind. Through different types of reading, including spiritual, a reader’s mind becomes more receptive to the conflicting or dynamic signals in the environment he is in. It helps him think deeper and maybe accept another point of view.
  3. Poetry reading is proven to help in simplifying complex problems or constructs. For one, poetry teaches us to battle with and simplify complexity. Harman Industries founder Sidney Harman once told The New York Times, “I used to tell my senior staff to get me poets as managers. Poets are our original systems thinkers. They look at our most complex environments and they reduce the complexity to something they begin to understand.” Business leaders face the challenge of turning everyday chaos into something understandable and manageable.  Reading and writing poetry can exercise that capacity, improving one’s ability to better conceptualize the world and communicate it — through presentations or writing — to others.
  4. Fiction reading for 6 minutes has also proven to reduce stress by 68%.
  5. Deep reading habits can enhance insight, innovation, empathy, and personal effectiveness. This is especially true in case of leaders or those who are in leading positons. According to The New York Times, Steve Jobs had a never-ending interest in William Blake; Nike founder Phil Knight so worships his library that you have to take off your shoes there and bow. This is legendary stuff and stuff made of legends. But since you are reading it, you know about it. This is how reading helps in assimilating information, processing it, using it to improve things around you and within you.
  6. Many business people claim that reading diverse things is good for creativity. And leaders who can glean insights from sociology, the physical sciences, economics, or psychology, and apply them to their organizations stand a better chance to innovate, excel and prosper.
  7. Reading increases verbal intelligence, vocabulary and helps in making a leader a practised and articulate communicator.
  8. Reading novels can improve empathy and understanding of social cues, allowing a leader to better work with and understand others. As per author Anne Kreamer, these are traits that are linked to increased organizational effectiveness, and to pay raises and promotions for those who possess these qualities.
  9. Reading heightens emotional intelligence that improves leadership and management ability.

Looks like good leadership is closely linked to good readership (reading) – deep and broad reading. It makes you an enriched person and helps you in enriching your world, your community and the world at large.

What other traits have you observed among the readers and the non-readers? Do share those with us.

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Sonali Karande Brahma
Sonali Karande Brahma is a Brand and Content Strategist, Creative Consultant and Writer with 20 years of experience in creating powerful stories for advertising, brand building and communication. She has worked in mainstream advertising for major MNC and Indian brands. She thrives on ideas and writes on diverse subjects like education, parenthood, business, the art of business writing and social media. She can be reached on writersonalibrahma@gmail.com

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