The power of language and influence is manifested when we express ourselves freely in many forms. Reading, writing, and communicating are essential skills we use in school, work, and pretty much in all aspects of our lives. Without a doubt, finessing these elements will set you up for success when it comes to impressing your teachers and peers.
How to be a better reader
Reading can be a relaxing hobby if you take your time with it and keep an open mind. Reading regularly and intently will certainly take you outside your comfort zone, and it’s these moments when your curiosity is piqued that make learning exciting and rewarding. If reading more is one of your goals, here are some tips to keep you on the right track:
I tell my students all the time that reading out loud is so beneficial to improving retention and memory. Remember when you were younger, and you were encouraged by your teachers to read aloud in front of the class? Why? “A growing body of research suggests that we may be missing out by reading only with the voices inside our minds. The ancient art of reading aloud has a number of benefits for adults, from helping improve our memories and understand complex texts, to strengthening emotional bonds between people” (Hardach, 2020). With practice, you’ll not only increase your reading speed and comprehension speed, you’ll also become more aware of how the author’s style of writing illustrates their story’s themes and perspectives.
With the hustle and bustle of our daily schedules, it’s so easy to get caught up in work, school, or social media. With this fast-paced lifestyle, it’s no wonder we don’t have time to read, and when we do, we read quickly to get it over with. Have you ever read a paragraph or chapter and realized you don’t remember what happened only minutes later? This is because reading quickly or skimming the pages hinders how you absorb the material and context. Slowing down, therefore, helps you grasp the plot or concepts more easily and allows you to better understand what you’ve read. Over time, you’ll notice your reading speed pick up and you’ll see improvements in comprehending and retaining information as you read it.
Have you ever picked up a book, lost interest, and then struggled to finish it? Well, we sometimes think that in order to be a good reader, we need to complete the book we started. There’s a reason you lost interest in the book; you simply couldn’t connect with it. The solution to this problem is to simply put the book down and grab another. Spending time on a book that you’re no longer interested in will deter you from dedicating the time to reading. So, read what you enjoy and what piques your curiosity; you’ll notice you’ll be more motivated and connected as you do so.
How to be a better writer
Writing takes a lot of work and practice. Whether you’re writing for school or business, there is always room for improvement and growth. Here are some ways you can sharpen those writing skills right now:
Dedicate time to writing.
Whether you work best in the morning or at night, schedule some time to sit down and write. Make sitting down and writing for a dedicated amount of time a habit. Start small and write for 30 minutes a day, then increase it as you go. By the time you’ve developed a routine, you might not even notice that you’ve written for a couple of hours.
Sometimes inspiration will come to us unexpectedly, so keep a notebook beside you to write down your ideas. Whether you’re brainstorming for a short story or deliberating on a thesis statement for an essay, it’s important to find a home for these ideas so you can refer to them later. As soon as you put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, your notebook full of ideas will help you write more easily and effectively. Soon enough, you’ll find yourself in a writer’s flow.
Writing is a skill that requires your full attention, so it’s essential to eliminate distractions. I normally turn off my phone or snooze notifications and organize my desk before I start writing. I also use The Pomodoro Technique, which is a focusing tool that helps you stay in the zone, cut down on interruptions, and maximize efficiency. Once you complete a writing task for a specified amount of time, give yourself a short break. Once your break is done and your eyes are rested, it’ll be easier to get back to the flow of writing.
How to be a better communicator
Communication is the one skill we use every day, but it can also be one of the most challenging to carry out. Whether you’re presenting in front of your class or chatting with a friend, here are some things to keep in mind to help you communicate better:
Learn to listen.
The difference between active and passive listening is active listening requires you to pay attention to what others are saying, comprehend their points, and respond effectively. Doing so seems easy enough, but it can be very difficult when you are distracted or simply aren’t interested enough in the conversation. Regardless, you should give active listening a try. The next time you’re speaking to someone, spend more time actively listening to what they are saying rather than formulating responses in your mind.
Silence in conversations can be awkward, but in conversations they’re welcomed. Why? Silence helps you have conversations with natural pauses and allows you to fully engage with the speaker’s responses. It also prevents you from interrupting someone while they are talking.
There are so many times when conversations lead to arguments, and this is because of assumptions. A person can assume something about what another person is saying, which can lead to one of them getting upset. It’s important to ask clarifying questions to make sure you understand what the person you are talking to is saying, and then respond with an appropriate answer.
As you can see, writing and reading go hand-in-hand: reading and expanding your interests allows your writing to flourish. Consequently, this results in you being able to communicate successfully with others. Expanding your knowledge by reading to your heart’s content and seeing your brilliant ideas come to life on paper are incredible feats you’ll surely experience once you follow the tips above. A new year is upon us so what better way to start off the year than by honing in on your skills to be effective communicators in life.
Cirillo, Francesco. (2022). The Pomodoro Technique. Frances Cocirillo. https://francescocirillo.com/pages/pomodoro-technique. Accessed January 5th, 2022.
Hardach, Sophie. (Sept 17th, 2020). Why you should read this out loud.https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200917-the-surprising-power-of-reading-aloud. Accessed January 5th, 2022.