Harnessing the Power of Reading Books to Enhance Conversational Competency.

larry levine Jan 01, 2024
Harnessing the Power of Reading Books to Enhance Conversational Competency.
"Reading is essential for those who seek to rise above the ordinary."
Jim Rohn

A 2021 survey courtesy of the Pew Research Center found that 23% of American adults have not read a book in any form in the last year; reading for pleasure is becoming less popular among American adults, despite all its benefits.

Statistics provided by Golden Steps ABA:

  • The average reading level of American adults is eighth grade.
  • 42% of college graduates read books for personal growth and development.
  • 70% of adults have not been in a bookstore in the past five years.

Reading broadens your vocabulary, reading enhances your conversations, and applying what you read spurns growth.

Research conducted at the University of California, Berkeley found that reading strengthens brain activity, therefore delaying cognitive decline. 

In their research, they also found out, with an overwhelming majority of college students living stressful lives, reading can be a new, conducive method to curb stress. 

Beyond this, reading improves concentration, critical thinking skills, memory skills and vocabulary.

All being said, can all of this be applied to the sales community... I believe it can.

Reading improves your conversational competence.

Reading creates alignment with executives and key decision makers.

Reading builds your sales confidence.

“Reading is a very necessary habit for every successful businessperson,” said Ellen Parry Lewis, a fiction author. “It broadens your mind, helps with your written and verbal communication skills, and gives you a certain level of understanding and empathy.”

Here are some ways reading can benefit your sales career:

  1. It increases intelligence - As Dr. Seuss once wrote, "The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go." Reading helps to continually develop your brain.
  2. Expands vocabulary - Reading regularly exposes you to new words, phrases, and sentence structures, helping you enhance your vocabulary.
  3. Reading increases knowledge - Filling your mind with new facts, new information, and new ideas will make you a better conversationalist as you’ll always have something interesting to talk about. 

Mark Twain once said,

“The man who does not read good books is no better than the man who can’t.”

The question I'd like all of you to think about... Can reading enhance your conversational competency? I believe it can.


I love what Mark Cuban has to say about reading,

“I would continuously search for new ideas. I read every book and magazine I could. Heck, 3 bucks for a magazine, 20 bucks for a book. One good idea that led to a customer or solution and it paid for itself many times over.”

In an interview with The New York Times back in 2016, Bill Gates shared that he reads around 50 books per year. Reading is, he said, “the main way that I both learn new things and test my understanding”.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg started his own book club in 2015 to challenge himself and others to read a book every two weeks. 

In his book, Change Your Habits, Change Your Life, Tom Corley writes about the 5-year study in which he interviewed a host of self-made millionaires about their daily habits. He concluded that reading was a key factor in their success. 

Check this out... He found out that...

  • 88% of his wealthy respondents reported that they spent at least 30 minutes every day on reading and self-education. 
  • 85% read two or more self-improvement books per month. 
  • 86% said they had a passion for learning new things. 
"Many successful people don’t read for entertainment; they read to acquire better knowledge to make informed and intelligent decisions."
Tom Corley

So, here's something for all of you in sales to think about... If successful CEOs are reading to acquire better knowledge to make informed and intelligent decisions, then what prevents you from reading to do the same?

Sales professionals who commit themselves to reading find themselves sitting more frequently at the executive business table. 

Just have to ask... What are you reading right now?

We can make excuses, or we can have growth, you can't have both when it comes to reading.

Successful people have time to read because they choose to.

Successful people self-educate by reading.

Successful people are voracious readers because that’s what they want to do. They love to read, and they make time for books.

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"Conversational competence is the single most overlooked skill we fail to teach. Kids spend hours each day engaging with ideas and each other through screens, but rarely do they have an opportunity to hone their interpersonal communications skills…… Is there any 21st-century skill more important than being able to sustain coherent, confident conversation?"

This quote applies directly to the sales world.

Think about the following:

  • Are you having coherent and confident conversations with your clients and future clients?
  • Are your conversations full of conversational competence or conversational uncertainty?
  • Has technology combined with lack of reading killed our ability to truly converse with people?

Let's flip this around for a moment...

Reading has a profound impact on your conversational growth. It expands your vocabulary, exposes you to various writing styles, and introduces you to diverse perspectives and ideas. 

Reading allows you to encounter different ways of expressing thoughts, which can inspire your own communication style. Reading also exposes you to varied content providing you with interesting topics to discuss, making conversations more engaging and informative.

Reading books strengthens your conversational aptitude.

Reading fosters your critical thinking along with your comprehension skills. This becomes vital in understanding conversations and effectively contributing to them. 

Reading not only enriches your vocabulary but also broadens your knowledge base, enhancing your ability to engage in meaningful conversations.

Imagine for a moment... 

What would happen to your sales results if you brought meaningful conversations to executives and key decision makers?

As you think about your sales growth and conversational strength over the next year, can reading catapult you to new levels?

Check this out... Read 20 pages per day (average book 200 pages) one will read between 2-3 books per month, 24-36 books in one year.


Part of my morning routine is to set aside 20-30 minutes to read. In doing so, this has allowed me to read the following books:

1.     Deep Work – Cal Newport

2.     The Game of Life and How to Play It – Florence Scovel Shinn

3.     Friction – Soon Yu & Dave Birss

4.     Napoleon Hill My Mentor – Don Green

5.     Your Leadership Legacy – Oakland McCulloch

6.     The Comfort Crisis – Michael Easter

7.     Believe and Achieve – W. Clement Stone and the Napoleon Hill Foundation

8.     The Power to Change – Craig Groeschel

9.     Hello Head, Meet Heart – Hannah Morgan Austin

10.  Positive Influence – Napoleon Hill Foundation, Napoleon Hill

11.  Freedom From Your Fears – Napoleon Hill Foundation, Napoleon Hill

12.  Adversity & Advantage – Napoleon Hill Foundation, Napoleon Hill

13.  Chase the Lion – Mark Batterson

14.  Acres of Diamonds – Russell H. Conwell

15.  Napoleon Hill’s Secret – Don Green, Napoleon Hill Foundation

16.  Please Sorry Thanks – Mark Batterson

17.  Lead The Field – Earl Nightingale

18.  Dear Napoleon – Jim Stovall & Napoleon Hill Foundation

19.  Pathways To Peace Of Mind – Napoleon Hill Foundation

20.  How to do the Work – Dr. Nicole LePera

21.  Wired for Authenticity – Henna Inam

22.  Go Big Or Go Home – Diana Kander & Tucker Trotter

23.  Shift And Disrupt – Bernadette McClelland

24.  Consciously Connecting – Holland Haiis

25.  Love Your Team – Helen Fanucci

26.  Uncopyable Sales Secrets – Kay Miller

27.  The Power Of Now – Eckhart Tolle

28.  Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill

29.  Man’s Search For Meaning – Viktor Frankel

30.  Living Untethered – Michael Singer

31.  The Greatness Mindset – Lewis Howes

32.  Every Conversation Counts – Riaz Meghji

33.  How To Own Your Own Mind – Napoleon Hill Foundation

34.  Belonging, Overcoming Your Inner Critic and Reclaim Your Joy – Catherine Wood

35.  How To Sell Your Way Through Life – Napoleon Hill/Napoleon Hill Foundation

36.  You Owe You – Eric Thomas

I found that reading has built my conversational muscle.

Reading has become part of my morning workout for my mind and soul.

Just like exercise strengthens our body, reading strengthens our ability to communicate effectively. It exposes us to a multitude of language patterns, new words, and different ways of expressing ideas. 

Reading will introduce you to various topics and viewpoints, providing you with a wealth of information to draw upon during your conversations. It's like having a vast library of knowledge that you can tap into whenever you engage in conversations, enabling you to contribute thoughtfully and confidently.

Just as athletes practice to enhance their performance, regularly reading and engaging with different types of content can significantly improve your conversational skills over time. It's a great way to continually challenge and strengthen your ability to communicate effectively with others. 

Now think of your clients and future clients... What are you leaving on the table by coming up with all the excuses on why you have no time or desire to read?

Conversational competency occurs through reading!

Originally published on larry Levine's LinkedIn.

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