Can reading make you a better project manager?

A key component in any IT project manager's toolkit is the ability to be empathetic. A 2013 study, conducted by psychologists at The New School of Social Research, found that reading can improve how you relate to people.

What were the study's findings? 

According to research, reading literacy fiction can improve your ability to understand others emotions. 

According to research, reading literacy fiction can improve your ability to understand others emotions

Over the course of five experiments, 1,000 participants were randomly allocated literacy texts to read. These texts included extracts of bestselling books including Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl and more authoritative works such as Orange-winner The Tiger's Wife by Téa Obrehtby or by Anton Chekhov. 

Using a techniques derived from Theory of Mind, David Comer Kidd and Emanuele Castano measured the ability of participants to identify emotions in others. They found that those who read literacy fictions consistently scored higher than those that read either popular fiction or non-fiction texts.

"What great writers do is to turn you into the writer. In literary fiction, the incompleteness of the characters turns your mind to trying to understand the minds of others," said Kidd.

How does reading make me a better project manager?

As we know, higher emotional intelligence (EI) can improve your ability to build effective working relationships with employees and co-workers. The study provides evidence that by reading literacy fiction, managers and leaders can improve their ability to develop, maintain and utilise social relationships. 

The researchers argued that, "the same psychological processes are used to navigate fiction and real relationships. Fiction is not just a simulator of a social experience, it is a social experience".

How can reading make you more empathetic? How can reading make you more empathetic?

Why is empathy important to me?

Being empathetic is what underlies our ability to navigate the complex and sophisticated social relationships that characterise human life.  

As a project manager, one of your core tasks is to manage people. By being able to understand their emotions you can motivate, lead, inspire and understand your employees.

Further, empathy is a critical aspect of emotional intelligence, higher EI has a positive association with lower personal stress levels. When you are aware and in control of your emotions, you are better able to relate to your staff and improve morale. 

As a project manager, being able to govern personal and employee emotions is an important skill to have. Alongside reading, a good way to improve this characteristic is by attending educational courses such as IT project management training. Get in touch with a quality training service provider today.