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What Bill Gates’ is reading this summer: “How To Know A Person” by David Brooks

summer reading book by Bill gates

Bill Gates recently shared his summer book recommendations, highlighting one as a “must-read”: “How To Know A Person: The Art of Seeing Others Deeply and Being Deeply Seen” by David Brooks. Published in October 2023, the book offers insights into enhancing communication and connection with others. Gates praised it as a guide to fostering deeper relationships and broader perspectives, underscoring its value for anyone seeking a more connected and humane life.

What is it about?

Brooks’ book revolves around three core themes: curiosity, empathy, and self-awareness, each crucial for understanding and relating to others.

The Power of curiosity

Brooks distinguishes between “illuminators” and “diminishers.” Illuminators are curious, asking open-ended questions that allow others to share their stories authentically. This genuine interest makes people feel valued and understood. Diminishers, on the other hand, lack curiosity and often redirect conversations back to themselves. Gates noted how adopting open-ended questions like “How did you…?” or “What’s it like…?” has positively impacted his own life, fostering deeper connections.

Empathy-Building skills

Beyond listening, understanding and relating to others’ experiences can make conversations more meaningful. Brooks emphasizes that every person has a unique perspective shaped by their life experiences. He outlines three empathy-building skills: mirroring emotions, mentalizing (understanding others’ feelings based on past experiences), and caring. By practicing these skills, one can show empathy effectively, making others feel recognized and supported.

Self-Awareness and Introspection

Brooks advocates for introspection and self-awareness, challenging readers to step outside their viewpoints and understand others’ perspectives. He shares his own experiences, acknowledging how his elite background might influence others’ perceptions. To combat biases, Brooks suggests seeking feedback from friends and colleagues to gain an external view of oneself. This, he argues, is crucial for overcoming personal blind spots and fostering genuine connections.

Brooks’ book provides practical advice for becoming more curious, empathetic, and self-aware, aiming to help readers build stronger, more meaningful relationships. Gates’ endorsement highlights its potential to transform how we connect with and understand those around us.

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