Young Bill Gates was awkward and socially inept. This book helped him learn empathy and charm.




Read the article excerpt and guess the meaning of the words in bold by choosing their synonyms below:

Since childhood Bill Gates has always been one of the smartest people in the room. But by his own 1. admission, he wasn’t always the most charming or empathetic. 

“I was overly intense and socially 2. inept,” Gates explained (…). Other people noticed. Early Microsoft employees apparently found their brilliant but introverted boss difficult, demanding, and lacking in empathy. Looking back, Gates can see their point.

“I thought if somebody had a high IQ, they could be good at everything,” he admitted in another AMA. “This 3. notion that there was just this simple idea of smartness, and it could solve everything — I wish I had known better than to think that.” (…)

These days no one would mistake Gates for being a social butterfly or irresistible charmer, but as the billionaire head of a global philanthropic powerhouse, he certainly seems to have sanded the rough edges off his 4. demeanor and learned to chat, charm, and empathize. Given his public reflections on his past deficiencies, he also seems to have cultivated some 5. humility.

(…) In a recent post on his blog recommending David Brooks’s new book, How to Know a Person, Gates reflected on his long, slow journey toward greater kindness and better social skills and just how many of the essential lessons he learned are captured in Brooks’s book. It’s a must-read for anyone struggling to polish up their social skills, he concludes. (…)

Gates 6. kicks off the post with more reflections on his youthful social inadequacies. (…) In How to Know a Person, Brooks makes the case that learning how to truly listen to and connect with others is an essential skill not just for our own happiness and development, but for a functioning democracy and 7. cohesive society. He puts a lot of the blame for our loneliness and divisions on our 8. crummy social skills. 

He also offers specific tips to help readers better connect with others. Gates had already 9. intuited some of them but he claims reading the book further improved his social skills. “These simple practices can go a long way in making others feel heard and valued,” he claims. (…)



a) confession

b) admittance


a) clumsiness

b) unskilled


a) belief

b) convictions


a) manner

b) behaviorism


a) sheepishness

b) humbleness


a) commences

b) finishes


a) comprehensive

b) close-knit


a) miserable

b) crapy


a) grasped by intuition or feeling

b) ignored


Key: 1a); 2b); 3a); 4a); 5b); 6a); 7b); 8a); 9 a)

In order to read the whole article, go to: https://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/this-book-taught-bill-gates-to-be-less-socially-awkward-it-can-do-same-for-you



  • to sand – to make something smooth by rubbing it with something rough, especially sandpaper (= strong paper with sand attached to it)
  • rough edges – if something such as a product, a piece of work or a performance has rough edges, some parts of it could be improved
  • slant – a position or direction that is sloping; to lean in a diagonal direction
  • attuned – able to understand or recognize something



Practice makes perfect

Five sentences have been removed from the text below.

Choose from the sentences a)-e) the one which fits each gap.

In today’s fast-paced world, success in the workplace requires more than just technical expertise and knowledge. As the nature of work continues to evolve, it is important for individuals to possess attributes and abilities that allow them to collaborate with teams and colleagues—otherwise known as soft skills. (…)

Here’s a look at the essential soft skills that companies value the most.


Effective communication is essential to build strong relationships with colleagues, clients and stakeholders. 1. …………………………………. .  Employers want people who can build professional relationships with colleagues, which is especially important when working with teams. (…)


A good leader has the ability to inspire their team to achieve greatness. They are able to set a clear vision, communicate it effectively and create a culture of accountability and excellence. More importantly, 2. ……………………….. (…)


Teamwork involves the ability to work with others toward a shared goal. 3. ………………………………. . Individuals who are able to work collaboratively with others are more likely to achieve their professional goals, and to contribute to the success of their organizations. (…)


Creativity involves the ability to think outside the box and  4. ……………………….. . Needless to say, it requires a mindset of curiosity, risk-taking and a willingness to embrace ambiguity and uncertainty. (…)

Time management

Time management involves the ability to set priorities, organize tasks and allot time across different activities. It requires discipline and a 5. …………………………… . (…)


a) It requires communication, collaboration and a shared commitment to work in a group.

b) willingness to avoid distractions and low-priority tasks.

c) Not only does this involve the ability to convey messages in a clear and compelling way, but also the ability to understand the needs of others and respond to feedback.

d) come up with ideas that challenge assumptions.

e) they’re able to inspire and influence team members to achieve shared goals and objectives.


Key: 1c); 2e); 3a); 4d); 5.b)

In order to read the whole article, go to: https://www.forbes.com/advisor/business/soft-skills-examples/


Use the words in bold to fill in the sentences gaps :


crummy                admission             demeanour                     attuned

             rough edges                 inept                 slant

1. A good nurse has to be ……….. to the needs of his or her patients

2. She ………… her body toward him and met his gaze.

3. The house is so old and ……….. it’s falling apart.

4. With his serious …………. , many took him to be much older.

5. Age and experience have softened his ……………. .

6. We were really worried about his ………. handling of the team.

7. She wanted some ……… of guilt from her brother.


Key: 1. attuned; 2. slanted; 3. crummy; 4. demeanour; 5. rough edges; 6. inept; 7. admission



Watch and revise!

Polishing your social skills: from awkward to attuned!