When it comes to finding a career that’s right for you and good for the world, you have to know your strengths.  A key to the success of our Echoing Green Fellows, for example, is their ability to uncover and focus on what they rock at.  (They often fill in the holes in their expertise by supplementing them with talented people on their team.) It’s a simple formula for impact. With that in mind, we want to know, what are you good at?

Photo: joelkelly


I am best at connecting with others. It takes no major skills—it simply requires interest. You can look at the masses of people around you as faceless and disposable, or as treasures waiting to be discovered. I tend to look at others and see the good in them—but even before that, I yearn to connect with people. If no one tried to connect with anyone, we would all be nameless, faceless, soulless strangers. What makes the human race magical is our ability to communicate, emphasize, care for and respect each other—and connect with each other on deep levels.

The reason I am best at it is because I like it, I’m interested in it, and it makes me feel good. This trait of mine is one of the main reasons I was drawn to the field of sociology at the University of Florida. I feel that studying sociology will help me hone the skills and interests I already possess and allow me to help others more effectively. Also, I never knew there were official terms and definitions of the things I observed on a daily basis but could never quite put into words—until I started studying sociology.

Connecting with others is my main strength, and I make it a goal to connect with others on multiple levels. It begins with strangers. I took a class in social deviance for my sociology major and had a life-changing moment when an expert on suicide came to speak at our class. He told us a story (second or third hand, but as jolting as ever) which he learned from a documentary. The story was about a professor whose student committed suicide. I don’t remember 100 percent but I think the professor’s focus was in suicide. Anyway the professor was shown the student’s suicide note. It said something to the effect of “If someone smiles at me on my way to kill myself, I won’t jump.” Since the professor only learned of this after the student’s death, it can only be assumed that no one smiled at him on his way to his death. This account struck a chord in me and ignited my desire to connect with everyone—even strangers. I used to look down or look around on my way to class or work or home. Now I make an effort to look at people and smile as genuinely as possible. I avoid giving fake smiles, so when I’m not in the mood to smile at everyone I simply don’t—but I try to force myself to smile at everyone, because I never know whose life it might save. On a less dramatic note, smiling at others is free and harmless, so why not do it? I think if more people thought like that—thought, why not?—there would be more connections in this world, and greater happiness.

In my classes, I try to connect with those around me by having conversations and making friends in each class. Little things such as maintaining eye contact, positive body language, a smiling face, and a welcoming tone of voice go a long way. Asking questions is an instant way to connect with someone, because it makes others feel interested and therefore fosters connection. Genuineness and interest are two roots that found connection.

In my personal life, I try to take the time to get to know friends on a deeper level than mere acquaintances. I would rather talk with someone face-to-face than on the phone or computer.  In my interactions, I try to consciously do more listening than talking, though it sometimes happens that I do more talking. It makes me feel good to be considered a good friend or a trustworthy person, or a reliable worker or coworker.

What I like best about connecting with others is how simple it is yet how meaningful it can be. It does not require a single material thing. It comes down to being yourself and enjoying the presence of others. And the more we reach out to others, the more we improve ourselves.

 By: Danielle Berkow

Student of: SYA 4110 section 4255 --Development of Sociological Thought with Professor Kristin Joos, Ph.D.

Answered over 2 years ago danielle nicole berkow 6 from United States