One important skill that I contribute to any organization is my emotional intelligence and passion for building connections with people. As a Peer Mentor with the Speaking, Arguing, and Writing (SAW) Center at Mount Holyoke College, I rapidly gained a sense what my mentees needed from me – which often required gauging the ‘question behind the question.’ I also used my brief glimpse into the mentee’s temperament and current state to decide – often within a minute of the mentoring session – how I would approach the session. With a mentee who seemed tense because of an upcoming deadline, I tried to be calm and speak softly, and give the mentee the space to verbalize their thoughts. On the other hand, with a mentee who needed more guidance but seems emotionally collected, I would ask detailed questions and strategize on a plan of action for their assignment. I was after all a peer, and my ability to combine both warmth and professional communication enabled me to fulfill my dual duties as a peer and a mentor.
In my role as a Harriet Newhall Interviewing Fellow at the Office of Admission, I relied on my intuitive understanding and communication skills to glean, rather than provide, the information I need to assess their candidacy for admission to the college. By paying close attention to their verbal language as well as their subtle body language, I acquired a sense of the aspects they wanted to talk about, as well as those that they did not. With an interviewee who seemed eager to jump into the details of their leadership positions at their high school, I make it a point to give them the space to elaborate upon this, and I also spoke about opportunities for leadership at the college. If the interviewee spoke extensively about their high school teachers and parents, I was sure to talk about guided opportunities for growth, mentioning resources such as Advising, Counseling, and peer groups on campus.
Whether in these professional realms within the gates of Mount Holyoke, or in my personal experiences outside of them, my sensitivity and compassion enrich my conversations with people and enable me to optimize my social interactions.