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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

When I moved to Gainesville, I was faced with the one thing that every student either fears or looks forward to, starting over. I left my friends, family, and normal routines. However after acclimating to college life, I started over by making new friends and new routines. I talked to people, I sat with the students who ate alone at lunch, mingled with people in the elevator and engaged in friendly conversation with the person walking in front of me to class.

Some may say it’s creepy and awkward, but I’ve met my closest friends at UF by just talking to them. And that’s not the only thing. Through communication, I’ve received amazing job opportunities and experiences. I’m not saying to talk to every person you see, but by being friendly and open, opportunities become available.

On Oct. 17, I had the pleasure of talking to University of Florida alum Dennis Driscoll, who owed his success and accomplishments to the communication skills that he has learned over time. “The most important thing to learn in your college education is the ability to communicate in both the spoken and written word,” said Driscoll.  Dennis Driscoll graduated from the University of Florida in 1965 with a major in industrial management and a minor in insurance.

After college, he ventured on to a variety of businesses, gaining knowledge in different fields as well as communication skills. Still active in a number of businesses including a major international corporation, Driscoll explained how the key of success is through the simple task of communicating with others.

“Each step along the way, I did it based on relationships and based on what other people’s needs were,” he said.

He then explained how through first impressions, an employer or anyone in particular can observe how one reacts personally and socially with a shorthand personal analysis called “disc.” If you break it down, each letter represents specific characteristics of a person’s personality.

D-people who are blunt, formal and impatient

I-People who like to joke, laugh and seek social approval

S-People who are productive, make lists and very structured

C- People who are compliant, perfectionists and concise

The characteristics  can relate to any one. When Driscoll meets an interviewee or visits an office, he immediately categorizes people under these characteristics. This is not a bad thing or a means of judging, but goes back to idea of how first impressions count.

How one presents themself and communicates goes along with their merits and job experience. “Over the years, I’ve hired an awful a lot of college students, I’ve hired an awful a lot of people and they’re smart as anything but they can’t communicate with others because they don’t understand how they make their decisions. Once you understand who you are, once you observe and understand how other people are, then you can communicate with them better than anyone can. You can direct a conversation,” Driscoll said. 

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So keep this in mind when you’re sitting by yourself across another person who is also just waiting. Maybe they don’t want to talk, but if you do, it may open opportunities, keep you entertained or maybe even earn you a new friend.

“You can communicate by just observing who they are and how they react in their work and personal environment. Those are just people skills,” Driscoll said.

“I learned these things along with building relationships with success. I just retired two years ago. I  built a company that just did $130 million in revenue. And I still work 60 hours a week," he said. "But I am able to support my family and help others because I communicate. I know when to talk and I know when to shut up and listen. “

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