Most of us would listen patiently to our spouses or to our kids. But we hardly have the same patience at work. Leaders who have been given a “C” in listening at work transform into attentive listeners when their eight years comes home with a complaint about a fight with the neighbor’s kid.
In fact most people become active listeners with kids totally devoid of fake attitudes and stripped of ego. Why is it that we are different with our kids? One reason could be the level of importance we attribute to the other person. A top tip to mentors – lend a listening ear.
A mentor should give the mentee the importance they deserve. Most of our problems in communication arise from our inability to listen well. When an individual is unable to offer undivided attention to a conversation , finer details which are important may be missed out.
This in turn impacts the flow of the conversation and reduces its overall effectiveness. What needs to be done is to consciously conclude that every conversation is important and deserves the same level of listening.
Listening is vital to a fruitful mentoring program. If the mentor is able to listen well and design questions based on the answers of earlier ones , then the conversation progresses in the right direction.
The rapt attention of the mentor also conveys the message of the level of importance the process holds to the mentor to the protege , which in turn would increase the value perception of the exercise in his mind. Dedicated listening would required the mentor to put away all other burning issues in the back burner during the course of the mentoring program and focus totally on the “now”.
One way to distract yourself from distractions and focus on the task at hand is to convince yourself that there is nothing that is more important. Imagine that you have always wanted to meet Bill Gates. If you were to get five minutes with someone as important as him would you be distracted by what’s happening on the personal or professional front. Imagine that the mentoring program that you have undertaken in something similar, Treat it with the same priority and give it the importance you would give for a meeting with your “hero”.
If you are genuinely pre-occupied, and feel that you may not be able to offer undivided attention to the mentee, then communicate the same and keep the session at a time when you can concentrate fully on the exercise without giving it a grudge.
Make it obvious to the protege through either the conversation or body language that you are listening. You could ask your protege to point it out to you if at any point in time they feel you may be distracted. Give them the freedom and acknowledge the fact when being pointed out with a smile. This will take the conversation to a different level altogether. It would also be good to reiterate what the protege said just to ensure that the message has been received in the right note. This will ensure complete understanding of each other.