Mentoring is learning in its rawest form. A one –to – one process the protege stands fully exposed and vulnerable making it a highly awkward and embarrassing experience. And the partnership is not one that assures success adding to the discomfort. However true learning can happen only when people move out of their comfort zone.
For an adult this is easier said than done. The whole thought of budging from the comfort zone creates a feeling of panic – generally arising from the risk of failure. But then success is always an end product of multiple failures. On top tip for being a mentor is to foster acceptance which is the key to courage in mentoring.
The mentor has to instill the courage in the mentee to fight battles , take failure at face value, learn from them and move on till the destination is reached. Courage is a virtue which cannot be given but needs to be found.
Every individual has courage hidden in the realms of their personality and the mentor just helps the protege to unearth it. This can be done through unconditional acceptance of the protege- displaying utmost respect , support and regard to everything that the protege does.
No facilitation can be more effective than personal example. The mentor instills courage and confidence in the mind of the protégé by displaying the traits in every aspects of the partnership. The mentor becomes a prototype demonstrating whatever is expected from the protégé during the mentoring session.
A protege who is reluctant to change may take this as a cue, since the demonstration clearly indicates the resulting transformation. Getting the protege to teach the mentor something that they are not aware of is an example of a confidence building exercise. Partnering in exercises can be another way of instilling courage.
A protege always sees the mentor as a critical judge of their capabilities and dwells on the fear that their weaknesses are going to explode at some point of time. In fact , for the protege the exercise is most often a long wait for “that” dreaded moment.
Every comment or passing statement that a mentor makes, irrespective of how genuine it is may be viewed critically. This is why mentors must master the art of judgement free communication. Using a warm tone of acceptance in every message can work as an antidote to the insecurities lurking in the minds of the protege.
Every word should reaffirm the fact that the protege is normal and legitimate in their views and that those are being accepted unconditionally. The mentor gets to the same level as the protege by being transparent in their communication and by making their vulnerabilities visible.
However , this should not be misread as patronizing. Any affirmation or appreciation that a mentor offers to a mentee has to be rational, supported by ample proof. The communication should be objective as well as factual and straightforward. The key is to encourage the mentee to come out with solutions by framing questions the right way.
Read on to know how to frame the right questions to enrich the mentoring experience.