Mentoring is a partnered learning process. The critical element that can “make or break” the partnership is the kinship that is kindled amongst the mentor and the mentee.By rapport we are referring to actions that create a bond that rests on the strong foundation of trust and security. The basic building block for any relationship should always be trust and understanding, never insecurity or fear. The relationship between a mother and a child – one of the first that any human being has in life is one such. As a human being progresses in life , moving from dependence to independence, lessons in rejection, fear ,discomfort and pain makes them stronger. Here are a few tips to be a better mentor by establishing trust and rapport.
Rapport in mentoring also follows a similar journey – one that starts with trust and dependence, moves through challenges , learns from them and culminates in independence. The tone set during the first meeting would determine how the relationship between the mentor and the mentee takes off. The protégé enters into a mentoring partnership with a mask that arises from being unsure of the consequences of the whole exercise. The onus of reassuring the protégé and making him comfortable and secure rests on the mentor and this first step is crucial. But there is no cause if the first meeting doesn’t turn out to be great. I’m sure we all have built great friendships where day – one started on shaky ground. The same holds good with a mentoring partnership as well.
Establishing rapport with an unknown person is easier said than done. For kindling the embers of trust and kinship from the first meeting it is important to identify the areas of rapport which needs to be focussed on. We shall call it the four components – communicating in the same platform, gifting gestures and being attentive to feelings .
Breaking the hierarchy
The protégé walks into the first mentoring with a lot of unanswered questions. Am I going to be judged? Is this situation embarrassing? What if I don’t do well? The underlying apprehension can be overcome in a minute through a welcoming gesture from the mentor. The protégé from the first minute should be reassured of the fact that the mentoring process is to happen on a level play- ground. Positive gestures like a smile, a warm handshake, eye contact, personalised greeting, reference to each other by first names etc can set the right tone indicating that there is no hierarchy or level in mentoring.
Sense of abundance
A lot of mentors make the classic mistake of starting off on a warm note, but become serious and grave as the session gains momentum. It is important to take that camaraderie and warmth and camaraderie forward at least till the protégé is accepting and trusting to create positive learning ambience in mentoring. Moving the mentoring session to a less formal environment like a coffee-shop, or passing a round of chocolates at the start of the session as a ritual can lighten the mood and give an impression of a “not – so serious” mentoring session. Gifting gestures from the mentor gives out positive messages and dissolves any inhibitions that they protégé may have about the mentor being “ dangerous”.
A great mentor will be extremely conscious of the mentees reactions and would use the learning to relate to their feelings. A fruitful mentoring partnership is one where the protégé is made to feel at ease. The mentor has to put all efforts to ensure that the protégé feels that he/she is the most important person in the room. Unconditional positive regard for feelings right from the gestation stage of the relationship is what can create a long standing impact of positivity setting the pace for a good kinship.
There is no right or wrong approach to build a great mentoring kinship. Using these components as pointers each mentor can devise a plan for rapport building based on what the mentoring objective is. What is the approach that you want to adopt?