Learning partners: mentor and mentee partnership
During National Mentoring Month, we're looking at different aspects of mentoring. Today we look at the most important thing a mentor can do: listen.

It’s National Mentoring Month, all month, so it’s a good time to consider best practices in mentoring. One of the things we’ve found as we train our Kars4Kids mentors is that there is an eagerness to help and to do. But actually one of the most important things a mentor can do is to be still long enough to listen.

It seems counterintuitive sometimes to just be quiet. But just as the quiet begs you to fill the air with sound, so it encourages the mentee to speak, too. Should the mentor remain quiet, the mentee will discover an opportunity to describe his worries, fears, and whatever obstacles stand in the way of achievement.

This is the information that you, as a mentor, need to help your mentee, but it is information not easily come by. You have to be willing to push down your ego, be patient, and well, keep your mouth shut. If you hold out long enough, it’ll happen: the mentee will open up to you.

We’ve seen it again and again.

A mentor may think he has to solve every problem, get involved and do things for the mentee. But the most important thing a mentor can do is to really get a sense of the mentee and understand what it is he or she is feeling. You may not be able to fix your mentee’s largest looming issues. But just by listening and understanding, you are offering your support and your strength to help your mentee make it through.

Sometimes, not much else is needed.

Of course, you’d never know that unless you were quiet long enough to give your mentee the space to speak and the inestimable gift of listening and understanding.



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