I think it's fair to say that one of the most important parts of any relationship, be it personal or business, is communication. A lack of effective communication is usually the exact issue that causes a relationship to deteriorate, especially between a mentor and mentee.
A successful Mentor/Mentee relationship should consist of coaching, giving advice, support, motivation, a sense of diction, and goals to achieve. Afterall, the overarching goal is for the mentee to find success. As such, communication skills are one of the most important leadership characteristics for an effective mentoring relationship.
One thing that we tend to forget about communication skills are that they are simply that, skills. Like any skill, they need to be worked on and improve with time. With that in mind, I wanted to explore what I feel are the key Communication Skills For Effective Mentors.
Listening Is Just As Important As Speaking.
Listening is a valuable skill to have in all aspects of life, but, the reality is that most of us fail to actually listen to the person speaking to us. We hear them, but most times we are really just waiting for our turn to talk.
While waiting to talk, we may even toss out little comments like "yep" "uh huh" "sounds good to give the impression that we are listening. Those little filler words that you say while you're thinking of your response. That's just human nature. To that end, listening is one of the most important but oddly underutilized communication skills that there is.
To be an effective mentor, you need to actually listen to your mentee. This means, first and foremost, giving your mentee your undivided attention. Mute and put away your phone (trust me, I know that's hard in this day and age) or any paperwork or what not. Remember, your mentee isn't coming to you to have a casual chat about the latest movie, they want actual (potentially) life-altering advice.
If you aren't able to meet face to face, try to arrange a zoom/video call as opposed to a phone call. Yes, most of us are sick of video calls. The logic behind encouraging a video chat over a phone call is that it helps both of you to feel more connected when you actually see each other in real-time, as opposed to just in voices. Actually seeing the person you are speaking to allows you to pick up on body language as well.
Give & Ask For Constructive Feedback
There are, of course, some situations when a phone call is the only possible form of communication. In situations like that, it's especially important to avoid conversational filler-type words like mentioned above.
Instead, ask them questions and comments based on specific points that they are discussing. This is also a great way to provide feedback. Not only are you using this specific communication skill to help your mentee, but you are also teaching them the skill and value of listening to understand and not just to respond.
Also, keep in mind that feedback is for improvement. You never want to make your mentee feel discouraged. Give a good amount of positive feedback to help motivate them, as well as feedback that can be used for their betterment. Remember, honesty is the best policy.
Adjust Your Communication Style
Mentorship is all about building strong relationships. The first step to building that relationship is getting to really know one another. Getting to know your mentee means you are also getting to know their communication style. After all, it’s important to remember that communication also comes in different styles!
You want to adjust how you converse with them to better fit their communication personality. Think of this personality as the language someone speaks, their word choices, and even their formality.
Is your mentee a passive or assertive communicator? Do they prefer verbal, nonverbal or visual communication? Figuring out your mentee’s preferred style will make your conversations more easygoing, help you both better understand one another, and build that comfortability.
As you can see there is a lot that goes into the communication between a mentor and a mentee. At MicroMentor alone, we have seen the benefits that successful mentorships can bring. Including the fact that in business, 21% of mentored entrepreneurs have experienced a positive change in their revenue.
We really hope that you found our tips both useful and informative. Even if you aren’t a mentor yourself, we hope that you found the information valuable. Visit our Sign Up page to begin fostering your effective mentoring relationship, using your effective communication skills!