Mentoring has been a big part of my life for over 10 years. I’ve found it an amazing way to share my experience with others while also receiving so much back, as it’s a wonderful two way process. I’ve learned new skills, gained knowledge about others and myself and found it rewarding on so many levels. As we celebrate National Mentoring Day this week, I wanted to mark the occasion by sharing some of the things I’ve picked up over the years.
One of the first and toughest skills I have learnt has been the art of listening. It’s so crucial and often underestimated. I often think in today’s busy world people don’t take the time to listen, but when you do it provides a different perspective on life: you can learn, guide and advise people from a more informed position. It’s a life skill that’s worth investing in.
Hand in hand with listening is being human. I know this sounds strange but I think we sometimes forget that people are still people when they are put into work environments. If you overlook a person as a whole you may miss out on key information and won’t understand them as a rounded person. Understanding people’s human qualities allows you to develop them further.
So you’re ready to listen and understand people as humans, now you need to establish trust and respect as these are paramount in mentoring. Without these two qualities neither the mentee nor mentor are going to have a successful or fulfilling relationship. They are the foundations that you can build your relationship on.
To establish and sustain mentoring both parties need to be committed. Often meetings and catch ups happen outside of work hours or during lunch breaks so it’s important that time is used well and everyone keeps to meeting dates and times. If you’re committed to making it work, you’ll find it so worthwhile.
The more I write about mentoring, the more I realise that the list of skills and ‘top tips’ gets longer, but the main thing I want to do is encourage everyone to mentor or become a mentee. I’ve really enjoyed nurturing people, many of whom I now call friends, and I definitely believe the skills you learn help you in life. Everyone has experiences and knowledge to share so put yourself out there, empower yourself and others.