Fostering a Mentoring Relationship

Jeanette Cullen, DC, BA

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Building a Mentoring Relationship  Mentoring Functions

– Listening, Counseling, Coaching, Educating, Sponsoring and Role Modeling

Mentor Benefits

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Becoming a Mentor/Friend  Mentoring Functions  Mentoring Skills  Establishing Trust  Building Relationships

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Developing a Mentor-Mentee Relationship  Mentoring takes time, patience and understanding for the pieces to fall into place

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Mentee – a youth receiving the benefits of a mentor  Mentor – a trusted counselor or guide, tutor or coach

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What does it take to become a mentor?

 

Mentors are experienced, wise people who are willing to advise and encourage a younger person. A mentor may make the difference in success or failure of a mentee. Research has shown that “achievers are influenced by specific people in their lives far more than underachievers, that whether or not young people succeed depends in great part on individuals who help them establish values and who inspire effort.” (Mahoney 1983)
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Mentors can help young people
Increase self-esteem & self-confidence  Develop communication, listening & socialization skills  Develop friendships  Motivate and reach personal achievements  Make decisions  Develop respect for self and others  Achieve many other goals

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Effective Mentoring
Maintain a steady presence in a youth’s life  Respect the youth’s viewpoint  Pay attention to the kids’ need for fun  Get to know your mentee’s family, but do not become too involved with them  Seek and use the advice of the program staff

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Who becomes a mentor?

Any mature, caring person who has enough time and energy in his/her life to share with a youth can become a mentor. To be a mentor you must enjoy sharing your knowledge, skills, abilities and insight with a youth.

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Mentoring is a Satisfying and Rewarding Experience
Most mentors learn or gain something personally from their mentoring experience, including feeling that they were a better person, increased patience, friendship, a feeling of effectiveness and new skills.  Mentors develop self-sufficiency as well as increasing their own interpersonal and problem solving skills.

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Mentoring Functions

Listening – The most important function of the mentor may be to listen. Many youth do not have anyone at home who is willing and able to listen to what they have to say. Youth are often able to sort out their own problems and arrive at their own solutions just by having someone with whom to “talk out” the situation.
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Mentoring Functions (cont)

Counseling – Through discussion mentors can help youth gain a different perspective of their problems and their own abilities to deal successfully with them. Coaching – Giving advice and providing feedback are important as a youth takes on new challengers. Coaches can give praise for a job well done, encouragement when the going gets tough, and constructive criticism when changes need to be made. It is always easier to deal with the negatives when you know there are some positives.
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Mentoring Functions (cont)

Educating – A mentor is also a teacher. While it may be easier to do things for a youth who is struggling with a problem, the youth will benefit greater if he/she is able to handle the problem himself/herself. One way to empower a youth is to teach them the skills to take care of themselves. Sponsoring – Mentors can help open doors for youth by introducing them to new people, activities and organizations. Opportunities for a youth to meet new people and explore new situations may open new horizons.
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Mentoring Functions (cont)
Role Modeling – Mentors can help their proteges develop values, standards and goals by allowing themselves to be seen as “real people” and by sharing personal beliefs and values. Mentors may also introduce or expose their proteges to others that they hold in high regard.
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Mentoring Skills
 

Good Communication – Being able to listen effectively and respond in a way that the youth will listen. Good Listener – Being quiet while someone else is talking does not constitute good listening. Real listening occurs when you are trying to understand someone, learn something from someone or help someone express their thoughts and feelings. Good listeners maintain eye contact, reinforce the speaker by nodding and paraphrasing and asks questions to clarify what the speaker said.
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Mentoring Skills (cont)
Send a Good Message – When you communicate, you must be aware of yourself. What are you observing? What are you thinking? How are you feeling? What do you want to happen? What do you need to communicate? What is the purpose of the communication?
– You must be aware of the other person. How is he/she feeling? Is he/she able to listen to what you have to say?
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Mentoring Skills (cont)
– Awareness of the environment is important. Serious messages should be given when you are alone with no distractions. – Use clear messages that accurately reflect your thoughts, feelings, wants and observations. Don’t make assumptions that other people know what you think, want or feel.

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Mentoring Skills (cont)

Knowing the Roadblocks to Good Communication – Often, it is our initial response that either encourages or discourages communication. The first words spoken will either turn a person off or invite a person to talk about ideas, feelings or attitudes. A good opener is a noncommittal response like: “I see” or “Is that so?” To invite a person to say more, use a non-threatening response like, “Tell me more” or “I’d like to hear what you have to say.”

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Behaviors to Avoid
Ordering, Directing, Commanding  Warning, Admonishing, Threatening  Moralizing, Exhorting, Preaching  Advising, Giving Solutions or Suggestions  Lecturing, Teaching, Giving Logical Arguments  Judging, Criticizing, Disagreeing, Blaming

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Behaviors to Avoid (cont)
Praising, Agreeing  Name Calling, Ridiculing, Shaming  Interpreting, Analyzing, Diagnosing  Reassuring, Sympathizing, Consoling, Supporting  Probing, Questioning, Interrogating  Withdrawing, Distracting, Humoring, Diverting

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Establishing Trust

The key to creating effective mentoring relationships lies in the development of trust. Learning to trust, especially for youth who have been let down before, requires time; youth cannot be expected to trust their mentor simply because the program staff put them together. Establishing communication and developing a relationship can often be a difficult process. Mentors who follow a gradual path in building trust find that the types of support they can offer, and that will be accepted, broaden considerably once trust has been established.
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Establishing Trust (cont)

Mentors who focus first on building trust and becoming a friend to their mentee tend to be more effective than those who immediately try to change or reform their mentee. Adults whose attention is concentrated on reforming youth are often frustrated by their lack of receptivity.

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Building Relationships

Volunteers who take the time to develop real relationships with youth are much more likely to promote the changes that are expected to occur. Mentors make a commitment to being consistent and dependable, to maintaining a steady presence in the youth’s life. Mentors recognize that the relationship may be fairly one-sided and take responsibility for keeping the relationship alive.

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Building Relationships (cont)
Mentors respect the youth’s viewpoint. Effective mentors are open and flexible; they listen to what the youth have to say and pay attention to what they think is important.  Mentors involve the youth in deciding how the pair will spend their time together.  Mentors pay attention to kids need for fun.

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Building Relationships (cont)

Things to avoid in building a relationship
– Avoid not meeting on a regular and consistent basis, demanding that the youth play and equal role in initiating contact. – Avoid attempting to instill a set of values that may be different from or inconsistent with those the youth is exposed to at home. – Avoid attempting to transform or reform the youth by setting tasks and adopting parental or authoritative role.
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Building Relationships (cont)
– Avoid emphasizing behavior changes over developing mutual trust and respect in the relationship.

Mentors are more effective when they see themselves as “friends” rather than teachers or parents and define their role in supporting the youth in a variety of ways. The key to creating effective mentoring relationships lies in the development of trust, which takes a substantial amount of time.
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Mentoring is a matter of TRUST  Mentoring is a powerful tool for helping youth fulfill their potential  Mentoring is a rewarding experience  Developing a trusting relationship takes time, allow that to happen

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Where to Get More Information
Attend future training sessions  Attend mentor support nights  Discuss any concerns with program staff  Ask questions

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