Like any relationship, the mentor-mentee dynamic is at its best when both parties are feeling understood. Taking the time to practice active listening is a great way to show your mentee you are deeply engaged.
Practice Active Listening
Active listening is a technique of listening and response that improves mutual understanding. It is also skill that requires practice!
Active listening includes things like asking relevant questions, noticing your mentee’s body language, practicing open-mindedness, and providing feedback by reflecting on what has been said.
Asking clarifying questions and summarizing what the speaker is saying are great ways to illustrate that you are actively listening.
Active Listening Tips:
- Make eye contact, and face your mentee
Being physically “present” is an important indication that you are listening. Try to avoid checking your phone or turning your body away. Open posture is helpful too- try to avoid crossing arms and legs so you don’t look closed off!
- Look for non-verbal cues
It can be helpful to read between the lines by looking for facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice, which can tell you about how your mentee is feeling while they speak.
- Don’t interrupt
Interruption can make a mentee feel that they aren’t important, or that you don’t have time for them! If you’re quick to speak, make a mental note to allow time for your mentee to finish first.
- Don’t start planning what to say next, don’t judge or jump to conclusions
Focus on listening in the moment, and avoid planning your response or trying to anticipate what your mentee will say.
- Stay focused, and show that you’re listening
Nod, smile, and make affirmative noises. Try to avoid fidgeting and checking your watch.
- Paraphrase and summarize
Repeating back what you’ve heard is a great way to show that you’ve understood. You don’t need to get it word-for-word, but summarizing the overall idea is key. You could try by starting a sentence with, “It sounds like you are saying…”
Developing active listening skills is a win-win for everyone. Listening is one of the most important skills you can have!
Stay tuned for future editions of Mentorship Tip of the Month. If you have any questions or comments, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.