Getting Others to Open Up to You
You can’t be an effective mentor unless others are willing to share concerns with you. You probably know someone who you turn to for serious concerns and others who you would never be open with. Here are ways to get people to open up to you.
- Emphasize at every meeting that thoughts they share with you will be kept confidential. You have to be very diligent to keep this promise. When you think the concern is so serious that you would like to reach out to others to help, ask if you can talk with others confidentially about the concern.
- Learn how to be an active listener. One of the most important things you can do is to just let your advisee talk. Don’t interrupt. Ask follow up questions.
- When you meet, find a location where you can have a quiet, unhurried conversation. In spite of advances in technology, real conversation still needs to be face to face.
- People are more inclined to be open with you when you are open to them. Should someone describe an issue they are having that you also experienced, share with them your own story. This will make it easier to get them to tell you the full story.
- After the conversation, continue to follow up. Ask how your advisee is doing. Ask if there is anything you can do to help.
There are definite positives and negatives to being the person whom others can talk to. The positive is that you can develop an amazingly devoted group of employees, because they know that you really care. The negative is that there will be days when you are just overwhelmed by the issues that others face. But even these negatives can lead to a sense that you made a difference.