Active listening strategies are particularly useful when your mentee is facing a problem.
Supporting and coaching your mentee to develop strong problem-solving and decision-making skills is one of the most helpful things you can do as a mentor.
To guide your mentee through solving a problem, you can use the following seven problem-solving steps. We describe what you can do as a mentor to help your mentee accomplish each step.
- Clarify what the problem is. Help your mentee determine what the problem is by asking open-ended questions, paraphrasing what you hear, and agreeing together on the essence of the problem.
- Identify and reflect on your feelings about the problem. As a mentor, you can use reflecting to help your mentee to (1) feel heard and comforted by you and (2) become clearer about how the problem is affecting him, which will allow him to make better choices to solve the problem.
- Brainstorm possible approaches to solving the problem.You want to let your mentee know that she is fully capable of coming up with a variety of good ways to solve the problem. If you have a useful suggestion that she hasn’t considered, try asking, “May I offer a suggestion?” rather than sharing your idea before you know she’s open to hearing it.
- Evaluate each approach. Once your mentee has identified possible approaches, help him to think through what might be the consequences of each approach.
- Choose an approach. Allow your mentee the time she needs to choose an approach that she feels is likely to have the best consequences for her and for others who are involved.
- Make a plan. This is the point where your mentee works out the details. If he has decided to have a challenging conversation with someone, you can help by role playing the conversation with him or discussing how the talk is likely to go.
- Follow up and evaluate. The next time you see or talk to your mentee, be sure to ask about how things went and how she feels about it.