In order for a mentoring relationship to thrive there needs to be communication between the two parties. Effective communication takes into account a number of variables. It can include the aspect of listening and hearing. All too often we may be listening but we are not actually hearing the message that is being delivered. I am sure that you can recall a time where you appeared to be paying attention when someone was talking to you, but yet you were millions of miles away. Chances are you were abruptly brought back to earth and reprimanded for not paying attention. Effective communication takes into account listening for trigger words in a conversation, or deflections when you may have touched on an open nerve and the question is being avoided. The reflective process is part of Effective Communication. This can be reflecting back on a conversation you just had and asking yourself what went well, what didn’t go well, and what am I going to do differently next time. You may also want to forward reflect and think about a conversation you are going to have. Think of some of the questions and how you might respond to those questions. Think of some of the directions the conversation could go in and then figure out what your strategy might be. This utilizes mental imagery and visualization skill sets to help you in the forward reflection. It is an awesome tool that you can use in other ways as well.
One area that we don’t do very well in are conversations that become heated or are crucial conversations. We so desperately want to be the winner in these situations and you need to ask yourself if this is the hill that you wish to die on. One of the techniques I share with people is my “lock, load and fire” technique. What I share is that before you “lock, load and fire” what you are thinking of saying you need to take that pause and think on how this conversation is going to be received. If there are any doubts in your mind about how it might be perceived then you need to take your finger off the trigger and regroup. I have seen far too many relationships that go south because of poor communication skill sets and letting emotions get the best of us.
In the mentoring process we need to develop and utilize advanced skill sets in communicating effectively. It is an integral part of the mentoring relationship and one of the fundamentals to a successful relationship. If we practice this on a daily/regular basis we can become quite skilled at communicating effectively. Effective communication is a skill set that is transferable. All the work that you put in to be able to use this in the workplace you can also put it to good use in your family conversations and in conversations you have in the community you live in. Take the time to develop this skill set and it will serve you well. Effective communication and trusted relationships equal a great mentoring experience!