August 19, 2013

Effective Mentoring – Visualizing and the Right Questions

Doug Lawrence






I had an awesome experience the other day that I wanted to share with you. I met an awesome young professional for a coffee so that we could get to know each other and decide if there was chemistry between us to form a trusted relationship. Over the course of my career I have been blessed with the opportunity to have developed communication skills that has served me well. I have also been fortunate to continue to work with a Professor at the University of Regina that has helped me develop mental imagery skills. You are probable thinking to yourself where is he going with this. Mental imagery skills help me prepare for a meeting – that could be a meeting with a perspective client or a potential mentee. I think of how the conversation may go and what the outcomes are that I would like to see. I visualize that taking place and what my responses will be to various questions and statements that may take place. I visualize the conversation taking a number of different paths and I see what my responses will be to each of those situations. As you can well imagine we can’t imagine all the paths that the conversation will take but this technique helps you be more flexible and able to think on your feet quicker. It is a technique that we have built into our program. All of this helps in determining whether or not there is the right degree of chemistry to begin the journey to a trusted relationship. All of this helped in my meeting with this young professional.

Visualizing a conversation is one thing albeit an important piece to the puzzle. Understanding what are the right questions to be asking is yet another. The questions that you will ask will be determined by the different paths that your conversation may take. The key though is to always frame your statements as much as you can in the context of a question. I am asked frequently are there ever times when you would tell someone the answer or tell them what to do. You can guide them to an answer through framing it as a question – “What would happen if you were to do XXXXXX”. You have provided some of the answer for them but you have also framed it in the context of a question guiding them to understand what the outcomes might be. You are challenging their critical thinking skills by doing so. If you were to simply provide them with the answer and the outcomes you would shift accountability from them to you and that is not what you want.

The conversation I had with the young professional followed much the same path. It was an emotional journey for the two of us as we began to better understand each other and we shared various emotions as we discussed things that we may not have shared with anyone else. Our conversation was guided by my listening for the trigger words that would frame the questions that needed to be asked resulting in the young professional discovering the answers. What an emotional reward for me as I shared the gift of mentoring with an awesome person. Have you embraced the “power of mentoring”? Can you afford not to?


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