As you are starting your mentoring year, remember the importance of building trust with your mentee. Even if you have known your mentee for multiple years, you are still working to gain their trust. Building trust takes time and the amount of time varies for each relationship.
Here are tips to help build trust:
- Be fully present with your mentee. Do your best to avoid being distracted by thoughts of work, home, or your own family. Turn off cell phones and other electronic devices. Be “in the moment” and enjoy the mentoring experience.
- See your mentee as a person. Your mentee is not a project, and you are not there to “straighten them out.” This means getting to know the mentee first, and then responding according to who s/he is. Encourage him/her in his/her unique and gifted areas.
- Be consistent. A big trust-builder is consistency. Always show up for scheduled meetings, keep your promises and notify your mentee if there is a change in plans.
- Be yourself. Don’t try to come off as the “perfect adult” in the mentee’s life. Youth see through adults. Be authentic.
- Set a good example. Be an example of a trustworthy person. For instance, don’t divulge things that others told you in confidence. Don’t “fudge” the rules of the program. Your mentee notices everything you do.
- Involve the mentee. Both should decide how you will spend your time. Pay attention to the youth’s need for fun – it will keep the youth engaged.
- Listen. Always listen to the mentee’s complaints, and don’t put the mentee down for feeling what s/he feels. Respect his/her point of view. You’re hearing about the world he/she lives in – soak it up.
- Be empathetic. Use as much empathy as possible, saying things like “that must be difficult” or “I know that’s tough, I have to obey similar rules at work.”