13 Nov 3 Tips for Using Active Listening to Create an A+ Mentorship
What skill should both mentors and mentees have in their tool belt? Active Listening! You may have heard this buzzy term before, and I’ll bet it’s gone in one ear and out the other. What’s that called? PASSIVE listening. Life is busy for most of us, and it’s easy to say you’re actively engaged in a conversation. But committing to being in the moment is more than just a zen technique. It will actually make you better at your job.
So strap on your mindfulness cap… it comes with convenient mind-calming aromatherapy and audio plug-ins that drown out extraneous noise! Not really, but one day, it will. Until then, we have some tips for you below. Remember, these apply for both mentors and mentees.
How to be an active listener:
Don’t Multitask! Everything around us has been engineered to encourage us to have at least 10 thoughts running in our heads at once. Did you feed the dog? Is tonight your kid’s soccer game? What will you have for lunch? When will you get to watch the finale of Game of Thrones? WHO HAS TIME FOR GAME OF THRONES!? One way to turn off this loop is by ignoring the tools that distract you. During a mentoring meeting (and for a few minutes before one starts), do NOT check your email, texts, or social media. If you get visible notifications of these on your phone or computer, physically move away from the technology!
Work That Body. Think of active listening like a muscle you need to work to get stronger. If you’re a lifelong passive listener, it’s going to take a little practice to activate those ears. But communication isn’t just about words. By noticing your physical movements and body language, you can make your conversation partner more comfortable. Focusing on your body also roots you in the present. If your mind begins to wander, think about how your body feels and what it is communicating. Make eye contact, sit up tall, and nod your head. Before you know it, you’ll be doing it without even thinking about it!
Tackle One Topic at a Time. Sometimes a conversation can feel chaotic, particularly with a new person. When it’s over, you can’t remember what you even talked about, and no topic gets adequate attention. Making an agenda before even informal meetings can help you to move through the conversation in a timely fashion while focusing on one topic at a time. If you’re an HR or talent administrator, create agendas for your mentors and mentees to help them focus and accomplish knowledge transfer. Allow some time for loose introductions at the beginning, but make sure you’ve predetermined a finite number of topics and time periods that allow for more productive conversation.
eMentorConnect recommends active listening as one of your chief mentoring skills. Check out our website to learn more about how the KNOX platform can provide support for your company’s mentoring program and provide you with essential skills like active listening.