Tuesday, January 21, 2014

EVO Mentoring blog post 1 of 2: Skills for Mentors

This is part one of a two-part post.

I have read the "Learning Guide for Mentors" assigned by the EVO 2014 Mentoring leaders.

These are the points that stood out for me; this isn't intended as a full summary of the Guide.

Key mentoring skills
  • I find the ideas of generative (Scharmer) and empathic (Covey) listening intriguing, but almost too abstract to grasp (page 4)
    • Generative listening seems to be about the future. How can I simultaneously listen and anticipate a mentee's (another person's) future speech? Why should I?
    • Empathic listening involves both heart and mind. Can it still be non-judgmental?
      • Covey says empathic listening figures when there is high emotion, stress in a relationship, low trust, etc.- this chimes with plenty of other sources on assertiveness, dealing with conflict, etc. It's good.
  • Observation (page 8)
    • Reflective thinking means slow down and be aware of your assumptions.
    • Reflective thinking is an important mentoring skill!
    • You have to be open-minded if you want to be a mentor: that's what reflective thinking does
  • Reflective questions (page 11)
    • plural forms signal there is more than one option
    • tentative language means ideas are open to interpretation
    • enabling language, for example "Given what you know about...."
    • empowering presuppositions, for example: "what goals do you have in mind?"
    • critical inquiry about a situation: a) what is true? b) what don't we know? c) what is impossible to know? d) what can we do to test our mental models? (page 24)
Sometimes the reflection is you!


  1. Dear Mary,
    Thank you so much for sharing these deep reflections and challenging questions.
    As far as I can understand generative listening as described by Scharmer implies inferences the listener can make from words, body language, ways of speaking, all none verbal communication aspects. Basically making assumptions which might lead the mentor to understand and empathise with the mentee. Empathic listening should be non judgemental as I understand; otherwise we could manipulate the mentee.
    I hope we can bring your questions to more open discussion. Thanks for your questions they are helping me learn and re question my assumptions.

  2. Interesting post Mary, I will have to give more thought to both observation as well as to the reflective questions. Excellent to keep in mind when working as usual but doing some meta self-observation.