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5 Tips for Becoming a Great Mentor

5 Tips for Becoming a Great Mentor

Ask anyone if they want a Mentor and after a few minutes of them thinking about who their own personal “Yoda” could be, they all answer yes. Ask anyone what qualities they should look for in a mentor, for themselves, and the answer becomes a little more convoluted. Follow-up both questions with how they would go about becoming a mentor and you could be waiting for awhile to get an answer back from them.

Being a mentor to someone – whether it be through work, life, sports, etc – is not an easy task. After all, you now have someone looking to you for answers to the questions they have and seeking lifesaving guidance from you on where they should go, what decisions should they make, where should they focus, etc, etc. The questions can be endless.

To top it off, you might be a mentor and not even know it. Sure some positions such as teacher, manager, leader imply that you might be in that position as a result of your employment, but you could have been thrust into this position solely as a result of “being there” or having sat beside a colleague for years or because you took the time to have coffee with that person 3 weeks ago.

Whichever the reason, the fact that you have recognized that you now occupy this role, the problem now becomes – how do you become a great mentor and really help your mentee(s) in guiding them on their path.

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1. Experience

When seeking out a mentor, we seek to find someone who is on a similar path as we are.  Someone who has gone through the ups and downs of what we have and navigated the uncharted waters. They don’t need to have done it all, but they need to have had some experience in where you are going.

This is an asset for any person wanting to be a mentor. For instance, I could not mentor anyone in the field of drawing as I haven’t really achieved anything of significance or invested any time in this field beyond my own interests. As a software developer, I’ve invested countless hours across varieties of projects and platforms that I could very easily slip into that role providing guidance to junior members of our team.

If you are looking to become a mentor, focus on an area or field where you have experience and knowledge to fall back on. As a side benefit to your experience and knowledge, you most likely would have a network of individuals you could call upon should a problem be raised with your Mentee that they might have suggestions for.

2. Listen

We all have our views on the world and we all have a good idea of what does and doesn’t work in our fields of interest.  The Mentor/Mentee relationship is a symbiotic one where it’s not meant to be a completely one-way discussion – “here do this, keep doing this, don’t do what you were going to do”. The goal of the relationship is for the Mentee to learn and grow.

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To do this, you must train yourself to listen to their problems and challenges and suggest courses of action that don’t give them the immediate answer they so insistently desire. Your Mentee cannot learn and grow if you are telling them exactly what to do and never giving them a chance to fail. Listening to your Mentee’s struggles can be incredibly hard to do because even though they think they know what the problem is, it’s up to you to tell them what it really is.

3. Push

Building off being able to listen to your Mentee is knowing when to push them. After a period of time working together, you’ll know when they are starting to slack, starting to wane and eventually becoming happy with the comfortable spot they are in. Why rock the boat? You are there TO rock the boat, to push them into the uncomfortable, to give them a kick when everything is going fine so they can feel that sense of urgency that got them there in the first place.

I’ve worked with a few Mentees where they have outright complained about the pushes I gave them to get help them achieve a goal. But when they achieved that goal, their first response was to say thank me for giving them the push they needed. If you are ever in doubt as to whether you should provide a push, always remember why you became invested in this relationship in the first place – was it to make a new friend or help someone grow (hint: it’s the latter).

4. Support

At some point during your relationship, your Mentee is going to make a decision that you probably would have never made. Or they might do something that you warned them would fail, but they decided to do it regardless. And then, while sitting back and waiting, you receive the harried call from your Mentee that all has failed, the call they made was the wrong one, they should have listened to you, now they don’t know what to do, etc, etc.

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As any other person might be inclined to do you could offer up the never productive “I told you so”, but as a mentor, you can never do this. They are coming to you now, in their time of need, for guidance and support in what they should do next.  If you’ve been there, great help them get out a bit faster than you, but don’t take it all away. They need to learn, but, in this case, they also need your support to get through and get back in the game.

5. Letting Go

At someone point in your relationship, you will reach the point where it’s now time to let your Mentee go.  Not because they asked you to or because the time of your engagement is up, but because it is time for them to move on and grow.  This is the hardest part of being a mentor when you have invested so much time in this person, and now it’s time to part ways for the only reason that for them to continue to grow, they must do so without you (or with a different mentor).

Letting a Mentee go on their own, either by leaving your team, employ, etc is not an easy task  – one need only look to all the mothers crying when as their children leave the nest to go to school far away at the beginning of a new school year – but it’s necessary. Necessary because if they do not go, do not leave, then they will never grow and all that you would have taught them would have been for naught.

The hidden quality throughout all of this is trust – trust between both the mentor and mentee. Try as you might, if you don’t have that base quality of trust between two individuals trying to grow and become better, everything else falls down – your words becoming meaningless, your actions ignored and your suggestions questions. How do you establish this trust when it is not there, to begin with? Through small, consistent, dedicated actions that prove your commitment to not only wanting to mentor this person but from wanting to learn how to become a better mentor from working with this person.

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Every relationship I have had in a Mentor/Mentee scenario has helped me with the next that came after – because I grew, I learned, I was pushed to become better for them and when the time was ready, I knew when I had to let go and push them to do something different. If you can, if you have the opportunity, being a mentor can be one of the greatest things you’ll ever do, being able to work so closely with someone and watching them grow and helping them achieve your goals – it is one of those things in life where both sides get more than what they put into it.

Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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Greg Thomas

Software Architect

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Published on October 7, 2019

4 Types of Toxic People and How to Deal with Them

4 Types of Toxic People and How to Deal with Them

Can a person really be toxic? Well, a toxic person does not refer to those who are affected by the virus or toxic. To be precise, toxic people are those who are very unsupportive, abusive and unhealthy in nature. Their behavior is filled with venom and you will not feel any sort of gentle breeze in their words.

In this article, you will learn how to spot out a toxic person, and what you can do to deal with them.

Signs of Toxic People

To make it more obvious, I have added some signs of toxic people below.

Manipulative Behavior And Fabricated Mind

Toxic people are unable to deal with the bitter truth firmly. If you are going to blurt out their fabrications with proof, they will try to change the whole matter with their manipulative behavior. They will titillate you with sensitive words or they will try to frighten you to get rid of the problems.

Inhuman And Merciless in Nature

We know that sharing our thoughts with friends will keep us in good mental state. But, if you are not getting fruitful outcomes, you have to understand that you are spending time with toxic friends.

Toxic people do not know how to put themselves in other’s shoes. They just put on a mask of simplicity. But, in reality, they don’t have feelings for you. Therefore, you should stop sharing your valuable time with them as you will get nothing except annoyance and silence.

Hypocrisy at Its Best in Their Nature

Toxic people have a great hunger for respect, adoration, and fidelity. After dignifying them with these valuable elements, you will get nothing; you will be cheated, manipulated and criticized by them. And, if you are not willing to listen to them, you will be controlled by guilt-tripping.

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Emotional Outburst And Pathological Excuses

Toxic people always want to see themselves in the positive end. Therefore, to get their job done, they always have an emotional outburst and emotional excuse to make an impulsive impression upon you.

We do mistakes and it is our duty to accept those mistakes. But, toxic people have their own rules, they have a tendency to present themselves rationally even after committing a mistake. If someone tries to expose themselves with facts, they show no embarrassment and use emotional excuses as a shield.

Play with Your Emotion And Gradually Erode It

Toxic people always try to condescend you with critical jokes and when you try to elicit your thoughts, they just burst out laughing. Teasing becomes an important element in your relationship with toxic person. They even give you backhanded compliments to belittle you.

Thus, using their toxic mindset, they just gradually diminish your abilities as well as intelligence. And you will have nothing left in your hand other than putting up with these things to maintain the silence.

Well, you probably might have not seen all these signs in one person as there are different types of toxic people roaming around you.

4 Types of Toxic People

To understand it better, I’m mentioning the different types of toxic people here.

1. Conversational Narcissist

There are some toxic people who do not know how to give importance to others. They will talk about themselves but never ask you about your condition; they will only recall you when they need you or they are facing some sort of problems.

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2. Emotional Vampires

These vampires do not suck your blood but dissipate your emotion. They always talk negatively about everyone and compel you to think in the same pattern that they follow. They mask themselves in such a way in front of you that you gradually start giving importance to them. But, ultimately, you will not get any positive outcome from them.

3. Monsters with Green eyes

As discussed earlier, toxic people will give you backhanded compliments. Basically, these are called monsters with green eyes. These monsters feel happy when you feel sad. Therefore, they will always try to belittle your achievements, intelligence, and strengths. Along with it, they give compliments with some negativity in it.

4. Black-Eyed Cats

These cats always do mew-mew and try to control everything around them. They love to be pampered but, they do not like if someone goes against them.

If you are in a relationship with such persons, you will be nagged until you are giving them complete satisfaction. In a nutshell, it must be said that you have to align yourself with them if you want to live with them. But, ultimately, you will lose your mental, conversational and emotional freedom.

How to Deal with Toxic People

Living with problems is more convenient than living with toxic people. But, toxic people are parasites and therefore, you will see these monsters rambling around you wherever you go.

However, if you know how to deal with them, it would be very helpful for you and your life would be much easier to live. We have added some tips to assist you, just check these out.

Get Rid of Intermittent Reinforcement

We are very optimistic in nature and over the time, this optimism has reached to such a level that we can happily put up with the ‘close losses’ instead of trying to catch the ‘near wins’.

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B.F Skinner once did an experiment with three rats. He put them in different cages attached with levers. The lever delivered food when it was pressed. In the 1st cage, the lever always delivered food when the rat pressed it. In case of the 2nd cage, food was never delivered by the lever even after pressing it, therefore, the rat understood the lesson and never tried to get food. But, in the third cage, the lever delivered food randomly and as a result, the rat was completely hooked and fixated. He constantly pushed it but didn’t get the food always.

Well, this is called intermittent relationship and the same thing happens in human relationships where toxic people give you intermittent reinforcement and your heart gets pumped up with optimism. As a result, you will be hooked and your life will be fixated at some point with toxic people.

You should learn to move on without them and live your life happily because random happiness cannot bring permanent relief.

Never Make Too Many Allowances And Pardons

Well, sympathetic attitude is very good and it is also a fact that sometimes toxic people suffer from genuine depression, physical as well as mental illness. But, you have to set a boundary and you cannot allow people to get away with anything so easily.

If you make too many allowances as well as pardons, it would not be good for you in the long-term. Yes, there are some people who are facing extreme hardships and they are not even toxic in nature. But, all you can do is show some genuine compassion keeping yourself within the boundaries.

Always Try to Ignore Their Toxic Traps

Demotivational words are the primary weapon that they frequently use in their implications to detract you. Along with this, they throw words in such a way that you start feeling guilty. Well, you must understand that these are just toxic traps and you should not step on it.

Always remember that you will have full access to freedom if you stop taking things personally. They not only do this with you but also with everyone. You just have to keep in mind that these toxic words are not based on truth but on their own mental reproduction. So, you just have to ignore this and focus on your work.

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Show Them Your Beautiful Smile Not the Curves on Your Forehead

Toxic people have an aptitude to attack mentally, mock disgracefully and diminish shamefully. But, you will not be affected if you don’t surrender yourself. Show them that you are not getting belittled or insulted.

We all have our problems and we also know that we are capable of solving these problems. Therefore, the matter entirely depends upon us and if we don’t allow these vampires to enter into our life or play with our emotions, they cannot suck our happiness. So, I’d suggest you show your beautiful smile when they buzz around you.

Don’t Suppress Yourself

Toxic people will intimidate, bully, pass guilt, and forcefully take money from you to get their job done. They know very well that they are doing wrong and at the same time, they are acquainted with the concept that we are incapable of doing anything against them.

Most of the time, we keep ourselves quiet until someone speaks up. And because of this suppressive mindset, we are gradually being dragged into their mind games.

Well, we have to change this concept as it infuses courage into them. We need to obstruct them with firm minds and make them realize the negative consequences of their behavior.[1] If they are upsetting you, just tell them directly. Your direct statement might open a new gate of opportunity that will allow you to help them if they are suffering from genuine problems.

So, why are you still tolerating these toxic people? Follow the tips mentioned above and deal with them in the right way.

Featured photo credit: Devin Avery via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Tips for Grooming: Change Your Fixed Negative Belief

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