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Are You Ready to Break Up With Your Mentor?

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Are You Ready to Break Up With Your Mentor?

A mentoring relationship can be one of the most worthwhile ones you’ll enjoy, but when things go wrong, they can go very wrong. You may have reached the natural end of your relationship. Or you may have made a bad decision.

Just like any other business relationship, the key is to manage it with as much respect as you can muster. Even if your mentor is not in your line of business, you’ll probably see them several times after you end your mentorship with them.

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Before you tell them that you want to break up, start asking yourself some hard questions about why you want the relationship to end. After you know the answers, it will be easier to tell your mentor honestly why you think you both should go your separate ways.

Have you changed your long term or short term goals?

If that’s the case, there might be someone else out there who can do a better job of helping you reach them. You may be at a point where you want to drastically change your business goals.  Once you do so, you’ll need to connect with someone who has experience in the direction you’re heading into, and that may be a completely different person.

Does their advice and guidance currently help you overcome obstacles?

In the past, their words may have been golden, but lately, it seems as if you have to ignore their advice. When you make decisions that go against their advice, you have more success.  Maybe they’ve just stopped “getting you.”

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Are they currently helping you develop your professional skills, opportunities and networks?

One of the greatest advantages of having a mentor is the ability to take advantage of their own business contacts and experience. You may have reached the point that you’ve exhausted all of these resources.

Are you in a marriage of convenience?

Did either of you agree to the mentorship “just to be nice” to the other? Did you go into the relationship thinking your mentor would be perfect for you just to realize that you don’t mesh very well? Have you constantly had problems relating to each other? It’s probably time for an amicable divorce.

Is your relationship turning toxic?

A toxic mentorship doesn’t have to be abusive. It can simply be one that is inhibiting your personal or professional growth. It is possible that your mentor has some jealousy issues and is deliberately or unconsciously trying to sabotage your growth. You may be responsible for the toxicity, hanging on to your current mentor like a security blanket long after you should’ve let them go.

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Most mentors will take on several mentees over the years, and if you’ve outgrown your mentor, tell them that you know it’s time that they move on to another mentee. No matter how you feel about your mentor and your relationship, the key is to keep things open. This is especially true if your mentor is guiding you in your business life. Focus on all the positive things that your mentor has done for you, like sacrificing her time, taking you to networking events, or taking you out to lunch. It would be a nice touch to take your mentor on one of these activities as a way of saying thank you and goodbye.

If word gets out that you’re ungrateful, demanding, unprofessional, and ended your previous mentorship by just not responding to emails, it will be virtually impossible to find another mentor. We select most of our mentors due to their superior position in an industry, their large network of contacts, or advanced experience. If you leave your mentor in a negative way, you may very well shoot yourself in the foot professionally. Even if your mentor is a total jerk, refrain from treating him or referring to him as such.

In the future, you may decide to return to your mentor. You never know how different things may be in five years, or even one year from now. If the two of you had an amicable split, you mentor will be more amenable to returning to mentor you in the future.

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Leaving a mentorship means that you’ve grown in some kind of way. When you end your relationship, take pains to do so in an positive and open manner. Even if things have started to do downhill in your relationship, if you take charge and end things on a positive note, you’ll be able to leave with your dignity and professional reputation intact.

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Last Updated on November 18, 2021

10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

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10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

We all fall into the trap of judging a person’s character by their appearance. How wrong we are! All too often, the real character of the person only appears when some negative event hits them or you. Then you may see a toxic person emerging from the ruins and it is often a shock.

A truly frightening example is revealed in the book by O’Toole in Bowman called Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Instincts Betray Us. A perfectly respectable, charming, well dressed neighbor was found to have installed a torture chamber in his garage where he was systematically abusing kidnapped women. This is an extreme example, but it does show how we can be totally deceived by a person’s physical appearance, manners and behavior.

So, what can you do? You want to be able to assess personal qualities when you come into contact with colleagues, fresh acquaintances and new friends who might even become lifelong partners. You want to know if they are:

  • honest
  • reliable
  • competent
  • kind and compassionate
  • capable of taking the blame
  • able to persevere
  • modest and humble
  • pacific and can control anger.

The secret is to reserve judgment and take your time. Observe them in certain situations; look at how they react. Listen to them talking, joking, laughing, explaining, complaining, blaming, praising, ranting, and preaching. Only then will you be able to judge their character. This is not foolproof, but if you follow the 10 ways below, you have a pretty good chance of not ending up in an abusive relationship.

1. Is anger a frequent occurrence?

All too often, angry reactions which may seem to be excessive are a sign that there are underlying issues. Do not think that every person who just snaps and throws his/her weight around mentally and physically is just reacting normally. Everyone has an occasional angry outburst when driving or when things go pear-shaped.

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But if this is almost a daily occurrence, then you need to discover why and maybe avoid that person. Too often, anger will escalate to violent and aggressive behavior. You do not want to be near someone who thinks violence can solve personal or global problems.

2. Can you witness acts of kindness?

How often do you see this person being kind and considerate? Do they give money to beggars, donate to charity, do voluntary work or in some simple way show that they are willing to share the planet with about 7 billion other people?

I was shocked when a guest of mine never showed any kindness to the weak and disadvantaged people in our town. She was ostensibly a religious person, but I began to doubt the sincerity of her beliefs.

“The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.”

Abigail Van Buren

3. How does this person take the blame?

Maybe you know that s/he is responsible for a screw-up in the office or even in not turning up on time for a date. Look at their reaction. If they start blaming other colleagues or the traffic, well, this is an indication that they are not willing to take responsibility for their mistakes.

4. Don’t use Facebook as an indicator.

You will be relieved to know that graphology (the study of that forgotten skill of handwriting) is no longer considered a reliable test of a person’s character. Neither is Facebook stalking, fortunately. A study showed that Facebook use of foul language, sexual innuendo and gossip were not reliable indicators of a candidate’s character or future performance in the workplace.

5. Read their emails.

Now a much better idea is to read the person’s emails. Studies show that the use of the following can indicate certain personality traits:

  • Too many exclamation points may reveal a sunny disposition
  • Frequent errors may indicate apathy
  • Use of smileys is the only way a person can smile at you
  • Use of the third person may reveal a certain formality
  • Too many question marks can show anger
  • Overuse of capital letters is regarded as shouting. They are a definite no-no in netiquette, yet a surprising number of  people still use them.

6. Watch out for the show offs.

Listen to people as they talk. How often do they mention their achievements, promotions, awards and successes? If this happens a lot, it is a sure indication that this person has an over-inflated view of his/her achievements. They are unlikely to be modest or show humility. What a pity!  Another person to avoid.

7. Look for evidence of perseverance.

A powerful indicator of grit and tenacity is when a person persists and never gives up when they really want to achieve a life goal. Look for evidence of them keeping going in spite of enormous difficulties.

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Great achievements by scientists and inventors all bear the hallmark of perseverance. We only have to think of Einstein, Edison (who failed thousands of times) and Nelson Mandela to get inspiration. The US Department of Education is in no doubt about how grit, tenacity and perseverance will be key success factors for youth in the 21st century.

8. Their empathy score is high.

Listen to how they talk about the less fortunate members of our society such as the poor, immigrants and the disabled. Do you notice that they talk in a compassionate way about these people? The fact that they even mention them is a strong indicator of empathy.

People with zero empathy will never talk about the disadvantaged. They will rarely ask you a question about a difficult time or relationship. They will usually steer the conversation back to themselves. These people have zero empathy and in extreme cases, they are psychopaths who never show any feelings towards their victims.

9. Learn how to be socially interactive.

We are social animals and this is what makes us so uniquely human. If a person is isolated or a loner, this may be a negative indicator of their character. You want to meet a person who knows about trust, honesty and loyalty. The only way to practice these great qualities is to actually interact socially. The great advantage is that you can share problems and celebrate success and joy together.

“One can acquire everything in solitude, except character.”

Stendhal

 10. Avoid toxic people.

These people are trying to control others and often are failing to come to terms with their own failures. Typical behavior and conversations may concern:

  • Envy or jealousy
  • Criticism of partners, colleagues and friends
  • Complaining about their own lack of success
  • Blaming others for their own bad luck or failure
  • Obsession with themselves and their problems

Listen to these people talk and you will quickly discover that you need to avoid them at all costs because their negativity will drag you down. In addition, as much as you would like to help them, you are not qualified to do so.

Now, having looked at some of the best ways to judge a person, what about yourself? How do others see you? Why not take Dr. Phil’s quiz and find out. Can you bear it?

Featured photo credit: Jacek Dylag via unsplash.com

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