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Are You Ready to Break Up With Your Mentor?

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 May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

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