So, you've got a mentoring session coming up in ten minutes and you haven't had time to think about what to discuss? Don't panic!
We've all been there. Sometimes life just gets in the way. But with 10 mins to go - there's actually still plenty of time to prepare and get the most of your upcoming session.
First of all, remember that not every session needs to be a deep dive into your biggest career goals.
It's like going to the gym - sometimes you think it's going to be a killer workout, but it turns out to be a nice walk on the treadmill. And that's okay! Mentoring sessions can be the same way. It's perfectly fine to use them to quietly bounce ideas off your mentor, talk through a problem you're facing at work, or just brainstorm new approaches to old tasks.
#MenteeHack: What's on my mind today?
Before your session starts, just ask yourself one question - what's on my mind today?
Maybe you're feeling overwhelmed by a new project, or you're struggling to communicate with a coworker. Or maybe you need a fresh perspective on something you're working on. Whatever it is, start by telling your mentor what you're thinking about and let the conversation flow from there.
Talk about what you've been doing for the last few days or weeks. What you think has been going well and what hasn't been going so well. It doesn't have to be a profound conversation every time - sometimes just getting some thoughts out in the open can be incredibly helpful.
And don't be afraid if it seems like you're asking your mentor questions outside of their specific expertise. The truth is, even if it's not directly related to their role, your mentor is an unbiased, agenda-free advocate who may have valuable insights to share or just a different perspective that can make all the difference to you.
#MentorHack: What's on your mind today?
Mentors, the conversation is in your hands too. If your mentee is finding it difficult to express themselves, flip the question above and ask them - what's on your mind today?
What have they been thinking about? What have they been working on? Get them talking and feel free to be open about your thoughts and opinions - even if you have to add the caveat that the topic is not precisely in your wheelhouse.
Remember, you can be an immense help to your mentees by simply being on their side and offering a calm, balanced perspective on whatever they're currently facing.
In short, whether you're a mentee or a mentor, don't stress! Mentorship is a conversation, not an exam. Sometimes the most valuable insights come from spur-of-the-moment discussions. So take a deep breath, relax, and start talking!
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