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Table of Contents
Aims of The Project.
Mentoring Skills Chosen..
As a high school student, I struggled in many approaches related to studying. The skills that are attained help in growing throughout life. It affects the professional as well as the personal aspects. I always knew that I needed to improve my skills in many respects. Finally, it happened when I got a chance to mentor my friend Peter in helping him out to acknowledge his strengths. While mentoring him, I experienced that I had many loopholes in several skills; somehow, I also improved one of the skills that was active listening skills. The sessions helped me to a large extent. I could critique my skills through a mentee. This is one of the skills that I have focused on in my research project. The identification and the importance of listening skills in all spheres of life is drawn from various literature interventions which I will be mentioning as well.
The project took place when my friend and I started our university classes. There were clubs organized related to the interest of the students. We chose to take part in the Literature club. We saw many of the seniors engaged in brainstorming sessions. They had their groups divided mutually on an opinion. It was a good chance by which we could increase our knowledge. The club activated for 75 minutes daily. We did various activities related to literature as well. The sessions helped the participants discover their capabilities and genres in which they excelled. The thought of mentoring came into my mind and helping Peter through mentoring. Mentoring is a way by which trust relations are built among the mentor and mentee. It is a cordial relation where both of them are benefited. Mentoring is a two-way process. It is based on symbiotic relationships. It is only during mentoring I discovered that my mentee became my very close friend. In the initial days, it was only listening from his side. But after gaining trust from him, it became a two-way process where we both mutually were benefited (Irby et al., 2017). I discovered and improved my communication skills, especially through actively listening. A strong relation must be ensured between the mentor and mentee that uplifts the performance academically. Mentoring also made sure that there was a transition from a unilateral student paradigm to sustaining a mentor relationship over the long term(Irby et al., 2017).
In our case, this change has resulted in a rapport that enriches both of our lives, and that should be the ultimate goal of any mentor/mentee combination. The mentee and mentor must decide the fixed agenda of meetings. They must talk on the appropriate exchange of feedback and ways of measuring success. For example, the first 10 minutes of the mentoring may include personal check-in; the middle part of the meeting may focus on progress check and evaluating the goals determined. The final minutes ought to be spent on a discussion regarding the topic, clarifications of doubt and panning can be done for the next meeting. Setting clear routines will always bring success and avoid misunderstandings and nuisance in the future(Irby et al., 2017).
The aim of the project is to improve my active listening skills through mentoring my friend Peter. There are certain ways that should be kept in mind while mentoring. Generally, a highly experienced person (the mentor) guides a less experienced individual (the mentee) in their professional or academic development. Peter is new in the city. He is junior to me. We interacted for the first time in the literature club. While conversing for the first time, I realized that he had issues regarding communication. His background was completely different from mine. I grew up in a city environment with modern facilities. He was from a small village in the countryside. He had never interacted with city people. The feeling of getting a chance in an acclaimed university like this had filled him with joy. To support himself financially, he worked in a small cafe near his PG flat. It used to be evening shift duty. I felt nice as I encountered that he understood the value of money and time. By earning in the cafe, he paid rent for his food and accommodation. But he was hesitant due to his limitations in communication. It showed his lack of esteem. It seemed that he wanted help. Hence I thought of mentoring him. It will enhance his confidence because he can be guided in every respect. I will be able to enhance my listening skills by getting aware of the problems that he was facing. Through this process, we have now turned friends which were overruled earlier as a mentor-mentee relationship.
Mentors provide support in career advancement and also help in social development. The mentor acts as a coach who provides exposure. For social support, the mentor acts as a role model who provides counseling, friendship, and advice (Larose et al., 2009)
According to Higgins and Thomas, Mentorship plays an important role in the field of professional improvement. It also innumerates that Peer mentoring is an effective way of growth (Higgins & Thomas, 2001). Effective mentorship has proved to deliver positive effects on careers and provided mental satisfaction. It helps in choosing the right career resulting in better future prospects. A lack of mentoring causes the mentee’s burnout and hinders career progress. Good mentors are confident and committed (Jonsdottir & Fridriksdottir, 2019). That means when Peter will speak, I should carefully listen and be honest and sincere towards him. I must be understanding of his opinion and patiently respond to whatever he says. I should not interrupt him when he is speaking and should not resist his opinion or put up my opinion on him. In my view, each of these functions is important to successfully mentor and gain skills mutually.
For mentoring Mark, I need to focus on my active listening skill. For that, I need to engage myself in strengthening my listening skills. The active listening skills will not help in the mentoring process but also will help me in my future progress. I will be able to perform better in my career. The listening capability is an important aspect where the listener is always benefited by the information gained. While listening, one becomes passive. The state is helpful to an extent because being a good listener always improves the niche of knowledge. Being a mentor to a friend becomes very sensitive as I have to understand his background, his family, culture, social issues, customs, and beliefs. It is for this reason I have to focus on improving listening skills. This skill helped me understand the problems that he has been facing to date. The problems can be many more like family issues, financial issues, low confidence, lack of self-esteem, and maybe some due to his family background.
The points that are to be kept in mind while pursuing active listening is in what way it should be done. I choose six steps by which I can enhance my skill.
The first will be paying attention to whatever is said. I will silently and attentively listen to whatever information is being told by the mentee.
The next step will be withholding judgment. His problems, his efforts for solving Peter’s issue, inferiority complexes faced by him; all must be judged rightly so that I can provide the solution as a guide to him. This will enable him to solve his issues related to his personal life(Lakshmi, 2017).
The next vital step for enhancing listening skills is interpreting skills. When I am the listener, I cannot assume that I can apprehend the mentee’s statement correctly. I have to be a mirror for his information. It can only be done by paraphrasing the key points if it is felt inappropriate or meaningless. It enhances the active listening technique.
The next point to be considered is clarifying the parts of the conversation. Whatever is misunderstood must be clarified in no time. It can be done to avoid misunderstanding. Hesitation or being shy of asking something to repeat can never help in active listening. I will have to clarify the points whenever I feel confused or unclear about the statements put forward. Probing open-ended questions or wanting to clarify can clear doubts. For example: Can you explain further the given point? Or what do you think about it? These are some examples by which I can clarify my doubts. These sentences clearly emphasize on clarifying the doubts. The next step to complete the listening is summarizing. Whatever I will listen, I will summarize it. It helps both parties to be clear on mutual responsibilities. Clear concepts and transparency can help in solving problems.
The next step is briefly to summarize what you have understood during active listening. I can briefly summarize what I have understood and ask the mentee as well to summarize the same. An active listening skill involves understanding the other person first and then being understood as a listener. As I will gain a clearer understanding of the other person’s perspective, I can begin to introduce my own ideas, suggestions on the topic, and feelings. I might relate a similar experience or idea and share them with a mentee. For example:
I can shift the situation to questions that what should have been done or what approaches could be applied? After the points are summarized essential for listening, there can be many sorts of disturbances regarding listening skills that can hinder the process. Firstly, I would limit distractions. Silencing technologies such as mobile phones around me so that I can give full attention to whatever is conveyed to me. I will note the mentee’s tone of the voice, his body language, and the words used while giving a description. I will pay attention to what is conveyed rather than what I would say in return. For this setting, some signs or short forms can help me remember the facts said by the speaker.
Sometimes there is no problem in being silent. It is acceptable to not comment or reply to the statements or facts put by the mentee. A break in the conversation breaks the thought process in which the mentee is while explaining himself. Encouraging the mentee to offer his ideas before giving one’s own opinion is also a good way to enhance confidence. I must pay attention to 85% listening and 15% speaking. I have to understand that the mentee has a lot to speak. A clear chance must be given to him so that he conveys all he wants. To have accuracy while recalling comments, I can ask the mentee as” Did I hear it correctly?” In this way, I can assure you that whatever information I have acknowledged is correct. It is considered to be an easy way of clarification(Spataro & Bloch, 2017).
Being an attentive listener will help me in my professional field. I can have strong leadership qualities. The co-workers under me will direct reports without hesitation. By making the mentee comfortable, I can expect the results to be positive. Good listeners have a better chance of building good relations with people. Developing active listening skills is helpful in every profession. One can gain respect in the workplace. It helps in improving and mending relationships with colleagues at a professional level. A better listener becomes a better leader. A good listener is always productive. He/she is always attentive. Good listeners have better problem-solving abilities. These benefits will always work for me in the future. The chances of making mistakes are lessened in the case of a good listener. It is most beneficial in workplaces and personal relationships. A good listener never interrupts and jumps to give advice. I want to enhance this skill because I feel that it is important to pursue life’s goals. All of us have to go through a phase where we need to interact at a professional level. A good listener is never at a loss because of the fact that he listens and then judges the situation. It increases confidence because one who does listen properly is less likely to make mistakes. It is profitable in all ways. Through this research and mentoring, I can upgrade and improve my skill that is highly associated with professional success and overall mental peace(Weger et al., 2014).
According to Montgomery, as stated in her journal that impactful mentoring focuses deeply on personal growth, and also mends to support an individual’s values-based personal encouragement in a specific domain(Montgomery, 2015)
The mentors require aids by which they can effectively carry out the mentoring process. It is an important part of the process. According to the surveys done by Arnesson and Albinsson, it is up to the mentor to choose the aids depending on types of skills and the generation of results(Arnesson & Albinsson, 2017). For carrying out the research on active listening skills, I decided to take up 3 sessions where there will be interaction with the mentee in the form of a questionnaire template(Kubota, Mishima, & Nagata, 2004). It will contain all sorts of questions on issues that the mentee has been facing. The conversation will mainly focus on listening to the minute details described related to the problems. I decided to do three sessions with him. Peter knew about the sessions, and he was very active and supportive in case of helping me. He was aware of the aim of the research. I prepared a questionnaire template depending on his social life, background, and expectation areas. I opted for the template version because I thought it would help Peter express himself properly. On the other hand, it will help me judge my active listening skill as well. The questions focused on revealing his possibilities towards his future. It had questions starting from normal day to day things to a personal level as well. The first session was about the normal questions related to his family and his personal life. The questions were put up by me were:
All of the above questions were short and had very small answers. The questions are to the point, and they include to the point answers. I noticed while answering about family; Peter was in an emotional state. He is an adult who was away from his family. I could see the nostalgia that surrounded his answer. In some answers, he was too elaborate that it made me a little restless. Then I realized that I actually need to focus on my listening skills. I recorded his answers that later helped me to prepare questionnaires regarding his other issues that were drawn out during the first session. When I saw the recordings of the conversation, it made me feel proud that I took up such a research project that helped me understand Peter and analyze my own capabilities. It also reaffirmed that I need to improve a lot in this field.
Simultaneously, the first session encouraged me to do better in the 2nd session. In the 2nd session, I made sure that Peter must involve himself in the depth of the topics which will be discussed. This time I included open-ended questions that had elaborate answers. The questions must allow for the complete association. The questions will allow for opinions to come out. In return, it will be a guide to Peter through me. While answering, I need to make sure that I listen to him thoroughly and carefully. The interruption is not accepted while the mentee speaks because it breaks the continuity. But it is necessary that I try to clear my doubts after Peter has summarized his part of the story. The question for my 2nd session was:
These answers in the previous session with that of the first one had differed a lot. I could calculate that Peter was able to answer it with an open heart. He responded in an active manner. He showed interest as well as anger and frustration that surrounded him. I also noticed that many things he mentioned to me in his answers which he was unable to express in front of others. I felt the trust factor building. I felt that I was growing as a mentor whom the mentee could believe. The body language and the expression both changed as compared to the previous session. The only thing in which it lacked behind was the session felt too short for me to comprehend about Peter’s other problematic areas.
For the final session, I made efforts to clarify my doubts regarding Peter and his problems. It was time when I had to play my part. I had to establish goals for both Peter’s current situation and his struggles regarding daily life. I had to understand that he is trying to cope up with his education and his petty job to support his expenses that he had to pay to live as a paying guest. The final session was about exploration but without a time limit. The last session ended by discussing the future goals, its appropriateness, and ways to achieve it. It was all done through effective listening and speaking. The questions were:
While watching the final recording, I was extremely happy because I could notice a drastic change in Peter. He was comfortable and enthusiastic. It was good to see that my mentoring has benefited him. I was surprised to see myself being so patient. Earlier it had so many loopholes. By the end of the final session, the loopholes were covered, and that made me happy because somewhere inside, I knew I had played my part better. I interpreted his thoughts in the right way. I was able to provide solutions to him. In the course of action, I realized that my patience and listening skills increased. I could see improving myself with each session. These skills required to be brushed up within the interval of time. But I was happy with my improvement and the fact that I could mentor someone.
This research and conversation were effective because it highlighted my problems with active listening. The questionnaires I provided him were able to form a way through which I knew how he was to be mentored. Due to the conversations and actions taken, we had transparency where we met weekly as well, apart from the sessions organized. These small informal meetings helped both of us to grow closer. We bonded well. I learned a lot about him and tried my level best to solve and listen to the problems he had been encountering in a place that was new to him. For me, I grew personally and professionally. We both could measure our personal and professional growth. It also inspired me to mentor others in the literature club of the university. After these sessions, I understood some very minor rules that are to be applied in mentoring, and the rules must be implemented in the sessions for reaching the determined goal. The best part is the feedback. Peter has always been vocal about his views. Whenever we spoke, he was always open to feedback. His feedback had helped me grow as a mentor and coach. It was during the sessions we really became close. Peter was able to provide honest feedback. It helped to construct me as a mentor.
Appreciating the honest reviews and feedback from Peter is one thing that I really admire and respect. I feel honest feedback can help recognize one’s attitude and help them grow on both professional and personal levels. While recalling the sessions where we had interacted, it amazed me how close we became as a result of these. When we started meeting up later, our meeting became really informal. We are friends now that I think is one of the important relationships humans acquire. The meetings at the literature club became boring and we started meeting outside the campus for a cup of coffee or so. This bonding and flourishing of the relation were all because of the honest feedback given by Peter. Mentoring is all about feedback. One should have knowledge of whether mentoring is going in the right direction or not. The success of my mentoring session has been largely dependent on the feedback provided by Peter.
While evaluating whether the sessions were successful on the whole or not? I get an answer which is ‘YES’. It worked on a large basis. I and Peter both grew so much after the sessions. Even our informal catch-ups have drawn so much positivity in each other’s minds. Peter had even opened up in deeper ways. He was honest regarding the struggles that he had been doing all his life as a countryside boy. He opened up about his career prospects, the expectations that he had to keep up for his family. His insecurities, fear, and force that strive him to get admitted to a university which would help him achieve his goals and make his future finances strong. From my side, I was listening minutely. This part is the goal in which I want to improve. I am always conscious of listening; the questions that were prepared by me were the approaches that will break barriers and bring transparency in conversation. When Peter is speaking, I need to hold back myself without interrupting. This research also helped me become a good mentor. The certain things that I learned are active listening is very important and whenever things are about to become boring, new changes and ideas must be introduced so that the interest does not fade away. It has boosted my confidence as a mentor, and in the future, I can be a mentor who has the capability to solve the issues and help bring confidence in them.
Active listening skills help to build trust. It helps in identifying problems and solves them. It also helps in avoiding missing critical information(Kadagidze, 2006). On the other hand, one disadvantage of active listening skills is an interruption. The interruptions may cause disruption to the inflow of information. It is one of the logistic challenges where low-quality incomplete speech is received.
The next step of development will be to be on a stage where I can focus more on effective listening. The more I listen to my mentee, the more I will be able to interpret and recognize what must be done. I believe this in a concern with not only Peter but also with other mentees in the future. The three sessions which I had did make me a good listener. But it is not enough to make me an expert in the skill I want to achieve. With Peter, I could go through my expertise, and I was able to practice and learn so many things about the skill. I became an active listener while working with Peter. But it is more important than in the future I must be so adaptable that anyone who wants to have a conversation with me can do it freely. One must not feel that they will be judged on only the basis of answers. According to Kadagidze, effective communication skill is the one which has to be developed in the future for growing in all fields(Kadagidze, 2006). Later, I will also want to improve my facilitating skills later, which is again an important skill covered in mentoring. I want to be the bridge and a helping hand to my mentees.
The research project has helped me become an effective mentor. A mentor who listens effectively can be a problem solver. The vital things that have to be there within mentor and mentee are transparency of facts, honesty in providing feedback, and trust that whatever is being said will be within them, and solutions will be provided the steps which can be used in enhancing skills which included paying attention, having judgment, clarifying followed by summarizing.
These steps enabled me to find solutions and helped the mentee to find challenges that needed to be sorted for him. The effective mentor always welcomes feedback. The feedback helps in self-assessment. The self-assessment helps the mentor to grow professionally and personally. The trust in the mentor by the mentee is the most important factor for the success of the sessions. In a nutshell, the research elaborates on my journey as an effective mentor who, while mentoring, tried to enhance the active listening skills. I learned that in order to be a good listener, I must be patient and attentive. Perseverance and attention are the basic rules by which anyone can excel in increasing their active listening skill.
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