Assumptions are dangerous. They are termites of relationships. Specifically in a mentorship relationship, it becomes crucial to communicate as clearly to avoid misunderstandings and any assumptions. On this account, it is essential to understand the Do’s and Don’ts in Mentorship for a mentee.
Here are the Don’ts in Mentorship for a mentee.
1. Don’t rely on your mentor to give you answers to all your questions and problems. This will be overburdening your mentor. If there are questions that you can easily find answers on for example on the internet, then do that. A mentor is still as human as you are, they aren’t super beings, they do not have all the responses to your queries. Learn to manage your expectations on the mentor and cultivate the important skill of seeking the answers to some of your questions from other avenues as well. Especially in this Information era. Take advantage of all the vast Information that is a click away.
2. Don’t ask your mentor to make a final decision for you. A mentor’s responsibility is to provide guidance. A mentor shows you the different approaches that you can take with their pros and cons. Decision making however lies solely in your hands as the mentee. Don’t put unnecessary pressure on your mentor regards decision making, this is not what mentorship is about. Misplaced decision making creates a situation where the mentor hands you the fish and not the fishing rod, ultimately missing the mark. Decision making grows you up as a mentee. It empowers accountability and ownership of decisions made, including the mistakes.
3. Don’t gossip your mentor. Unless a mentor exclusively allows you to share their stories, it is disrespectful to discuss them with other people. If your mentor shares something with you that is personal and that they would wish for it to remain private, then don’t expose it, honor them by keeping it confidential. A mentor should not gossip the mentee and the mentee in parallel should not gossip the mentor. As we mentioned in the Don’ts in Mentorship for a mentor, gossip breaks the trust and affects the relationship negatively. It’s eats into the confidence in each other. While it takes a long time to build trust, it takes a very short time to break it and after that it is never the same again. In consequence, Breach of confidence is offensive in Mentorship.
4. Don’t become overly dependent on your mentor. Just the same way that a mentor’s duty is not to micromanage you, it is your duty to learn to stand on your own feet. Learn to take initiative, on research, on questions, on checking your progress against your goals and on prior planning of activities.
We can relate this to a child learning how to ride a bicycle, initially they need help, support and a push. Eventually after perhaps several falls, they are left to ride on their own and that’s the beauty of it. The end goal is for them to enjoy their bike, on their own without the two side wheels or them leaning on to someone for support. It is paramount for the mentee to be aware that in the long run, they will need to stand on their own and be their own self, independent of the mentor.
5. Don’t be nosy regards you Mentor’s personal life. Don’t poke your nose where it shouldn’t be. It is important to have healthy boundaries. Allow your mentor to be who they are in their personal life without scrutiny. Create adequate space for them to breath and live their own life without having to worry how you will perceive them. They have rights to their personal lives and decisions. If the mentor decides to let you in on their personal life, it should be from their own accord. If they desire to, otherwise don’t cross that invisible line.
6. Don’t be passive. Don’t allow your mentor to make all the moves matters meetings, venues and time. Show your interest as well by initiating these discussions. Plan, schedule and send reminders of the meetings to the mentor. Be keen on every agenda for your meetings and always cross-check with your mentor in case one of you is running late or will not be able to make it altogether. Additionally, be the initiator of some of the conversations, you don’t need to assume the position of being carried every single time.
7. Don’t assume your ‘why’ for choosing mentorship. This includes your goals and expectations. Allow them to be an anchor to the relationship. Mentorship is grounded on the ‘why’, it is the mark. Be as crystal clear with it and allow it to drive and push you. Don’t put your why at the back of your head and simply go with the motions, no, you may find yourself at a wrong destination. Keep checking, even Google maps keeps telling us which direction to turn to until we arrive.