Conversations with your mentor will become richer and more meaningful when you say what you mean, rather than what you think you should say. Speaking openly and honestly is a practice that you can develop through mentorship, which will serve you well in other areas of life.
I struggled with being able to communicate effectively for a long time. I felt a lot of frustration which showed up as unhappiness and discontentment – at work, in relationships and social settings. Although I didn’t recognise it at the time, I now realise that much of this frustration came from my inability to express myself. Which, in part, was a lack of confidence in my ability to communicate. It was also because I had not trained myself to recognise and share what I honestly thought or felt. Instead of realising and speaking what was true for me, I would catch and check my thoughts, crafting them into words that would sound good or right.
Now don’t get me wrong, there are benefits of thinking before you speak in many circumstances, and a person should never feel that they need to say more for the sake of it. But the point here is that when you have something to say, you must have the skills to recognise and share your thoughts or feelings so people listen. This is necessary to live a fulfilled and happy life.
The great news is that your time with your mentor is the perfect opportunity to practice recognising and talking about how you really feel. So how can you start this practice in the OneUpOneDown mentor relationships?
How to get better at recognising and speaking to how you feel – putting it into practice
When you show up to a session and your mentor asks “How are you today?”, instead of on giving the usual line, stop take a breath and think about how you really are. It is okay to take time to go beyond what you think you should say to recognise how you feel at this particular point in time. Observe what comes up and see where it leads you without judging.
If this seems like a difficult task right off the batt, you could start by journaling in your own time. If you find journaling hard, it’s a good sign that there is some room for you to work on removing some of the friction that exists between your thoughts and feelings and your ability to express them freely and without judgement. It won’t take you long to get the hang of journaling with practice. It may also give you some good topics to discuss with your mentor.
Becoming aware of your own frustrations when it comes to communication and seeing them for what they are is the first step towards progress. If this article has shed some light on a learning and development opportunity for you, you may like to raise this as an area to work on directly with your existing or future mentor. Start by sharing the realisation that you have had.