Each year, January is the month designated to celebrate mentoring. It’s a curious thing to have one month dedicated to mentoring. Every month is a good month for Mentoring! Perhaps the notion is to raise awareness for this special and influential form of developmental relationship.
Over the last couple weeks I’ve seen a variety of days referred to as 'Thank your Mentor' day.
While gratitude towards the mentors in our life is a good thing, relational mentoring honours the wisdom and knowledge both people bring to the exchange which contributes to mutual growth and respect. I encourage mentoring partners - both mentees and mentors - to express appreciation to each other every time they meet.
Creating a mutually supportive mentoring relationship facilitates leadership development and achievement of learning goals.
Generating positivity in the relationship contributes to the creativity, possibility and trust to name just a few of the benefits. Appreciation not only creates positivity, it lets the other person know what they’re doing well. An important leadership skill is being aware of your impact. Expressing appreciation lets you know your impact and adds depth to the relationship. It also adds resilience so that constructive feedback is more easily received because of the mutual trust and investment in the relationship.
The template I offer for expressing appreciation is straight forward.
“What I appreciate about you today is….”
Be sincere and genuine in your comments. Be specific and share what you value about who the person is and the impact they are having. Don’t make it up. Tell the person what’s true in that moment.
Here are some examples:
Mentee to Mentor:
What I appreciate about you today is how well you listened as I shared my experience. You didn’t interrupt. You let me finish my story and then you asked thoughtful questions that let me know that you heard me.
What I appreciate about you today is how you helped me see multiple sides of the situation. You were direct and empathic when you let me know that I was stuck in one point of view.
Mentor to Mentee:
What I appreciate about you today is that when I made a suggestion about how I thought you should handle the situation, you let me know that wouldn’t work for you and clearly asked for what you wanted - to problem solve together to come up with ideas.
What I appreciate about you today is your good nature. Your positive energy made our conversation engaging even when we were deep into discussing alternatives.
You get the idea. Say what was true in your experience of the other person. It can be simple too.
I appreciate your curiosity and interest in getting to know me and what’s important to me.
I appreciate that you always ask how I’m doing in general and you’re interested in hearing my answer.
I appreciate that you always show up on time and block out the time so we are not rushed or interrupted.
The goal in any relationship is to create more positive interactions. In a mentoring relationship appreciation adds to the foundation and enriches your time together to realize maximum benefit for both of you.