13 tips to maximize your dual-generation mentorship
"If I knew then what I know now..." -Your Elders
This phrase — almost always followed by a silent pause, knowing nod or random segue into completely unrelated conversation — has got to be one of my biggest pet peeves in life. I always want to scream, "Finish your sentence!" Tell us, let us know and teach the children what you would do differently at the end of that ellipses. Wisdom is an invaluable commodity, and no matter what stage of life you're in, someone else's
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Here are 13 tips to get the most out of your dual-generation mentorship:
1. Be open
Your mentor grew up at a different time, guided by a different set of social norms. Perspectives and terminology might differ, but as long as the dialogue is constructive and honest, you're on the right track.
2. Don't judge
If there is a communication gap between the young and the old, it's not without reason. Too often the wisdom that comes with age is accompanied by critical, judgmental undertones that ultimately surrender effectiveness in condescending delivery. Conversely, the arrogance of youth can sometimes be a barrier to receiving valuable insight. We can do better.
3. Keep it one-hunned
4. Be vulnerable
Effective mentorship demands a certain level of vulnerability and setting aside of ego. If you're not willing to be transparent, the value of the relationship will be limited.
5. Share stories not sermons
Save the self-righteous indignation and philosophical sermons. We need to hear about the crazy, careless decisions that earned you that wisdom. Don't tell us what to do, we are capable of thinking for ourselves. Tell us what you did or didn't do and the results of those decisions. That's where the real value is.
6. It's so not about you
Few things are more fulfilling than serving and helping others. If you're a mentor, it's important to take periodic inventory of why you're in this mentorship relationship. Are you here to feel good about yourself or are you genuinely invested in the growth and development of your mentee? If you're a mentee, understand that this is a give and take relationship. You contribute to this relationship too.
7. Take genuine interest
You can give and receive surface-level advise without really knowing a person, but in order to be an effective mentor or mentee, you really need to get to know your mentee or mentor on a personal level. What motivates them? What challenges are they facing?
8. Share successes
10. Admit what you don't know
As a mentor, it might be tempting to assume the 'know-it-all' role, but you
11. Set boundaries
Is this a formal or casual mentorship? How often will you talk? What kind of information and how much are you willing to share? Set clear expectations to hash out boundaries.
12. Set expectations
13. Get tactical
With practice and a little patience, dual-generation mentorships can be valuable and fulfilling for all parties involved. Stick with it!
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