Mentoring Tip – Your Intentional Tone
Our body language, quality of voice, and facial expressions reveal a lot about our motivations, emotions, and impressions of others. Negative cues may be especially impactful to youth who have experienced trauma. This is why mentors should develop greater self-awareness of their own posture and communication style. When meeting with your mentee:
- Greet your mentee with a warm, genuine smile. In addition to kind words, let tone of your voice convey that you care, that you’re glad to be there.
- Only touch your mentee in appropriate ways, such as a handshake, high-five, pat on the arm, or side-hug. If your mentee appears uncomfortable, stop.
- Set boundaries with care and kindness. Even if your mentee is displaying difficult behavior or is making mistakes, don’t cross your arms, narrow your eyes at your mentee, wag your finger, or send other negative cues. Ask program staff if you need help.
- Offer your full attention. Make eye contact. Sit or stand on the same level with your mentee. Try to be relaxed and breathe deeply, which can send an important signal that mentoring is a safe space. PLEASE DO NOT USE YOUR PHONE!
Mentoring is not always easy. Adults have bad days too. However, this hour with your mentee is extremely important. Fake it if you must. Practice will make these behaviors habitual in mentoring and in normal life!