Control your inner thoughts and become a more effective mentor

by Stacey Wyse

Stacey Wyse, Director for Coaching and Mentoring, SIL Global HR

I am a practical learner. I strive to put into practice what I am learning. By doing so I seek to solidify my new skills and increase my effectiveness. During a Team Coaching Course, there was a module about Coaching Conversations, where the coach’s inner dialogue during the spoken conversation caught my attention. In your interactions with others, have you ever thought, “That was dumb” or “I can’t believe they did that” or you find yourself figuring out your next question to ask without really listening anymore? When this happens, you really are no longer focused on the person and thus no longer being as effective as you could be.

Thoughts come into our minds so fast and so many of them can be judgmental just like the thoughts mentioned above. As mentors, how can we take those judgmental thoughts captive, and set them aside to be more present with the person we mentor? They can feel our judgmental thought as they see our body language through a sigh, crossing of the arms, a frown, etc.

Consider this: “…we have between 50,000-70,000 thoughts per day, this means between 35 and 48 thoughts per minute per person. The steady flow of thinking is a thick filter between our thoughts and feelings, our head and heart. The constant mental traffic prevents us from seeing clearly, listening deeply.” (50,000 plus thoughts per day) Instead, adjust your mindset to suspend judgment and seek to understand, showing it through your actions.

Take time this week to listen to your inner thoughts and conversations. Take note of your judgmental thoughts and turn them around. For example:

  • When thinking a statement is dumb, ask yourself “What could I learn from this?”.
  • Notice your body language. Instead of sitting back when you have a judgmental thought, change it – lean in and uncross your arms.
  • When thinking, “Why did they do it that way?”  Ask yourself, “How can I seek to understand? Ask them a question, “What would that look like?” or make a request, “Tell me more about that.” 
  • When thinking “That would be impossible!”, ask them “What could you do to make that happen?”.

Are you ready to give it a try? Start this week! Even better, try it with a fellow mentor and compare your notes. Become more effective mentors together.

Here is another article that you might find helpful: How To Improve With Self-Reflection.

Photo by Stacey Wyse

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