December 8, 2022

Building Transparency in mentoring and professional supervision 

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Transparency is a crucial requirement in mentorships and professional supervision. It is the key to holding ourselves and each other accountable. To allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, and to build trust and a sense of safety in the relationship. It is a competency that is necessary on both sides; from the mentor and the mentee. Without transparency, the work cannot be done. 

However, transparency can be one of the most difficult traits to master. Showing total honesty is more difficult than we realize, often because we aren’t fully transparent with ourselves. Today, we want to talk about what can help build up this transparency in a natural and beneficial way. In relation to both mentor and mentee… starting with the mentor. 

As a mentor, what helps to build transparency in the relationship?

As a mentor, it is our role to provide a safe and consistent space that allows our mentee to be transparent with us. However, it doesn’t happen right away: trust takes patience. Here are some ways we can build trust with our mentees:

  • Listening: this seems obvious, yet being a good listener takes work. It means that we are engaged and focused on their words. Reframing can be a great tool to let our mentee know we are paying attention; repeat what they have said back to them, making sure that we understand. 
  • Responding: As a mentor, we need to be careful that our responses are appropriate. A strong reaction can come across as judgemental or overly reassuring. The goal is to allow them to react to their own words without our influence. This means we must guard our verbal and non-verbal communication as we listen. 
  • Patience: Mentors can often see further than what their mentees are saying, sensing that there is more to be explored on a specific topic or that a mentee is uncomfortable or hesitant to dive deeper.  A wise mentor knows when to encourage a mentee to speak more, and when to leave it for another session. Pushing too much can break the mentee’s sense of safety. It can be more beneficial to allow the mentee to share what they feel comfortable with and trust that they will be more forthcoming in the future. It also allows the mentee to draw their own conclusions and take charge of their story when they are ready. 
  • Clarity of purpose: A clear contract before any sessions even began, articulating boundaries, purposes and even relevant legal practices, allows a sense of safety and understanding between the mentor and the mentee from the very start. It relies on transparency from the first meeting and will help transparency (and therefore trust and a sense of safety) grow as you both keep to your initial agreements. 

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