Mentoring and Emotions

Why do emotions matter in mentoring?

Studies have shown that emotional intelligence is critical to effective mentoring.  

Successful mentors and mentees are emotionally self-aware and they self-regulate; they understand how their mood affects the nature of their influence on their colleagues; and they have empathy, compassion, and a genuine interest in promoting others. These dimensions of emotional intelligence are particularly critical for effective mentoring in cross-gender, cross-generational and cross-race relationships.

Developing an emotionally intelligent mentoring relationship

Tips for Mentors and Mentees:

1. Recognize any of your own anxiety about an upcoming mentoring conversation and/or your relationship.  What is the source for this anxiety? Are there particular thoughts or ideas that preoccupy you when meeting with your mentor or mentee?  Do these constitute pressures? Ask yourself why do you feel such pressure (is it related to feeling judged for example?).

2. Read your mentor’s or mentee’s mood:
— Start by asking, How are  you doing? 
— Reflect: Were the time and location agreed upon and scheduled in agreement with the mentor?  
— Pay attention to their facial expressions, body language, use of words, and their sense of available time. 

3. Consider doing a confidentially administered professional assessment of your own emotional quotient in order to gain insights into your self-perception, as well as your self-expression, interpersonal, decision-making, and stress-management behaviors, and develop strategies to build up your strengths and develop goals for growth. Contact Rania Sanford for more information.

4. Recall your feelings when in conversation or meetings with your mentor or mentee.  What were the triggers for any positive and negative exchanges? How did your feelings influence your interactions? If you had negative associations that influenced your interaction, what can you do differently next time?  What positive experiences could you create next time? Remember that more relaxed interactions can easily become positive experiences—for example, an informal walk and chat, a lunch invitation, a quick check-in on your mentee’s grant proposal, or asking how their family/parents/kids are doing.

The Emotionally Intelligent Mentee

Studies have shown that mentee emotional intelligence moderates the influence of negative mentor mood and its subsequent decreased quality of mentoring support.

The higher the mentee’s emotional intelligence, the less the mentor’s mood will be a variable influencing their receiving support.