How Storytelling Can Foster Mentorship Connections

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Strong connections are the foundation of a successful mentoring relationship. 

Mutual respect is needed to move mentoring conversations from debate to dialogue. It takes trust, and personal identification to build a strong connection with another individual. 

Building trust isn’t easy, but a good place to start is through storytelling. Mentors who share authentic, impactful stories can help to develop a swift connection with a mentee who has experienced a similar situation or experience.

Stories can provide insight, not only into where you were in your transformational journey, but who you were at various points along the way. Hearing stories from mentors allows members more opportunities to connect with some part of your story that best defines where they may currently be. 

How to Tell a Mentoring Story

Let’s not forget that you don’t need to be a senior executive to become a mentor or tell a story. For us, the practice of mentorship starts with a conversation with someone “in the know.”  

That’s right. The rigid, hierarchical definition of mentorship is in the past. Today, modern mentorship is meant to be both collaborative and fluid, with each community member having the opportunity to become a mentor. 

And this starts with storytelling. Successful mentors share stories in an effort to be authentic which, in turn, creates an environment that allows members to reciprocate with vulnerability. 

Every good mentoring story has three fundamental movements:

  • Status Quo: The situation prior to the circumstance, conflict, event, or problem. 
  • Conflict: What happened during this point in time, including the difficulty of the event and the potential disruption or ripple effects. 
  • Resolution: What happened as a result of the event, including your growth path following the event, what you learned, and how you may apply these learnings to future events. 

Let’s take Sarah, for example. Sarah is one of the masses whose work-life balance has been disrupted due to a lack of work-life balance brought on by the pandemic. 

Sarah has struggled to communicate this to her boss and only continues to overexert herself, taking on new projects and responsibilities without any end in sight. 

How can Sarah use this experience to tell a story? It could look something like this: 

Status Quo:

“Even prior to the start of the pandemic, I frequently worked from home. This meant I had limited face-to-face visibility with my boss and was constantly being assigned new projects as they didn’t realize how much I already had on my plate.” 

Conflict:

Pretty soon, I was working 12+ hours each day with infrequent breaks. At first, I was hesitant to raise the issue as I didn’t want to come across as weak or irresponsible, and powered through it. However, I soon came to realize that this was not a long-term, sustainable solution — I was on the brink of burnout.” 

Resolution: 

“I came up with a game plan. I set up weekly meetings with my boss to review deliverables and expectations for the week. If anything else came up, I knew what I should focus on first. On Fridays, I prepared my to-do list for the following week, which also served as the agenda for my Monday meeting with my boss. Now, I have a consistent line of communication, and my schedule is much more manageable.” 

See! Sarah used her own experiences with work-life balance to not only tell a story, but also educate others on how to recover from burnout and a lack of work-life balance. 

Start Telling Your Story With Mentor Spaces

As both a mentor and a community member, we want to empower you to tell your story to the Mentor Spaces community. 

How can you do this? Write down five major experiences you have had in your career. Can you easily explain the Status Quo, Conflict and Resolution? Now you have five stories you can tell to the community. 

Start telling your story with Mentor Spaces. 

Find an upcoming Session you can attend to tell your story.