Listening Tips for Mentors
Resisting the urge to fix them
1. Give full attention: Show genuine interest and respect. Give affirmation and validation. Never act bored or distracted.
“Excuse me I was thinking of something else” (More important than you)

2. Match their tempo: Don’t rush or be afraid of silences. Kids don’t like to be bombarded with irrelevant or probing interrogation.
“Let’s get to work; I have lots of questions for you”

3. Reflect back feelings: Showing empathy conveys support and concern.
“That must have been really difficult for you”

4. Paraphrase what is said: They will know you are trying to understand.
“Sounds like you thought nobody cared about what you wanted

5. Ask to learn more: Certain ‘window words’ open an opportunity to explore for more information by following up.
“You mentioned lots of worries. What is most difficult right now?

6. Encourage full expression: Use open-ended questions and avoid why questions – they trigger defensiveness. Show interest and curiosity.
“Help me understand what you were thinking”
7. Avoid blaming: Don’t preach about what they “should” or “shouldn’t” do.
“Don’t you think it would be better if...(Shame, correction, advice)
8. Avoid detracting comments: Don’t dismiss or minimize their problems.
“I know exactly what you’re feeling” (Impossible!)
9. Respect personal space: Respectful mentors offer a unique blend of empathy and objectivity. Don’t force empathy.
“You can trust me, I’ll never let you down” (Words don’t create trust)
10. Celebrate survivor’s pride: Validate acts of strength and resilience.
“You showed real courage in facing and conquering that problem”