Personal skills and training

The training session - introduction
The training should begin with some sort of icebreaker to help introduce each of the mentors.

For example:
Ask each mentor to write down the answers to a number of questions and share them with their neighbour.

Suggested questions:

The facilitator of the session should ask questions of the participants and introduce this general rule about questioning technique:

Think about the time people require to answer questions and then wait - do not interrupt. If the mentee has not answered after a minute or so, suggest that they think about their answer and that you will return to it at a later date. Or ask them if they need the question clarifying, and then move on to something else.

The training session - listening activity
In groups of three, each takes a role (explained below):

1. The listener is given a 'model' of how to behave to the speaker. 2. The speaker talks about something they are familiar with. 3. The observer listens to the conversation and observes what goes on. 4. Each will report back at the end of the task.

The time for the task is 10 minutes.

The listener
The listener should be given one of these scenarios to follow as they listen to the speaker.

Select one:

The speaker
The speaker is asked to talk about something that is important to them at work or at home or both. The session lasts five minutes and is stopped by the observer at that time.

The observer
The observer listens and notes what is being said. For example, the body language and mannerisms of the speaker and listener. The strengths and weaknesses of the communication are also noted.

Each of the characters is asked to feed back their feelings about the experience to the whole group - starting with the speaker and ending with the observer.

The group is asked to consider the lessons learned as a result of the task.

The training session - hot seating activity
Arrange two seats in the centre of a circle of seats. Two people take specific roles - one the mentor and one the mentee. They are given a scenario to discuss. For example, the mentee is struggling with their schemes of work, which are often submitted late.

The mentor and mentee sit on the two chairs and are surrounded by the group. They begin their conversation and if one of the group has something to say at any time, they take the place of one of the speakers in the central chairs, until someone else has a view and takes their place. The group members may take the place of either the mentee or the mentor. The task should take 5 to 10 minutes. The whole group then discuss what they have learned from the process and record these points.

A new scenario is offered and two new people take up the centre seats and start the conversation again. Individuals may take the place of the speakers anytime they have something they wish to contribute. After 5 to 10 minutes, reflect on the previous list of learning points. Do any new ones need to be added?

At the conclusion of this activity, each group member should ask another about the one thing they have learned from the tasks that they will take away with them. This could be varied by asking people to use specific questioning techniques.

An exercise on your own
You may still reflect and learn on your own. Try talking to something - a picture of a face, the dog, even a doll! Talk through a situation you are concerned about, and as you are talking, listen to what you are saying and how you are saying it. Imagine interruptions; how will you cope? Imagine disagreements; how will you cope? Imagine total agreement; what will you feel?

Think about how you would talk to this person if they were your best friend. How would you engage with them? Would you do things differently?

print - back to scenario