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Monday, April 27, 2009

What Does It Mean to Validate a Mentee?

In the previous blog we discussed three different types of listening: simple, emotional and respectful listening. Today we focus on another very important core interpersonal skill that the mentor should have as part of his or her repertoire, validating.

      Note: Lisa is the mentee.




   Definition: To validate a mentee is to let that person know through your verbal and nonverbal language that you support, understand and appreciate the feeling, the experience or the thought that he or she is sharing.




  Setting: Suppose your mentee, a new Judaics  teacher at a day school, shares this message with you.


                        "I’m twenty-three years old and I’m so frustrated. I thought I wanted to be a Judaics teacher, but it’s so hard. I spend hours planning lessons every night, and the students seemed bored to tears. Why am I so unhappy? I’m a failure as a Judaics teacher. "


  Validating: "Lisa, first of all I really appreciate your sharing this with me. I feel honored that that you could tell me what's going on inside of you. I want you to know that I have not exactly gone through what you are telling me,  but I can honestly say ]\ that my first year of teaching was the most challenging one of my professional life. I was my worst critic. When my lesson didn’t go well, I’d go home and feel devastated. Many a night I would have the hardest time sleeping, thinking that I could not face the students the next day. I realize that this is not exactly what you are feeling and experiencing, but this is what happened to me.”


  Discounting:"Lisa, I know exactly how you feel because I went through the same thing when I started teaching. You see..."




  Invalidating: "Lisa,  I care about you and I know that you are a very sensitive and caring teacher. Take my advice. Don't worry about it. I can assure you that these feelings will all go away next year. It will all work itself out. Believe me. Now let's go and have a cup of coffee.  Okay?"


In tomorrow’s blog post we will introduce four different types of feedback:technical,   constructive positive, constructive negative, and corrective feedback.


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