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How to Create a Psychologically Safe Mentoring Relationship

Psychological safety and trust are at the core of how and why a relationship works. In mentoring, psychological safety and trust between the mentor and mentee are essential for creating a space for learning and growth by allowing both parties to feel comfortable sharing.

Behavioral scientist and Harvard Business School professor Dr. Amy Edmondson (2019) defined psychological safety as “the ability to show and employ one's self without fear of negative consequences to career, status, or self-image.”

Psychological safety is the assurance that no team member (or mentee) will be humiliated, laughed at, or punished for asking questions, sharing ideas or concerns, or making mistakes. Psychological safety results in positive interpersonal interactions (Edmondson, 2019) and encourages prosocial behaviors.

Mentoring is a form of prosocial behavior. Below are ten tips for creating a psychologically safe mentoring relationship.

How to Find the Right Mentor Relationship: To develop a successful relationship with a mentor, you must:   1.     Determine your short- and long-term goals   2.     Identify the type of mentor you need  a.     Advisor  b.     Advocate  c.      Affirmer  d.     Challenger   e.     Coach  f.      Connector  g.     Sponsor  3.     Decide if you want one-on-one or group mentorship and virtual or in-person sessions  4.     Review your professional circle and pinpoint who has your “dream job”  5.     Determine if the person is the right fit by learning about their experience in the industry or role and evaluate their successes, challenges, character, and values  6.     Create your elevator pitch  7.     Specifically tell the person what it is about their professional or personal experience that made you reach out to them and make them ask to mentor you  8.     If the person is unable to serve in a mentor capacity, birds of a feather tend to flock together, so ask them for a referral to someone that has a similar experience as they do

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