The old adage that the GAOTU gave us two eyes, two ears but only one mouth so that we could look and listen four times as much as we speak, can certainly be applied to the Mentor.
Keeping a watchful eye on your Candidate will provide useful indicators on how he is settling in to his masonry.
- Does he join in with the brethren, or is he often to be found standing apart on his own?
- Does he appear interested in the proceedings of the Lodge? His body language will tell you this. Is he looking at what is happening and does he appear to be focused on the ritual, or does he appear inattentive, look blank or easily distracted?
- Facial expressions, gestures, posture, eye signals, body movements all transmit a message. Body language, it is claimed, can be a window to our thoughts, indeed it often speaks louder than words – we may say one thing, while our bodies say another.
Mentors need to bear in mind that their primary role is to help and encourage their charges to develop. A meaningful coaching or mentoring session depends upon using questions that provoke a positive response.
A more difficult skill to develop perhaps, but one that is essential to guiding and supporting a learner, is to use open questions that enable the Mentor to:
- Establish rapport and put the other person at ease
- Free up the other person to answer as they choose and in their own words
- Encourage uninhibited feedback
- Help explore opinions and values in more detail
- Create involvement and commitment
- Check out understanding more comprehensively.
It is the ability to listen ‘actively’ that defines the good communicators. This involves really concentrating on the message being transmitted, by trying to understand not only what is being said, but also how and why it is being said.
When in discussion, listen for a note of confidence or hesitation in a Candidate’s voice. This will indicate whether he really understands the topic or is still to grasp what is being discussed.
A successful Mentor who does possess the above techniques will soon discover they are very useful, as they will quickly enable him to gain a true picture of the Candidate’s strengths and abilities. By doing so, the Mentor will be able to start making judgments on how the Candidate may be able to contribute towards the lodge, if he so wishes. Does he have flair for public speaking, a good way with figures, an ability to form relationships quickly, is he an organised person?
By identifying such skills, the Mentor may see the potential for a future Secretary, Charity Steward, DC etc.