Today’s giving: The fourth graders are deeply involved in their car project now in the engineering project I’m volunteer teaching. They are learning the basics of setting a goal, making a plan, implementing their plan, and figuring out what went wrong if their car didn’t do what they wanted.
After I wrote about how a good question can really help someone, I was asked,
“What are some examples of effective questions? How would a person come up with these questions?”
I’ll attempt to answer that in several parts.
Ask a Question Like a Mentor (Part 1, “Before You Meet”)
- Practice listening – Don’t assume you know how to listen. Listening is hard. Practice giving your undivided attention to anyone who talks to you. Join Toastmasters and work on your evaluations. If you’re already a Toastmaster, evaluate every speech even if you’re not the evaluator. Practice, practice, practice.
- Get some background knowledge – If you are going to help someone on how to build Foo’s, you better know a little about Foo’s. ‘Nuff said.
- Learn about your mento* – What is his/her skill level? What are his/her goals? Who are they? Establishing a rapport will help guide your questions.
- Bring paper and pencil – Taking notes will help you find patterns in your discussion.
- Remind yourself who this is for – The immediate goal is to help the person you are mentoring, not yourself.
- Prepare to give your mento your undivided attention – Try to meet where you won’t get interrupted. Avoid taking calls. If you’re time crunched, don’t show it.
The question I would ask you, the reader, is
“What would you like your mentor to do before helping you?”