The mentorship scheme is online, and due to safeguarding, the sessions operate through audio only. Whilst this is understandable, it does represent a challenge for me as the mentor. Not being able to see your mentee means that you can’t pick up on visual clues in body language; conversely, I’m an expressive person and use my hands (a lot) whilst talking, all of which is lost through audio only sessions. To compensate, I’ve had to work harder at really engaging my “active listening skills” and continually test my understanding of the limited amount that is being said (typically sentences consisting of 3-4 words) in order for me to offer any useful interventions!
And I’ve found that establishing rapport has been very different in this mentoring context. In a workplace scenario I might draw on similarities in our working approach(es), shared sector experiences, topical news pertinent to a project or client etc. But with a young person the dynamics are different. You need to find a credible common ground that you can build upon to establish a rapport and build trust, which is challenging when your mentee gives you very little to work with!