My working hypothesis is…
…when mentoring, never underestimate how busy a student’s life can be and how difficult it can be to build a mentoring relationship from the “weaker side of the table”.
If you leave the interaction entirely to your mentee, the chances are that your relationship will not come to the same depth as if you helped the relationship along every once in a while from your side.
I’ve come to realize that no-one wants to be the sole initiator of every interaction in any relationship. It feels lopsided. It feels to the mentee as if he or she is the only person involved and engaged and who is always indebted to his mentor. I am convinced that if that’s the prevailing experience of a mentee, it’s about the least attractive position to be in. Consequently, I would not be surprised if a mentoring relationship subsides in which only one partner is the active one.
People are looking for sparring partners, not punching bags.
This is a working hypothesis. Obviously it’s not a be-all-end-all truth. What’s your take? Let me learn in a comment. Thanks for helping me learn your perspective!