My working hypothesis is…

… if you want to encourage your mentees to share their challenges with you, start sharing your own. It’s easier said than done.

Speaking about challenges is never easy. First and foremost, you need to feel safe enough that you don’t need to fear embarrassment. Second, you need to have a clear understanding how to grasp what challenges you. Third, you need to be able to formulate your challenge in a way that your audience can understand.

Thus, if you are new in a mentoring relationship, it should not come add a surprise that those inexperienced might have a difficult time grasping, formulating, and daring to utter their challenges. If you, as a mentor, signal that there is no stigma involved and illustrate how you can usefully describe a challenge, you’ll likely be rewarded with a more knowledgeable behaviour of your mentees: people will more likely open up.

Opening up needs trust, yes – but it also benefits from following a good example.


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!