Mentoring: How to build trust in mentoring relationships

Explore suggestions for building the critical characteristic of trust in mentor/mentee relationships

One of the most important elements in the mentor/mentee relationship is trust. Trust isn’t something that comes quickly or easily and instead requires time and patience to build. Trust is the substance of all successful relationships. It is often linked to openness, mutual reliance and respect, as well as the willingness to be vulnerable in some way. Without trust, relationships become tense and people become self-protective. Successful mentoring relationships absolutely depend on it.

The early part of any mentoring relationship can be a little tense and intimidating, but there are things that can be done to build trust and ultimately build a wonderful mentoring relationship. The Corporation for National and Community Service offers the following suggestions:

  • Give your mentee voice and choice in deciding on activities. Provide a range of activity choices for youth. Youth feel more invested in the relationship if they can exercise some control.
  • You should also let the mentee have control over what you talk about and how you talk about it. Be sensitive to their cues. Don’t push your mentee for information or hit them with rapid-fire questioning.
  • Most importantly, respect the trust your mentee places in you. Respond to them in ways that show you see their side of things, giving advice sparingly.

By allowing your mentee to have some say in the relationship and allowing them to share without fear of getting lectured or judged, you will be setting the tone for a positive relationship. Whether they show it or not, your mentee is looking for an outlet for their thoughts, experiences and feelings. When the two of you have established trust, you have proven to each other that you are dependable and that is the beginning of growth.

Did you find this article useful?