Positive Responses to Negative Statements

By Barry Sweeny, 2003

YOUR GOAL AS A MENTOR MUST ALWAYS BE TO USE EVERY OPPORTUNITY TO BUILD A COLLABORATIVE CULTURE IN YOUR WORKPLACE AND TO CHANGE PERCEPTIONS SO THAT PEOPLE ARE OPEN TO LEARNING FROM EACH OTHER.

WHAT YOU SAY, AND HOW YOU CHOOSE TO SAY IT, CAN HELP TO DO THAT!

CONSIDER SOME OF THE FOLLOWING IDEAS, BUT PLAN AHEAD. IF THIS HAPPENS TO YOU, YOU NEED TO BE READY TO BE POSITIVE.

THEIR NEGATIVE COMMENTS YOUR POSSIBLE POSITIVE RESPONSE
As you leave the office to:(a) observe in another location, or …

(b) to have a conference with your protege…

a colleague says…

“Well, getting away from the office again, huh?”

(a)”Yes, I’m going to observe my protégé give a presentation using some new software. You know, I learn so much and I gain ideas that have a positive impact on my work with customers. You should try mentoring too, you like to learn.”(b) “Yes, I’m going to meet Ralph who is mentoring me to help me increase my questioning and needs assessment skills. I am learning how better assess and address customer needs. I bet that’s something you’d like to know more about too.
“We don’t need this formal mentoring program. I always talk with other staff & trade ideas & we don’t need any time off of work to do that.” (a) “I agree that all of us have helped each other but isn’t it sad that there
is no time provided to help us to do it! With the Mentoring Program I feel supported.  I think our organization should support us if they want us to grow.”(b)”Well I used to think that too, but we never got to watch each other
work & I got so little help. Mentoring allows us to focus on practicing and refinement of our ideas and to get feedback too. We learn a lot!. Try it, you would like it.”
“If I became a mentor my friends would think I feel I am better than they are.” “I was concerned about that too, but I decided to be a mentor anyway to help me improve my own performance and to help our organization begin to see the need for peer support in implementing change.”
“I don’t need a mentor. I have my own style of working that seems just fine.” “You must be a very strong employee! I am not as satisfied as you. I have to
keep learning each day to feel that I’m becoming the best that I can.Sure, I have my own style but customers are so demanding and more diverse now than before. I have to keep building my ability to work with them. Don’t you agree with that?”
“Aren’t you uncomfortable evaluating the work of others?” “Well, I was originally concerned that mentoring would be evaluation, ’cause
I don’t want to do that.Also, I was a bit uncomfortable at first sitting in and observing another person’s work situation, but it is helpful to give feed back to others and it’s enjoyable because I get great ideas too!

Besides, the protégé controls the focus of the mentoring and the topic for learning. Also, it is really self evaluation that I facilitate.”

“My manager wouldn’t want me out of my office so much!” “I talked with my manager and we discussed my goals for my own improvement & how mentoring will help me learn some of these things. She knows my own reluctance to miss much work and desire to be sure the time away is really valuable.Now she supports what I am doing asks me what I am learning that I use in my own work.”