The importance of emotional intelligence
Having emotional intelligence is perhaps the most important aspect to becoming a successful mentor. Emotional intelligence isn’t something that is taught at schools and many people may not have an idea of what it is or how to develop it.
Emotional intelligence consists of four attributes: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. Below we describe how each of these relate to mentoring relationships.
Self-awareness: Mentors need to know what their main strengths and selling points as a mentor are. They will need to rely on these to get them through the difficult early stages and get buy in from the service users. They also need to know how to overcome any barriers they might face because of their personality traits. This leads us on to the next area..
Self-management: Knowing how our personality traits sometimes hold us back is not enough. We need to develop a way of overcoming these problems. Some people avoid situations when they start to become difficult. When motivation and engagement start to drop. Some people get over excited and over stimulated and as a result start making promises they will never be able to keep. Others freeze when a service user is indecisive and starts to make excuses. No matter how good, every mentor will face a personal barrier at some point and the key to success is being able to overcome it.
Social awareness: Knowing what service users past experiences have been like and what doubts and insecurities they are likely to be facing helps us come up with a plan to work past them. We need to understand why change is difficult and all the internal and emotional that can get in the way. This can help us know when a service user’s motivation is likely to drop and help them overcome this when it happens.
Relationship management: Communicating clearly in times of difficulty, being an influence to others without trying to confront them in to change and managing boundaries within the mentoring relationships are all crucial to long term success and long term change.
CLI are developing Emotional Intelligence courses for volunteers and family members of service users. Please use the contact form if you would like more information on these courses.