What To Do When a Mentee Talks too Much

April 20, 2010 - Mac Lake - Leadership, Mentoring

Yesterday I told about a mentoring meeting I observed where a young lady was talking way too much.  In that post I gave a few tips for mentees to makes sure they’re making the best use of their time with their mentor. 

As I sat there and listened to thier exchange the question hit me: How do you handle it when your mentee talks too much?  First let me start with what the older lady in yesterdays story did well.

  • She listened well.
  • She restated things that she was hearing. This reflected that she was hearing what was being said.  (A very good listening technique).
  • She maintained eye contact and emotional engagement in the conversation. (She deserves a badge of honor for this one)
  • She threw in biblical principles when she could catch the young lady taking a breath. (Which wasn’t very often)

But here’s a few things she could’ve done to enhance the productiveness of her discipleship efforts.

  1. When they talk too much it may be an indication they have misunderstood the purpose of your meeting.  So before you start clarify why you are there and what you hope to accomplish in the time together.
  2. When the mentee goes on and on telling a story, interrupt by asking a thinking question.  For example:  “Why do you think God allowed that to happen in your life?”  or “If you had a chance to re-live that moment what would you do differently?”  The goal is not for them to tell their story.  The goal is for you to help them learn from their experiences.
  3. When the mentee goes from one subject to another without stopping…say, “Before you move on let me ask you a few questions about what you were just saying…”
  4. When the mentee keeps talking incessantly be more directive.  Tell them what you’re looking for as you ask a specific question.  Tell them your time together is valuable and they don’t need to give too much detail in their stories.  As the mentor your responsibility is to steer the conversation toward a growth objective.   Sometimes we try to be nice by allowing them to keep talking but if they talk too much they lose the opportunity to learn.  Sometimes the best thing we can do for them is to interrupt and provide purpose and direction to the conversation. 

What are other things you have found helpful when a mentee talks too much?

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Mac Lake


My passion is multiplying multipliers

2 responses to What To Do When a Mentee Talks too Much

  1. Mentee is such an odd word. It’s awkward like “attendee.” Really the only word that works well with the “ee” ending is goatee.

    We definitely need a new word for a person who is being mentoring: student, disciple, novice, apprentice, big mouth…

    Oh, and great article by the way.

  2. How about calling them protoge?

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