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Communication: A Critical Tool to Strengthen Cross-Gender Mentoring Relationships

What happens when the mentor and the protégé are different from each other in ways such as race, gender and culture? Does mentoring across differences compromise the outcomes? Chips Klien, inventor and business woman, counts mentoring—including cross-gender mentoring—as one of the keys to her success.  She shares her observations and experience as a mentor and also as a protégé:

Why it is Important for Women to Embrace Mentoring as a Tool for Success in Business

  • Many women have “fantastically good ideas” but may not know how to put them into action
  • In a male-dominated society women can sometimes feel isolated even with their great ideas
  • Because of sexism some women are afraid to admit they don’t know or they are reluctant to take risks because they don’t want to appear less capable, should the idea not work.

On Cross-Gender Communication in Mentoring

  • Because men and women tend to have different styles mentor and protégé need to pay attention to the way they communicate with each other—verbally or otherwise
  • In formal mentoring programs orientation training should include a segment/activities on communication styles
  • Communication style ties in closely with personality compatibility
  • The male mentor should remain aware of potential concerns a female protégé may have—whether or not she verbalizes them. For example, around their meeting: time (does it conflict with childcare responsibilities?); place (is the door open so those around can see the meeting is strictly professional?); or responsibility (does the protégé prefer to do the contacting?)
  • Some women because of social conditioning may feel hesitant about ‘intruding’ or being a ‘bother’ and thus not as assertively take advantage of the mentoring opportunity, even after seeking it.

One Response to “Communication: A Critical Tool to Strengthen Cross-Gender Mentoring Relationships”

  1. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!

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