How to make mentorship a two-way street, with Tobias Harris of the Detroit Pistons

Tobias Harris, NBA athlete and forward for the Detroit Pistons, knows a thing or two about the importance of mentorship.

Harris is a dedicated philanthropist, passionate mentor and creator of the Tobias Harris School of Business Basketball camp, a program designed to give kids entering grades 5-12 a fun and engaging experience in learning the fundamentals of basketball, along with invigorating workshops on careers, life-goals, self-esteem building and more.

Below he outlines five tips professionals should keep in mind to get the most out of a relationship with your mentor.

For the full interview and more discussion, check out the above episode of #BizChats.

1. Both parties have to master effective listening skills

“Mentors can gain so much wisdom from really focusing on what their mentees are saying. Once a person knows you’re truly listening, both parties will establish trust over time that will allow the mentee to open up and express themselves openly without fear of judgement.”

2. Make the effort to build a genuine connection that pushes past the superficial

“Trust takes a lifetime to build, but only a moment to destroy. When looking to build a genuine connection with a mentor, you can simply partake in shared hobbies or activities the mentee or mentor is into, exchange stories, or partake in trust-building workshops together.”

3. Strengthen your humility and humbleness muscle through the lens of emotional intelligence

“As a mentor, you have to be willingto put yourself in your mentee’s shoes to understand their struggles that they deal with. It’s not supposed to turn into a pity party by any means, but empathy speaks volumes to a mentee in need of help rather than forced sympathy.”

4. Keep your conversation as organic, open, and honest as possible

“Being vulnerable can be scary at times, but it’s the times when you feel the most lost, confused, and stressed where you need to press into your mentor the most. If you’re not willing to be 100 percent honest with your mentor, you’re doing yourself the disservice of not receiving the help that you need to better yourself in life.”

5. Focus on the main message you really want to get across to your mentee

“Be sure to have an agenda to ensure that you hit all the pointsyou want touch upon to make your time together the most effective as possible. To take it one step further, make sure you both come up with feasible action steps with a due date for the following meeting. The only way you know you’re truly making progress and improving in an area of your life is if you track it. Your mentor will be there to keep you accountable and make sure you’re moving forward.”

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