The Art of Becoming a Better Mentor and Mentee - Communication Issues
Part of workshop on mentoring lead by Donna Dean, executive consultant for Association for Women in Science (AWIS) and retired senior federal executive for the National Institutes of Health, and Cynthia Simpson, the chief business development officer for AWIS. The workshop was tailored to a community of both women and men and faculty, staff and students.
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[00:00:01.493]Communication issues, so that's kind of the framework
[00:00:04.147]that tells us that, I think, when we mentor people,
[00:00:08.934]we aren't just, it isn't just 100% of helping them
[00:00:14.068]in their career growth, that there are other things
[00:00:17.865]that may be impinging on what is happening
[00:00:21.421]with that person at any moment in time,
[00:00:23.718]and as well as impinging on us
[00:00:26.171]if we are in a mentoring role.
[00:00:28.133]So, Cindy, would you like to move into the communication?
[00:00:31.550]So the next session refers to communications,
[00:00:34.558]and this is a really good example.
[00:00:37.414]We'll be doing another one.
[00:00:39.366]Keep the lines of communication open.
[00:00:41.252]I'm sure many of you have played that telephone game
[00:00:44.033]or, I guess, in the most recent version
[00:00:46.595]where you get information from someone
[00:00:50.527]and you pass it along and they pass it along,
[00:00:52.850]and they pass it along, and when it gets back
[00:00:55.545]to the original person,
[00:00:56.876]the information is completely different.
[00:01:00.102]That's how misunderstandings occur and there's
[00:01:05.452]a lot of that that happens in the area of communications.
[00:01:10.386]So effective communications, we tend to think
[00:01:14.148]people are hearing more
[00:01:17.123]and understand what we're saying.
[00:01:19.179]We overestimate how much people actually are receiving
[00:01:25.084]when we talk, and that's called signal amplification bias.
[00:01:29.617]There is a lot of research that's been done on that topic.
[00:01:33.051]Also, we assume everything
[00:01:34.779]that we communicate is understood.
[00:01:38.145]And very shortly we'll test that statement.
[00:01:44.773]Influencing factors regarding communication
[00:01:48.200]revolve around several of the
[00:01:52.066]areas that are addressed up here:
[00:01:53.950]age, gender, geographical location,
[00:02:01.608]region, those are all
[00:02:04.776]areas that influence and effect effective communications.
[00:02:11.032]We know, for example, here in Nebraska,
[00:02:15.214]many people are from the state,
[00:02:17.413]but also many people are from other areas,
[00:02:19.797]and so we've had some really great discussions
[00:02:22.095]asking them about some of the cultural differences
[00:02:26.010]between being here in Lincoln versus where they're from
[00:02:31.203]or where they came from.
[00:02:32.632]For example, I live in the Washington, D.C. area,
[00:02:36.291]a huge, huge metropolitan area, very fast paced,
[00:02:41.087]almost too fast, I come here and people are nicer,
[00:02:47.326]the pace is not quite as frenetic,
[00:02:51.570]it's still a fast pace, but not the same,
[00:02:55.569]and overall I find that
[00:02:59.428]the culture is more accepting here
[00:03:04.892]in Lincoln and at the university.
[00:03:07.842]So just some of the differences that I've observed
[00:03:09.821]during the two days that I've been here.
[00:03:13.799]How scientists communicate.
[00:03:14.824]Non-scientists pretty much straightforward,
[00:03:17.282]if you're talking about changing paper in a Xerox machine,
[00:03:20.288]open the tray, insert paper, close the tray.
[00:03:22.871]Sometimes it's too simplistic.
[00:03:25.784]Scientists, because they like and are encouraged,
[00:03:29.269]and you need to
[00:03:32.371]write, you need to be precise, you need to make sure
[00:03:35.834]that you communicate exactly what needs to be done.
[00:03:40.057]They have the diagram, they have the manual,
[00:03:43.986]this also would refer also
[00:03:45.914]to engineers as well, very precise.
[00:03:50.093]So there's a difference and you need to be aware
[00:03:52.223]of those differences when you're communicating.
[00:03:56.047]Scientists typically convey information
[00:03:58.068]as was demonstrated very precisely.
[00:04:01.733]They rely very much on data and technical information.
[00:04:04.201]You have to, you're putting your credibility on the line,
[00:04:06.963]especially when you're promoting
[00:04:08.205]your research in publications,
[00:04:10.091]you have to make sure your data is accurate.
[00:04:13.937]They place very much great value
[00:04:16.001]on the words that are chosen.
[00:04:19.145]and we work with a number of scientists
[00:04:21.408]and we greatly value their input
[00:04:24.705]when we're writing and sending out information
[00:04:28.718]to our members, because that's very important
[00:04:31.782]the words that are chosen.
[00:04:34.334]And then scientists tend to be somewhat introverted or shy,
[00:04:37.446]not always, but that actually relates back
[00:04:41.781]to the importance of networking and communications
[00:04:45.562]and when you're walking into a room for the first time
[00:04:48.826]and you don't know someone, it's more challenging
[00:04:53.249]when you're an introvert to make connections.
[00:04:57.415]So just thinking about ways that you can facilitate
[00:05:01.371]opening dialogue and discussions
[00:05:05.017]in terms of communications is important.
[00:05:10.072]So how scientists should communicate,
[00:05:12.212]a combination between the two.
[00:05:14.432]You have the instructions are not complicated,
[00:05:17.848]they're much more in-depth than the simplistic instructions
[00:05:22.574]that non-scientists have.
[00:05:26.129]The other point to make is for those of you
[00:05:29.686]that are looking at funding,
[00:05:32.048]and especially in today's environment
[00:05:34.331]with Capitol Hill being consumed
[00:05:36.664]by many people that don't have a science background
[00:05:39.873]and they're questioning funding.
[00:05:42.341]It's very important to be able to understand
[00:05:44.143]and to convey what you do and why you do
[00:05:47.661]to non-scientists, especially as it relates
[00:05:49.908]to potential funding in the future.
[00:05:52.213]So that whole area of communications is very critical
[00:05:55.333]and mentoring can help with that,
[00:05:58.141]because those are the types of questions
[00:06:00.943]that mentors and mentees should be addressing
[00:06:04.100]as part of the mentoring relationship.
[00:06:07.800]If you struggle in this area, this is a great opportunity
[00:06:12.388]to receive mentoring,
[00:06:14.077]either in a formal or an informal capacity.
[00:06:17.432]So that you can address the skills gaps
[00:06:21.622]that may exist in terms of communication
[00:06:24.381]whether that be verbal, written, or other.
[00:06:30.017]So, speaking of verbal, written.
[00:06:31.945]There is written, verbal, nonverbal communications.
[00:06:35.669]Transmission and feedback is critical.
[00:06:37.616]You have to have meaning behind the dialogue
[00:06:42.212]and understanding or you really don't have communication,
[00:06:45.330]you just have people shouting at each other,
[00:06:47.907]and I think you see that in the political environment
[00:06:50.690]we have right now, unfortunately.
[00:06:53.082]There's a lot of discourse out there.
[00:06:54.433]You need to have meaning and understanding.
[00:06:57.749]Verbal and nonverbal.
[00:06:59.315]When we talk, the importance of what we say is weighed.
[00:07:03.468]And research has shown that 7% of what we say
[00:07:09.405]is understood through words or oral communication,
[00:07:14.687]38% when we speak is made up of paralanguage,
[00:07:20.225]and 55% are the nonverbal cues that are conveyed.
[00:07:28.783]Ah, I'm gonna get to that, good question.
[00:07:32.384]So, oral is, of course, spoken,
[00:07:35.402]be concise, to the point, don't ramble.
[00:07:38.942]How many people have ever been in,
[00:07:42.499]in a forum where somebody has said
[00:07:44.718]they have a question and they get up,
[00:07:47.047]but they don't really ask a question?
[00:07:50.784]Raise your hand if you've experienced that
[00:07:52.440]or you've seen that.
[00:07:53.529]And they just kind of ramble,
[00:07:55.154]they just kind of pontificate.
[00:07:57.313]So that's really not a question.
[00:07:59.404]Just when you're asking questions and communicating,
[00:08:01.856]be very precise and to the point.
[00:08:04.366]Don't just kind of go on and on.
[00:08:06.667]Choose effectiveness, how effective you're going to be.
[00:08:09.566]That's very important over precision in communications.
[00:08:13.414]Think about the reader or the listener.
[00:08:16.374]Show empathy, that's putting yourself in their place,
[00:08:20.195]understanding their framework and their context
[00:08:22.427]of where they're coming from.
[00:08:24.789]Be assertive, it's always important to be assertive,
[00:08:28.397]but not directive in your communications.
[00:08:31.305]Business language does not equal social language.
[00:08:33.755]I think that's so very important, especially for
[00:08:37.438]the generation going into the workforce.
[00:08:41.836]when you text and the way you text and how you text
[00:08:44.920]and the shortcuts that are used are not to be replicated,
[00:08:48.817]really, in a professional setting
[00:08:51.383]or professional communications.
[00:08:54.083]A lot of people do not like
[00:08:56.210]the little emojis in their emails
[00:08:59.110]or happy smiles or whatever,
[00:09:01.502]thumbs up when you're sending an email.
[00:09:03.617]Unless you know the person really, really well,
[00:09:06.858]but in a context of a business setting,
[00:09:10.084]that's often frowned upon.
[00:09:11.624]So you have to be aware of the difference
[00:09:13.428]between a business and social language.
[00:09:16.828]And then match your medium, of course, to the message.
[00:09:20.995]Nonverbal, yes, yes sir, yes sir.
[00:09:24.450](person speaks off mic)
[00:09:26.436](persona speaks off mic)
[00:09:30.647](person speaks off mic)
[00:09:42.393](person speaks off mic)
[00:09:44.185]Exactly, I'm gonna give you the mic.
[00:09:46.802]Yeah, just a quick comment,
[00:09:48.806]I've been here for a long time
[00:09:50.293]and I feel like this problem about your professional life,
[00:09:53.851]your professional communication is not the same
[00:09:56.208]as your social communication.
[00:09:58.175]And so I'm happy to hear you mention that,
[00:09:59.967]because I'm beginning to wonder myself
[00:10:01.694]if I'm thinking, well maybe they're not different,
[00:10:03.655]maybe they are the same.
[00:10:05.030]But increasingly seeing it, especially among, you know,
[00:10:08.308]younger people, and it's just,
[00:10:09.847]I'm not saying it's their fault,
[00:10:12.256]it's because the way society and our means
[00:10:14.515]of communication have evolved or developed over time,
[00:10:19.032]that people basically see emails as the same
[00:10:23.192]as text messages and, you know,
[00:10:27.017]a lot of personal and inappropriate, I would say,
[00:10:31.205]arguably inappropriate information is included
[00:10:34.788]in what should be or is intended to be
[00:10:37.849]a professional communication.
[00:10:39.509]And so those lines have become very much blurred
[00:10:44.043]and actually can become really problematic
[00:10:47.381]in any kind of relationship that a person might have
[00:10:54.040]because if you can't separate the two
[00:10:58.625]or it can make you uncomfortable about the situation,
[00:11:01.131]its just, I don't know, I just wanted to jump in,
[00:11:03.620]because I think, and I'm not sure how to fix it,
[00:11:07.635]because I feel like I'm basically, my views are viewed
[00:11:12.149]as the past generation, and so, therefore, it is okay,
[00:11:16.703]to just kind of, you know, have it all be the same.
[00:11:20.027]So, I just wanted to throw out that comment.
[00:11:23.471]Thank you, thank you very much.
[00:11:24.685]I think that helps to underscore the context
[00:11:27.016]and who you're conveying your messages to.
[00:11:32.271]So, if you're conveying your message to someone
[00:11:34.562]of influence, you want to make sure that they look upon you
[00:11:39.629]in a very positive light and a positive manner,
[00:11:42.817]otherwise your message may not be read,
[00:11:45.653]may not be understood, and that doesn't bode well for you.
[00:11:50.080]And especially as you move forward with your careers,
[00:11:52.922]for those of you that are younger,
[00:11:54.753]it's very important to remember that,
[00:11:56.770]because as you're going through your careers,
[00:11:59.095]you're gonna meet a variety of people.
[00:12:01.371]And some individuals may be more open,
[00:12:04.747]and you'll find that out, others not so much.
[00:12:07.670]So you need to know and understand
[00:12:10.757]and remember that in a professional setting,
[00:12:12.774]it's always better to err on the side of caution
[00:12:16.293]rather than just jump right in with both feet
[00:12:20.167]and then finding out later you made a grave mistake.
[00:12:23.735]Because, honestly, people can be very judgmental
[00:12:26.852]and your first impressions are often
[00:12:29.315]the only ones that you get to make.
[00:12:31.126]So you have to be aware of how you're communicating
[00:12:34.583]and the importance of that.
[00:12:36.604]So thank you for underscoring that.
[00:12:41.705](person speaks off mic)
[00:12:47.590](persona speaks off mic)
[00:12:59.112]I'm gonna have my esteemed colleague, Donna,
[00:13:01.450]jump in on that one, 'cause she has an outstanding career
[00:13:05.159]of her own right and has faced that very criticism.
[00:13:08.857]I've been called worse,
[00:13:10.919]but I think that is part of the communication
[00:13:13.942]and it's part of the cultural issues
[00:13:16.923]that I think we're moving through
[00:13:19.359]in terms of gender, equity, and just kind of look
[00:13:23.491]at each other as people and not as one gender
[00:13:26.907]or the other or one source, and that is very often
[00:13:32.154]the criticism is that, you know,
[00:13:34.628]it's the men are assertive, women are aggressive,
[00:13:37.653]you know, all of these languages that are very gendered.
[00:13:41.436]And it is something we just have to work through.
[00:13:43.973]I'll be talking in just a little bit
[00:13:45.337]about the implicit bias.
[00:13:47.018]Those are all facets of implicit bias.
[00:13:49.590]It's okay to be a man, culturally, and pound the table
[00:13:53.926]and do that and make a point and do this.
[00:13:56.241]But if I as a woman do it, I am shrill, I'm
[00:14:02.525]you know, I'm not being, I'm emotional,
[00:14:05.813]and I'm doing all that, and I'm,
[00:14:10.019]I will try not to make a political statement,
[00:14:13.411]but it is very interesting
[00:14:15.334]in this year's presidential election,
[00:14:17.441]because you have a white woman and a white man
[00:14:20.936]that are the same age, the same cohort,
[00:14:24.328]you know, they're my people in terms of age,
[00:14:29.333]and the gendered nature of some
[00:14:32.208]of the comments that are made,
[00:14:34.138]there is very much of a gendered undertone on that.
[00:14:37.907]And all you have to do
[00:14:40.046]regardless of your political persuasion
[00:14:42.138]is just kind of watch that sometimes.
[00:14:44.082]I've started not listening to the political rhetoric,
[00:14:47.214]but just watching what you might say are gendered responses
[00:14:51.403]and then what the media picks up on
[00:14:54.138]about one says about the other or what is said
[00:14:57.325]and how much of that truly is gendered.
[00:14:59.207]To me that's a perfect example
[00:15:01.316]of what shouldn't be happening in terms of attributing
[00:15:06.260]to people that are different,
[00:15:09.535]attributing things to them that
[00:15:11.014]if they were the same gender would not be attributed.
[00:15:13.841]And so, we'll talk a little bit about in implicit bias,
[00:15:16.183]it's not easy to get to the future that we want to get to.
[00:15:24.356](person speaks off mic)
[00:15:31.819]I think, why don't we kind of leave that
[00:15:33.762]till a little bit later when we talk a little bit more
[00:15:35.549]about mentoring when we draw out some,
[00:15:39.304]maybe some examples.
[00:15:40.356]We'll get back to that question.
[00:15:41.623]Please remind us, though.
[00:15:42.952]Yes, and the comment in the back.
[00:15:44.352](person speaks off mic)
[00:16:35.046]Yes, and I agree that sometimes you can go too far
[00:16:38.448]to the other side.
[00:16:40.204]I think it's party in response to some of the issues
[00:16:44.239]that they may have faced
[00:16:45.362]and they feel that's the best way to address it,
[00:16:47.350]but, as you know, it never really is.
[00:16:49.501]You need to, as I mentioned early,
[00:16:53.156]at AWIS we participate in a number of meetings and events
[00:16:56.981]and in the beginning of the organization's formation
[00:17:00.292]and until almost recently we participated
[00:17:03.323]in a number of gender-focused events.
[00:17:06.230]And we've decided that we're not going to do that anymore,
[00:17:09.200]not that we don't wish those people well,
[00:17:11.176]however, we noticed that when we go to the gendered events,
[00:17:14.565]it's the same people in the room talking
[00:17:15.866]about the same issues and nothing gets accomplished.
[00:17:19.327]And we recognized very quickly we need to bring in the men
[00:17:24.973]and talk to the men and have them, again,
[00:17:27.326]act as allies and advocates
[00:17:29.330]in our journey for total equality.
[00:17:31.722]By the way, today is National Woman's Equality day.
[00:17:35.466]I wanted to mention that.
[00:17:37.519]And so, it's very important that you understand
[00:17:40.803]from the communications side
[00:17:43.107]the issues and how to best convey those issues,
[00:17:45.981]otherwise if you go too far, it's just noise to people
[00:17:49.331]and they're gonna close their ears
[00:17:50.378]and they're not gonna hear your message.
[00:17:54.044]Talking about nonverbal skills, eye contact.
[00:17:57.625]This is all in relationship to how the,
[00:18:01.830]how the United States operates.
[00:18:04.424]We could do a whole session on communications
[00:18:06.313]just talking about cultural differences,
[00:18:08.927]but today we're gonna focus just on this slide,
[00:18:12.205]it refers back to here in the United States,
[00:18:15.391]making eye contact is very important.
[00:18:21.231]Sometimes you'll be in sessions
[00:18:23.405]and you'll see people bobbing their heads,
[00:18:25.766]it's like a little dog.
[00:18:27.786]You know, making sure that appropriate head movement.
[00:18:31.768]Stance position open versus closed
[00:18:34.838]when you have your arms crossed.
[00:18:36.864]Gestures, dress, your handshake firm.
[00:18:40.774]If you don't know what kind of handshake you have,
[00:18:42.526]practice with a friend.
[00:18:44.064]Don't make it wimpy, don't make it bone-crushing,
[00:18:46.218]it's a firm handshake.
[00:18:48.422]And then how you enter the room, you know,
[00:18:50.294]you enter the room with confidence.
[00:18:51.649]You don't slink in.
[00:18:55.974]All right, I'm gonna say it, don't sit in the back
[00:18:58.955]if you're a woman, move up to the front,
[00:19:01.709]be assertive, not aggressive, assertive,
[00:19:05.524]assert yourself, move up to the front of the room.
[00:19:08.552]You don't have to always sit in the back of the room.
[00:19:11.877]This is a great picture, the ladies yawning.
[00:19:15.149]Please don't do that in meetings, that, you know,
[00:19:17.981]or if you have to, at least cover your mouth,
[00:19:21.172]because, you know, again, guys,
[00:19:23.473]this must be a really dynamic discussion going on,
[00:19:26.536]you can see by the photo how engaged everyone is.
[00:19:29.882]He's making a temporary tattoo on his arm.
[00:19:36.357]So these are just some of the nonverbal cues
[00:19:38.650]that people pick up on when you are in a meeting
[00:19:42.088]or you're in a room.
[00:19:44.346]So just to be aware of these.
[00:19:46.291]And then the paralanguage that you asked the question about.
[00:19:49.812]Paralanguage is the nonverbal elements of communication
[00:19:53.505]that are used quite often
[00:19:55.715]to modify meaning and convey emotion.
[00:19:58.501]It also includes the ums and the ers that you hear.
[00:20:02.142]When people are speaking oftentimes
[00:20:04.495]in order to fill in the silence, because their brain
[00:20:07.507]is trying to catch up with their mouth,
[00:20:09.994]or they speak too fast and they're not thinking
[00:20:11.917]as fast as they need to,
[00:20:13.312]they'll fill in with the ums and the ers.
[00:20:16.083]But it also refers back to your voice rate,
[00:20:19.029]your volume, your pitch, your inflection,
[00:20:22.304]and the sounds that you produce vocally.
[00:20:24.937]So for women, oftentimes, there'll be an uptick
[00:20:28.820]at the end of a sentence, a declarative sentence,
[00:20:31.791]but they'll ask it like a question.
[00:20:34.303]Somebody will say, "Where are you from?"
[00:20:36.084]And I'll say, "I'm from Washington, D.C.?"
[00:20:38.533]And it sounds like I don't know if I'm from Washington,
[00:20:40.824]I think I am, at least I was last time when I left,
[00:20:43.169]but maybe I'm not anymore.
[00:20:44.826]So, it just,
[00:20:46.289]it diminishes what you're saying when you have that uptick,
[00:20:51.272]because it makes it seem as if you don't exactly know,
[00:20:55.832]or you're unsure as to what you're talking about.
[00:21:00.550](person speaks off mic)
[00:21:13.205](person speaks off mic)
[00:21:16.745]Right, right, right, correct,
[00:21:20.824]very true, very true.
[00:21:22.158]Like, don't you know I'm from Washington, D.C.?
[00:21:23.714]Of course you should know that.
[00:21:25.377](person speaks off mic)
[00:21:27.679]Right, yeah. (laughs)
[00:21:29.950](laughs) Oh, you are?
[00:21:35.355]Right, right, right, right,
[00:21:37.015]exactly, exactly, very good point.
[00:21:40.336]I think the part of this is to the communication,
[00:21:46.313]is of course, that's gonna be so much
[00:21:48.434]of your mentoring experience,
[00:21:50.083]you know, when you're interacting with people,
[00:21:51.587]but the communication is gonna be so much a part of that.
[00:21:55.106]And it's equally important to begin to know
[00:21:59.012]what your communication style is.
[00:22:01.392]My husband knows what mine is.
[00:22:03.225]I'm an introvert but I'm one of those introverts,
[00:22:05.659]my thoughts, I think out loud,
[00:22:08.383]and I just have a little saying
[00:22:10.719]that when I'm trying to figure out something,
[00:22:12.500]I'll just say to him, "I'll just talk
[00:22:15.682]"until I figure out what I want to say."
[00:22:18.230]I'm just talking about something, and so he says,
[00:22:21.226]"Well, tell me when I need to start listening."
[00:22:24.584]And we've kind of got to that point.
[00:22:26.375]It was fine, and I think I actually,
[00:22:28.794]in one of the workshops yesterday,
[00:22:30.539]I was trying to make a point later in the workshop
[00:22:33.499]and I was not making it clearly,
[00:22:36.061]and I think I said something, bear with me
[00:22:38.480]while I figure out the point I'm trying to make to you all.
[00:22:41.639]So sometimes for us as mentors, our own self-knowledge
[00:22:47.253]is understandable and even there is where we can note
[00:22:51.882]the paralanguage or the nonverbal language
[00:22:54.789]if we're mentoring someone and we're talking
[00:22:57.222]and they're kind of.
[00:22:59.794]Trying to figure out what you're saying.
[00:23:01.048]That's kind of a signal to us,
[00:23:02.558]that well maybe I'm not being very clear, so,
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