Putting oneself in the shoes of the others is a key aspect of all the relationships. In the mentoring process this becomes one of the keys to its success. A good mentor can provide all the most useful advices and guidance and share his/her knowledge, but without a feeling of understanding of the mentee’s situation all his/her efforts will be fruitless.
Empathy is a complex relational process that means understanding the perspectives of the others. It goes far beyond simple compassion, it is rather the mentor’s feeling of personal identification with the experience the mentee is living. Being empathic represents a way of saying “Over my career I have been through the same things as you, I know how you feel, I know it’s challenging, but I am here to help”.
This behavior will immediately reassure mentees and will make them feel that the mentor will provide them his/her own support without judging them. Empathy is also the prerogative for a stable and lasting mentoring relationship.
However, developing this empathic attitude takes time and patience. Mentors will have to open themselves to leaning who their mentees are, what are their expectations and concerns and finding way to be responsive to this.