Mental Triggers – Emotional Prompts Affecting Collaborative Conversations Between Mentors and Mentees

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Natural Educator 3919 introduces 7 mental triggers mentor - emotional prompts mentee that affect the collaborative conversations between mentors and mentees.  

What are Mental Triggers - Emotional Prompts?

Mental triggers & emotional prompts drive action and highlight feelings associated with next steps of every mentoring arrangement and relationship - that is, triggers and prompts influence movement towards something the mentor, the mentee, and together they value.

Trigger = a mental spark to drive attention to something - in this case, bring a point to the conversation that hinders or helps the conversation
Prompt = an emotional alarm to highlight something - in this case, bring a feeling interpretation to the conversation that hinders or helps the conversation

These triggers-prompts help establish-sustain mentee-mentor collaborative conversations and the associated action_outcomes - WHEN USED CORRECTLY!

Conversely, these triggers-prompts may result in hindering conversations that lead to the closure of the mentoring arrangement.


As a mentor, with your awareness of these triggers//prompts, you can ask your mentee to explore and discover them before they appear or when they appear. In time, the mentee can reciprocate.

From a mental - logical approach - alerting each other to the trigger//prompts with questions can lessen the unwanted emotional ties to the prompt. Then you can explore the trigger through the use of questions which often takes the emotional ties away.

However, the conversation may bring an emotional prompt forward that has established ties to an mental trigger that could hinder the relationship. From this perspective, approach the presence of these prompts in a proactive (preparation-prevention) way. It does not help the mentee-mentor to hide these emotions.

Therefore, as the mentor explore and discover the possible effects these mental triggers-emotional prompts may have on the mentee. 

It's suggested you weave these triggers/prompts into the conversation based on your best judgment. Often, when you listen to the mentee (and reflect from within) the presence of a trigger or prompt is heard, deal with it quickly.

As the Co-Founder of International Mentoring Community, Doug Lawrence often says, "Deal with situations quickly - this would be part of effective communication - to listen for
triggers and guide the conversation to where it helps both the mentor and mentee!"

The following 7 triggers//prompts are from a Mentoring for the Workplace program (adult perspective). Adjustments are necessary for children and youth programs. 

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7 Mental Triggers//Emotional Prompts from the Mentor's Perspective

This list is random. You (the mentor) have to discern which of them is present - at the time - and take the appropriate action for the mentee.

The source of the list - the 7 key features of an extraordinary experience (EX2) 

Consequential ... relatable, far-reaching, significant - sharing your voice ~ mastery ~ position based on lived experience ... sharing your authorship of a life well-lived - sharing general insights through stories

Trigger: the mentor offers too much too soon, mentee becomes overwhelmed - confused as to where to start 

Prompt: overwhelm/confusion challenges the mentee's self-concept (worthiness); self-talk (doubt)

Mentor Reflection: Are you asking the mentee to drink from a fire hose? Are you piling on life hacks? Is the mentee experiencing  generalized overload (too much too soon)?

Transferable … interchangeable, assignable, negotiable - sharing insights relevant for significance, shift, and satisfaction ... while stories are great, when the mentor moves into specifics suggesting scenarios worth action ... does the mentee have enough insight to make an informed decision?

Trigger: the mentor pushes or pulls to hard to land specific ideas and insights worth taking action

Prompt: confusion via ignorance challenges the mentee's assessment of capabilities and competence

Mentor Reflection: What is your agenda to push or pull specific actionable suggestions? Does it hinder or help the mentee?

Dramatic ... considerable, noticeable, sensational - sharing stories that impact/spark inspiration - hoping the mentee catches the meaning of the story says "for-sure yes!" [like the hero's journey storyline]

Trigger: the mentor dramatizes the stories in such a way that aspects of the self-concept of the mentee are poked - when the mentee reflects inward, "I couldn't possibly do that!" - and whether they talk about it or hide these feelings 

Prompt: if the mentee feels as through their life story is challenged - am I worthy? - this self-evaluation without correct criteria can be soul destroying (Not attempting to over dramatize here) - and yet, self-talk is powerful!

Mentor Reflection: What is the story about? When do you invite the mentee into the story conversation - as you share it or at the end? [Either approach must be done correctly to ensure understanding and evolvement.] 

Workable ... practical, feasible, realistic - this criteria can link to the three above when sharing possible suggestions or guiding the mentee's direction; however, let's consider if the mentoring arrangement/relationship is workable 

Trigger: becomes a question of what type of relationship like friendship, peer, or colleague by the type of arrangement - if the mentor and mentee are not on the same page as to the relationship in the arrangement ... then, there is an unnatural flow to the conversation (think discussion hiccups)

Prompt: in this scenario, both the mentor and mentee maybe on edge - feeling as though they are not taken seriously - which can lead to conversation withdrawal, awkwardness, and confusion

Mentor Reflection: Remember - the mentee guides the initial relationship parameters (mentor listens to the mentee); the mentor guides the arrangement parameters (mentor shares guidelines based on mentee's requirements and requests); eventually together the relational arrangement gains flow and naturalness

Metaphoric … figurative, symbolic, representative - sharing metaphoric (metaphors, analogies, similes --> broadly called metaphors hereon) ideas and insights to illustrate processes and outcomes ... explaining something through pictures, colors, shapes, etc. 

Trigger: A metaphor may or may not land with the mentee; and possibly the metaphor may spark an intrusion on the mentee's psyche ... like using war stories to illustrate strategic decision-making (while appropriate in some situations, remain alert to the situation in which it's used)

Prompt: some metaphors for the mentee may have feelings attached like loss and hurt; and when shared in the mentoring conversation can spark a emotional swing that seems in came out of left field, up in the bleachers, where the window blows through (an example here)

Mentor Reflection: what has been written above can apply to you, thus remain alert. Have you asked the mentee to share metaphors for their topics they want to discuss? [Them you have insight into what might work!] Ask the mentee if a metaphoric you think is helpful would work? [Doing so you can gain insight to potential prompts and identify possible pathways to guide the mentee = grow-grow situation.]

Safer … protected, secure, shielded - sharing truth, trust, and transparency, because of shared competence and commitment - to make it safer for both ... takes time to establish trust; in a moment it's gone

Trigger: entering the arrangement, and as the mentee estblishes the relationship - it may be a case of I don't what I'm to do (says the mentee) - and from a place of angst - because newness brings anxiety until dynamic balance is shared

Prompt: anxiety is a reflection of high challenge and low competence - and from a mentee's perspective that can be challenging and bring to the surface questions of "Oh my gosh now what do I do?" These feelings can occur at the beginning and throughout the shared time - therefore, remain alert to triggers and prompts.

Also, when a mentor is challenged with lack of competence - then triggers and prompts are highlighted. Best response - "Great question? Let's find an answer together!" Because a mentor can learner from the mentee as well ... 

Mentor Reflection:  Are you vigilant to the safer standards and practices of mentoring? Tjose you know as a mentor? Tose you agree upon with the mentee? and - Upon entry? As you Start up the arrangement and relationship? As you Move the conversations? When Closing the arrangement and relationship? 

Novel ... original, fresh, imaginativesharing experience awareness, yet staying inside the intention boundary of the arrangement ... going down gopher holes is not helpful 

Trigger: new ideas that link to the intention of the arrangement and relationship with the mentee are aWELLsome! However, when either the mentor or mentee experience tangential stories that weaken the arrangement and relationship - then, it's best to avoid those conversations. Discussions of country-regional politics - if they do not fit into the intention of the mentoring agreement - it's best not to go there at the beginning (or at all). If the relationship can handle such conversations later - then agree to do so, and enjoy!

Prompt: tangential stories are sometimes fun to explore under the banner of getting to know one another. However, they lead to places of bad gossip or disclosing information that are not relevant to the mentoring agreement, they are best left out. Often triggers and prompts are hidden in these conversation points. 

Mentor Reflection: Are you aware when a tangential story enters the conversation? Are you aware when gopher hole stories enbter the conversation?

When conversations expose deep beliefs and perceptions, and (assumptions and opinions) it's best to find out if this addition to the mentoring conversation will hinder or help. Often, with beliefs are associated feelings - and what will those feelings trigger?  

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Onward ... 


In Closing Mental Triggers Mentor 3919 ...
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