Setting boundaries as a mentor is important. Your boundaries might include when you’re available and the types of topics you want to focus on. You started setting boundaries in your mentoring contract by agreeing on norms for your mentor/mentee relationship. Here are some tips to help you continue to navigate this topic:
- If your mentee brings up a topic that you feel is outside the boundaries you’ve established and/or are comfortable with, it’s okay to say “that topic isn’t something I’m really able to help you answer in my role as an academic mentor but I hear how important it is to you. How about you bring that up to (insert the person here).”
- You are always welcome to suggest they reach out to Katie Elmes if you’re not sure who else to suggest.
- If you feel like you and your mentee aren’t following some of the boundaries you agreed on, revisit what those are.
- For example, it’s okay to wait to respond until it’s the agreed upon time.
- You can also say something like “I’m not available right now but I’ll get back to you (insert agreed upon time)” or “it’s outside of our times right now to check-in but I’m looking forward to responding tomorrow!”
- When you meet the next time, feel free to let them know why you have those boundaries – sometimes this helps people understand it’s not that you don’t want to hear from them, it’s that you are keeping your life balanced.
- If you feel like you need to have a conversation about boundaries with your mentee that feels difficult, or any conversation that feels difficult, reach out to Katie (
firstname.lastname@example.org) for support.
- Watch the video below which has some good tips to help you prepare.
- View the Difficult Conversations - Keep Mentor Relationships on Track article in the Actions. It is another resource about difficult conversations.
- This handbook, while made for mentoring youth, has points that are incredibly helpful for all mentoring situations.