Socratic Mentoring. Do it.

The Socratic method of questioning is named after the Greek philosopher Socrates (469 BC–399 BC). Socratic questioning is a way to mentor or coach someone. It is used to invoke critical thinking. Socratic Mentoring involves a shared dialogue between mentor and mentee. The Mentor leads by posing thought-provoking questions. Mentees actively engage by asking questions of their own. The discussion goes back and forth. If you want to find a mentor online or anywhere, make Socratic Mentoring part of your criteria for selecting a mentor. If you want to be a mentor, learn the Socratic method.

“Socratic questioning is a systematic process for examining the ideas, questions, and answers that form the basis of human belief. It involves recognizing that all new understanding is linked to prior understanding, that thought itself is a continuous thread woven throughout lives rather than isolated sets of questions and answers.” (Copeland, M. (2005), p. 7-8)

The benefits of Socratic mentoring are that mentees learn to find answers to their questions inside themselves. The method allows for development of critical thinking habits and evolution of ideas and beliefs. Both the mentor and mentee learn in the process. Using a Socratic Method, we learn that people are individuals and we learn to respect differences without negative judgement. As a mentor we gain deeper understanding of our mentees and therefore may offer different guidance than we would without a questioning process. We learn about ourselves as well.

“The Socratic Method has evolved to include Socratic circles and Socratic seminars.” I call these groups Socratic Masterminds and they can be very effective in business. “Participants are encouraged to ‘paraphrase’ essential elements of another’s ideas before responding, either in support of, or in, disagreement. Members of the dialogue look each other in the ‘eyes’ and use each other names. This simple act of socialization reinforces appropriate behaviors and promotes team building.” (Socratic Seminars). The questioning process in a group environment increases learning curves for each member and they learn more, quicker. Each member in the group learns from each other’s success and failures so they can turn their personal Struggles into Opportunities into Success. SOS.
Use the Socratic Method to mentor and train the Millennials in your company and watch them grow and achieve for you. Make it part of your mentoring program. Include it in your mentoring definitions and make it part of your mentor training. Thanks for reading.

Mike Garska, President.

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