As you already know, you probably have lots of similarities to, and lots of differences from, your mentee. As you grow your relationship, you will likely bond over the similarities to strengthen the ties between you. You will also bridge the differences between you, allowing each of you to learn something new and access new ideas and ways of thinking.
For some pairs, it is more difficult to notice the similarities. For other pairs, it can be challenging or scary to talk about differences. Bonding and bridging questions can help with either.
A bonding question can help you get more specific about the details of your similarities. For example:
- We both come from big families. Are there members of your family that you're especially close with?
- I notice we both like to relax by listening to music. What do you like to listen to?
A bridging question can help you normalize difference, and show that you are interested in your mentee's life.
- I noticed you really like fashion. Can you tell me more about what you like about it, or how you first got into it?
- I grew up here in the U.S., and you moved here when you were seven. What was it like when you first moved here?
When asking bridging questions, you wind up hearing about your mentee's interests, triumphs and passions. You may also wind up hearing about difficult things that they have gone through - or are currently dealing with. If you're concerned about how to respond, check out this video about the difference between sympathy and empathy, and how to create connection.