Case: The Mentee without Insight

Key Phrases:

  • Mutual communication skills
  • Giving feedback in the absence of direct observation
  • Feedback when the mentee is competent yet lacks personal insight

Case Scenarios

a) You’ve been working with your mentee for the past few months, and things seem to be going well. One day, two of your colleagues come to you in the cafeteria with concerns about your mentee, saying that he is difficult to work with. However, your mentee seems quite competent in the work he is doing with you, so at your next meeting with your mentee you…?

b) You try to gather more data, and in a lab/clinic meeting you directly observe your mentee putting his foot in his mouth and badly disrupting the flow of the meeting. At your next meeting with your mentee you…?

c) You give feedback to your mentee about the behavior you directly observed, and try to give it a positive spin (“Our work is going well together ‐‐ but I noticed that people in the lab/clinic meeting couldn’t get what you were saying ‐‐ your idea was interesting, but maybe there was another way to approach the issue”). Your mentee says:

  1. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” So you say…..?
  2. “I wasn’t feeling good that day, so maybe people didn’t understand my point.” So you say….?
  3. “They never listen to me ‐‐ they are always stuck on their own ideas and don’t give me any credit – they’re just jealous.” So you say…..?
  4. “I think that Dr. X has it out for me ‐‐ and I thought you said I was doing a good job on our project.” So you say…..?

d) You begin to believe that your mentee doesn’t clearly hear or distorts your feedback, and even may have personality issues that would make it difficult for him to change his behavior. You therefore…….?


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