The purpose of a mentor, at its heart, is to help the mentee navigate his or her life, whether that be through helping them develop life skills, connect with their community or peers, or reach any other personal goals that he or she has. And while there are dozens, there are definitely a few traits that a mentor should have in order to be successful in this.
To start, mentors should be good listeners. New adults will be going to their mentors for guidance with their problems, their worries, and their goals and many will feel as though they do not have other people in their lives that will listen to them. If a mentor cannot listen attentively to their mentee, in addition to making the mentee feel unimportant or misunderstood, they will not be able to effectively offer the experienced insight in the first place. To make their mentee feel their voice is being heard and keep the lines of communication open, a mentor should give their mentee their full attention during meetings.
Another key trait of a good mentor is patience. Patience is important throughout the mentoring relationship. Some new adults might come into the relationship hesitant to open up to their mentor and communicate honestly about themselves and their goals for the relationship and so it might take time for the mentor and mentee to connect on an effective level. A good mentor should be able to patiently continue the relationship, continuing to listen, support the mentee as best as possible, and remain accessible until the mentee is ready to open up. Additionally, some new adults will have difficulty achieving their goals during the relationship. They may have setbacks or take longer than expected to make progress. A good mentor should not become frustrated. Rather, they should listen, try to understand why the goal was not reached, and help him or her get back on the right track.
Going hand-in-hand with patience is persistence. If things do not go according to plan and goals prove harder to achieve, a mentor must not give up on their mentee. They must be ready to encourage their mentee to keep trying and continue to support them. Not only does this help the mentee to achieve their goals, it communicates another message: I believe in you. And this, for many new adults, is an invaluable sentiment.
A fourth key trait is commitment. A mentor might be a good listener, patient, and persistent but if they do not have a genuine desire to guide their mentee, than other traits do not matter. Good mentors want to improve the lives of their mentees. And only when a mentor is committed to the relationship and willing to treat it with the importance that it is, can they truly understand the issues of their mentee and share with them the wisdom that makes them so valuable.