Storytelling and Mentoring
Storytelling can be a powerful tool. When used in a mentoring context, it can allow your mentee to put themselves in your shoes and gain a much better understanding of the point you are attempting to make.
However, in telling stories, one must also be cognizant of whether or not the mentee will identify with the situation in your story. For example, if you’re telling a story about the time the mimeograph failed to work properly destroying your opportunity to make a stellar presentation (you failed to plan your time appropriately), well someone in their 20’s is going to look at you like you’re from outer space. Most likely s/he has no idea what in the world a mimeograph is. And once you explain it, they’re going to think you’re from a different age and what you have to say is not relevant to them.
Not that time travel can’t be fun, but be sure you’re providing a relevant story to your mentee and one with which they will identify and actually get the point.
I love telling stories, but frankly I have to keep myself in check. At times I have so much fun telling the stories (I can entertain myself for hours!), that I might lose track of the point I’m trying to make. And I guess entertaining myself isn’t always the best use of someone else’s time.
Stories are a great way to empathize with your mentee. Make them germane and a little humor doesn’t hurt either.