Lesson 1. Causes of Conflict
Conflicts are inevitable in a mentor’s relationship with a mentee, as in most relationships, and problem solving is required. Let’s look closer at what conflicts can occur within mentorship relationship:
- PERSONAL ISSUES
Unfortunately, incompatibility between a mentor and a mentee can occur. This incompatibility may result from conflicting personalities e.g., there are cases when one person (either one of them or both) can be dominant and that can lead to frustration in the long run and, in this situation, confrontation and open discussion may not be an alternative.
Poor chemistry and a lack of personal connection are among other personal issues that are faced in a mentoring relationship. It is not realistic to expect that every mentor and mentee will bond and become close. However, every mentoring relationship should be a mutual relationship. Therefore, it should start with a conversation about what both participants are looking to get out of this relationship and they should be able to feel comfortable discussing issues with each other.
- PROFESSIONAL ISSUES
The mentoring relationship may present a number of issues or dilemmas. Besides the personal issues, professional conflict can reduce the efficiency of mentoring and professional development for both parties. Some of the professional issues faced can be summarized as different work styles and unrealistic expectations. Different work style conflicts may result from different preferences on accomplishing a task and goal: this may be observable in a way that one of them works quickly and moves onto the next task as soon as possible, while the other one prefers to complete it slowly and mindfully.
In terms of unrealistic expectations, the mentor should know that the point of a mentorship is not to tell the mentee what to do. If a mentor sets goals and tasks without assessing the mentee’s background (knowledge and skills) and overshares, this can cause a setback for self-improvement and other negative emotions.
- CONFLICT OF INTERESTS
Conflict of interests can arise in a mentoring relationship. As defined by Cambridge, conflict of interest is a situation in which someone’s private interests are opposed to that person’s responsibilities to other people. It is a clash that often occurs between a requirement and interests due to the nature of the mentoring relationship versus the personal and professional interests of the mentor and mentee. A conflict of interests is also associated with ethical dilemmas. This can impact on making decisions and the guidance process in mentoring.