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5 ways to leverage your coach or mentor for support now

Like many organizations, we at Torch have publicly shared our statement condemning systemic racism in the United States, and we stand in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Last week we witnessed conversations about privilege and systemic racism being brought to the forefront in the media and within our homes and offices. As our CEO Cameron wrote in our public statement, “The murders of Ahmaud Arbery (February 23, 2020), Breonna Taylor (March 13, 2020), and George Floyd (May 25, 2020) are only three recent examples of the centuries-long tradition of foundational violence towards Black, Indigenous, and People of Color in the United States.” 

It’s been a heavy time for many people as we’re confronting a swirl of emotions – unsure of how to talk with others to make a difference, fear of saying the wrong thing, not feeling like talking about these issues at work, feeling like we must talk about these issues at work, wanting to check out, wanting to spend all day marching together. 

For those of us who are able to work with a trusted coach or mentor, now is the time to leverage their expertise for support and growth. This article was created after we received feedback from our customers that a guide on how to best leverage coaches and mentors during this time of civil unrest would be beneficial. We hope that this provides support whether you work with a Torch coach or mentor, your own coach or mentor, or put these ideas to use when speaking with a trusted advisor in your life. 

Here are five ways you can leverage your coach or mentor for support now.

1. Processing emotions around civil unrest

One of the benefits that coaching and mentoring provides is a space for people to show up however they are feeling at a particular moment in time. In order to process our emotions, whatever they may be, we need a safe space in which to share them. Your coach or mentor holds this space for you and can support you in defining your emotions and finding the right adaptive processing to deal with them in a healthy way. 

Your coach or mentor can also help you process your emotions around current events more specifically. Perhaps you’re feeling motivated or inspired by civil unrest around the country. Perhaps you’re angry that we are where we are today. Perhaps you don’t feel supported by your company or leadership or are having a hard time discussing current events. Use time with your coach or mentor to create a productive plan for moving forward. 

2. Roleplaying difficult conversations 

Maybe your manager hasn’t said anything about the Black Lives Matter movement or systemic racism in the United States. Maybe they have, but you don’t agree with their approach or feel like something is missing. Maybe you want to discuss your emotions around current events with your team, but you don’t know how yet. A coach or mentor is a great person to roleplay these difficult conversations with. They can help you think of conversational objections and how you might respond, building your confidence. 

3. Exploring unconscious bias

For those of us whose time it is to step up and be allies, it’s important to work with a coach or mentor in unpacking unconscious biases so they can be addressed. You could consider an evaluative measure, using a tool like the Implicit Association Test which measures the strength of associations between concepts (e.g., Black people, gay people) and evaluations (e.g., good, bad) or stereotypes (e.g., athletic, clumsy). Discuss those results with your coach or mentor, or have an unstructured conversation about how current events are bringing biases into your awareness and how you can overcome them. 

4. Discussing articles/book chapters together 

There are many great articles being published and re-circulated about how to process your emotions now, how to have difficult conversations, explore unconscious bias and more. Check out this compilation of Anti-racism resources by Sarah Sophie Flicker and Alyssa Klein. 

Using some of your time with a coach or mentor to discuss what you’re taking away from these articles or books is a way to help you think through taking the knowledge off the page and putting it into action. 

5. Continue talking about leadership development 

Using time with your coach or mentor to continue talking about leadership development is still on the table. While your coach and mentor provide a safe space to talk about deeper issues and how current events are impacting you, it can also be helpful to keep going with your conversations around leadership development. Particularly if you feel some conversation fatigue, continue using your coach or mentor to focus on professional development. 

As an employee who recently started receiving coaching again, I can attest to the support that having this trusted one-on-one relationship brings. Sometimes, we just need that person to act as our mirror, helping us unpack one thought at a time in order to make sense of everything that’s swirling around in our minds. 

If you’re not working with a coach or mentor now, you could use any of these ideas with a trusted manager or outside of work with a friend or family member.