Skip to content

How to Create Authentic Connections in Mentoring

4 minute read

Why do so many mentoring relationships miss the mark?  Most organizations “smash people together” and send them off on their way without providing guidance on how to create an authentic connection.  Having a strong and genuine bond with others is important not just in a mentoring relationship but also in promoting wellbeing. The strength and legitimacy of your connections will greatly increase the success of your relationship and it is more likely to proceed in the right direction.

What do you mean by Authentic Connection

People tend to build facades in their day to day lives as a way to protect themselves from other people. Having an authentic connection means that you’re comfortable taking down that facade and being able to share vulnerably around that person. Authentic connections also extend to being able to actively listen to one another and always thinking of the best for the other person.

Our Spirit Guide 

Here at AugMentors, we tie each of our principles to a “spirit guide” or someone who embodies our principle to the fullest - In this case, connecting. We sat down and thought about it and realized that there is a clear choice, the one and only Oprah Winfrey, obviously.

There’s no denying that Oprah is considered a powerhouse and an inspiration to many - but how exactly does she build connections with other people and what can we learn from her that we can bring to our mentoring relationships?

Keys to Authentic Connections

As we observed Oprah, we noticed three distinct traits she embodies that we can use in building authentic connections between a mentor(guide) and a mentee(believer):

  • Create space for others to share vulnerably
  • Be an active listener
  • Showing kindness without expectations

Let’s dive deeper and find out how embodying these traits can help you build authentic mentoring connections.

  • Creating Space for Others to Share Vulnerably

Oprah once said:

“Most people think vulnerability is weakness. I live in the space of vulnerability... and that is what has made me so successful.”

Are you able to have your believers drop down their facades and share vulnerably around you? Can you also share openly with them? One of the characteristics people tend to look for someone to open up to is if that person is able to reciprocate vulnerability. If you are able to share comfortably with each other without any doubts that you’ll be able to help one another, then you’re surely on the way to building a successful authentic connection. You might be thinking “What characteristics do I need for people to share more comfortably around me?” Glad you asked!

  • Be You. If people see that you’re staying true to yourself, they too will be able to keep it real when they are around you.
  • Display Curiosity. Show deep interest in what your believer is sharing and invite them to share more. By doing so, they’ll be unconsciously more open to you
  • Empathize. Nothing beats the feeling of somebody knowing the feeling that you’re currently experiencing. Showing empathy and thinking yourself in somebody’s shoes can really help a person be more vulnerable towards you.

Vulnerability is at the Root of Connections and Mentoring

If you’re looking to share stories with your believers, they are looking to learn from your experiences as their mentor. This means that if you’re not sharing yourself fully they will also not share their experiences to you fully. If you tell the whole story and cry, they’ll reciprocate this to you with their own stories. They will always make sure that it is safe to share their full experiences to you before doing so. Vulnerability works for both successes and mistakes and as a mentor, it is your duty to be the first to open up in order for your believers to do so.

  • Be an active listener

Active listening is defined as a conscious effort to hear the complete message of your conversation partner and not just bits and parts of it. Having this trait is vital towards building an authentic connection because this lets your believer know that you’re there to listen through the whole experience they are sharing and thoroughly believe that you’ll be able to give the best advice based on that. 

Oprah’s EARS

One of Oprah’s strengths is her ability to listen.In her interview with Lance Armstrong, she uses her EARS to demonstrate her active listening. We can also use this to be a better active listener to your mentee :

    • Empathy and Engagement. Give your believer your undivided attention. This gives you the opportunity to know the full story and provide empathy accordingly.
  • Ask questions. Asking questions not only gives you a clearer vision of their experience but it also encourages your believer to speak more. 
  • Restate. To ensure that you fully understand them, try and restate what they said. This also lets them know that you’re listening to them.
  • Silence. Not interrupting your believer when they are telling their story is one way to show that you really intend to listen to them and what they have to say.

  • Showing kindness without expectations

Oprah described kindness as not just about giving shelter to homeless people or sponsoring an orphan. True kindness is extending your helping hand or doing a good deed for other people no matter what kind of act it is. In short, kindness is kindness whether it is big or small. 

Showing true kindness to your mentor/mentee can help build up a deeper and stronger connection - and is easier than you may think:

  • Think of what he/she needs. Part of being in a mentoring relationship is making sure that you know what your Guide or Believer needs in order to grow.
  • Be always available to talk. Being a Mentor means that you’ll be ready to talk to your mentee whenever they need to. Your mentee should be able to openly talk to you in order for you to provide the best guidance possible.
  • Provide helpful critique to each other. This is important in making sure that you both grow as a mentor and a mentee.

Kindness is a Contagious Principle

A research published by James Fowler and Nicholas Christakis in the British Medical Journal in 2008 found that people can mimic emotional states they observe in the people around them over time. This means that showing kindness without expecting something in return can be passed on and shared to other people. For example, if you show kindness to your mentee believer, they’ll go on and be kind to their family, friends, etc. and the cycle continues.

According to’s “How A Mentor's Kindness and Generosity Transformed My Life”

What cannot be understated is the importance of giving back and the positive cycle that an act of kindness can start.


At the end of the day, Oprah’s symbols are related to each other. To start an authentic mentoring relationship, you’ll need to make your believers open up to you fully and to do that, you’ll need to listen to them actively every step of the way and finally think of what can you do to make them better and grow even without something in return which is the meaning of true kindness. Incorporating these traits not just in mentoring - but also in your day to day lives guarantees that you’ll build stronger and better authentic connections with anybody. Are you ready to start building your genuine connections? 

If you found this material useful, then please support our mentoring platform with our vision to be a rising tide of mentoring. 


Blog comments