Chartered Institute
of Linguists

International Mentoring Day

Mentoring in troubled times

By Steve Doswell, CIOL Chair of Council

Today, 17 January 2024, is International Mentoring Day – a day to celebrate the power and impact of mentoring in personal growth and development, our working lives, education and in building our communities. 

CIOL offers a free Mentoring platform, supported by an expert UK-based third-party supplier PLD who specialises in supporting communities of practice like ours to share and support knowledge exchange, sharing expertise and personal growth. But any mentoring platform is only valuable if people join it and use it. We have many experienced linguists who have offered themselves as mentors, but experienced people also recognise they are always learning and developing so the best mentoring relationships enrich both parties.

Mentoring can be especially uplifting for individuals who feel the market environment, the challenges faced in education, the continuous advance of AI and technology and indeed the state of the world, leaves them feeling isolated or downhearted. It’s worth noting that on the world stage mentoring has contributed toward fostering development, peace processes and the advancement of human rights over the last 60 years. And yet for many, 2024 feels more troubled than for many years by conflict; only adding to the troubling effects of natural disasters, global warming and the pandemic we have recently experienced. 

Such world events affect all of us but can impact each of us in different ways. So how can we mentor during times of global turmoil? Three suggestions from our Mentorship partners PLD for International Membership Day are:

Compassion – listen and look out for feelings, tread gently, demonstrate compassion and ask open questions, and not seek to rush to give answers.

Language sensitivity – it should go without saying for linguists, but it is useful to remind ourselves to be careful of cultural and linguistic differences in our communications especially when mentoring in times of conflict.

Encourage self-care – where people are distracted by worries and stresses, they very often do not prioritise their own health; and yet times of anxiety are when it’s most important to focus on self-care.  Exercising, eating healthily, participating in leisure activities and getting plenty of sleep are a few key things we can all do to take care of ourselves and it is right to remind each other of this too – especially early in a New Year. 

At the same time we have to recognise the limits of mentoring – a mentor is not a mental health professional and cannot be a substitute for professional support. Within mentoring, perhaps the greatest ‘care’ technique is simply to listen. As someone who has gained a lot from both sides of the mentoring relationship and also from extensive exposure to different languages and cultures, I believe that being open to simply listening is very often the best route to helping others – as well as to learn oneself.

Happy International Mentoring Day!

Steve Doswell MCIL Chartered Linguist is a member of the Chartered Institute of Linguists and is Chair of CIOL Council.

Steve will be speaking at CIOL Translators Day on 15 March 2024 where he will also be leading the panel discussion: 'Managing change: specialisation, diversification and adapting to and adopting new tech and tools' - early bird tickets available here.

Views expressed on CIOL Voices are those of the writer and may not represent those of the wider membership or CIOL.