Power of Collaborative Mentoring: The Genuine Contact Way

Collaborative Mentoring through Music

Typically, one associates mentoring with the act of someone older, more experienced or knowledgeable, giving advice to someone younger, less knowledgeable and experienced than them. With traditional mentoring, it is assumed that the mentees benefit from the guidance provided by the mentor.

Can mentoring also be collaborative? If so, how do age, experience, and knowledge show up in this case? Who all benefit from the process of collaborative mentoring?

Collaborative Mentoring

Recently I experienced the power of what I imagine collaborative mentoring to be. I am a part of the Genuine Contact (GC) list serve, where all those who practice the Genuine Contact way of facilitation share updates and news from all around the globe; this time around one GC practitioner shared an idea around a ‘transfer in’ activity that she intended to do with a group of musicians. Owing to the nature of their work, the idea she had was to invite them to think of any sound and use that to transfer in, into the meeting. With her sharing of this idea on the list serve, she was keen to know if someone else had any thoughts or similar experiences related to this.

This invitation generated a spark of more ideas and suggestions of similar experiences were shared. Above all, each reply was filled with encouragement that the idea will work well. As a result, the facilitator who had initiated this thread happily confirmed, ‘I am absolutely going to try it tomorrow and see how it works.’

I remember waiting excitedly for her to share her experience of trying it out, and sure enough, came her email as per her promise! I smiled as her email started with, ‘we had a beautiful transfer in’ 😊. As I read her sharing of the entire process, as it unfolded for her, I was in awe. How connected all the participants must have felt with each other, the facilitator, as well as the purpose of the meeting.

As if to confirm my feeling, the facilitator also shared that in the end, ‘one of the members said she had a sound and took out her violin and played the sound that was for her the culmination of her feeling as she was transferring out.’ This participant shared that what she was feeling was beyond words and so this sound she played would best communicate how she felt. I could sense the trust that the participant must have felt, both within, as well as with the collective, to be able to allow herself this openness. I was feeling assured, even from outside the mentoring circle that learning must have happened, which is one of the core values of the GC way.

Then I heard a little voice inside my own head, echoing the words of the facilitator, ‘I am absolutely going to try it out’ soon! Interestingly, a few others also wrote in, congratulating her, and expressing their desire to use some of the ideas that had come up in the thread, adding to the original transfer in idea. I noticed that in the process of this collaborative mentoring, the ages added up, experience doubled, and knowledge deepened, not only for the 1 person who was seeking this; all others on the listserve benefitted tremendously.

Turning Learning Into Action

Thankfully very soon I got an opportunity to try one of the suggestions related to a transfer in activity from this thread. It was an online mentoring circle that I was facilitating. I invited the participants to close their eyes and listen to the sounds in their environment and then I linked the reflection question to it. It was such an ‘aha’ moment for the participants as well as for me! The meeting kicked off with the participants feeling connected to the purpose of the meeting from this activity itself, and thus it turned out to be so productive for everyone attending it.

In another online mentoring circle, I invited the participants to think of a line of their favourite song, and then again connected it to the purpose of the meeting. I went one step further by inviting them to sing it as well, in case they would like to. This activity lifted the spirit of each participant and I feel so happy to share that each one of them also sang their favourite line! Happy participants make meetings happier still, is my greatest takeaway from this experience of collaborative mentoring 😊. When participants find ‘heart and meaning’ in any meeting, its outcome will always be achieved.

The Power of Collaborative Mentoring the Genuine Contact Way

From this experience I could further see the power of working with Genuine Contact, especially the following two aspects:

  1. Significance of the circle – it proved to me that learning is never ending and thus cyclic; it is a continuous process of engagement with each other.
  2. Power of collective wisdom – the emphasis being on the potential inside everyone, unique to their own being, irrespective of age, knowledge, experience; these will come to shine using the Genuine Contact Way, which believes in the wisdom of each person, and thus focuses on ways to bring this forth.

I also noticed the power of ‘and’ instead of ‘but’ – the value of adding to each other’s perspectives and ideas and thus creating an environment which enables learning for everyone. This especially in our current world, where divisiveness and discrimination are at their peak, a simple shift of using ‘and’ to build on to something, rather than destroying what already exists would be so wonderful 😊.

Photo by Akshar Dave on Unsplash


  • Tulika Mehra

    Tulika has been associated with the development sector in India since 2001. Her work has taken her to many rural, semi-urban and slum locations across India. She has worked on several social issues like youth empowerment, communal harmony, disability, and animal welfare. Currently, she is playing the role of a facilitator, using the GC way in an organisation transformation process at NIIT Foundation, India. Besides this, she also facilitates workshops in India, as a freelancer.

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  1. Elisabeth Tepper
    | Reply

    Dear Tulika,

    I just loved the way you made me remember the whole thread. Thank you so much for this.



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