Why should mentors answer questions with existing answers?

The value of asking – and answering – wonderment questions on the 100mentors platform is multidimensional. Firstly, it allows mentees to think out of the box,  about innumerable things that don’t know much about – in or out of a classroom – or focus on their personal growth and the challenges they face. At the same time, these questions are usually open to many answers and different perspectives and act as the kick-off of a whole conversation of different ideas coming from different people – our mentors.

So, why should mentors respond to questions that already have an answer?

To begin with, it is indeed very important that all types of questions have an answer. Mentors should not hesitate to answer all types of questions– whether they are wonderment questions or those that we consider as basic information (questions that can be googled or have an answer that may be easy to find). Mentees always have their reasons to ask them – and an answer can lead them to think of a “bigger” question. 

But it is just as important that a mentor answer questions that already have answers. Why?

  1. Good answers can generate more good answers. As a mentor, you can watch the answer of another mentor before answering, and think of adding points to help mentees travel on a journey of different perspectives through their questions.
  2. A lot of questions actually need more than one answer, because they might depend on different points of view. An engineer, a doctor, a sales manager, or a farmer will complete the puzzle of different perspectives and go beyond the initial question of the mentee. 
  3. You are always free to consume different answers –  not only the questions you submit. Consider the content of different answers, and use them as an opportunity to question your own belief system, add your thoughts in a new response, or even deconstruct it: Tip: Feel free to mention another mentor’s answer in yours if it inspired you to keep the conversation connected.
  4. Mentors can add different information, agree or disagree, and showcase a pluralistic dialogue. This goes beyond the one-man lecture and brings multiple professionals and academics in front of one question (simple or not). 
  5. Finally, by seeing colleagues of yours answering questions, you understand what it means to be part of this network of ideas and information exchange. You may even make a mentee wonder further and bring more questions to the table. Inquiry, after all, is a cycle of asking and answering questions – not a dead end!

We all need a mentor and some guidance no matter if we are students or young professionals, or further along in our careers. Through 100mentors, a mentor that consumes other mentors’ content can find the guidance or inspiration they seek, too. After all, 100mentors is a community – not just a two sized exchange. Especially in such a period of sudden change, a simple question can be the beginning of inspiration and change itself. 

Circling back to the core point, part of asking a question is being open to many answers, ready to see different perspectives, open to reconsider part of your belief system, change your mind or be sure of what you already believe. A mentor is responsible for helping mentees and genuine inquirers expand their horizons by simply answering byte-sized questions – even when they’ ve already been answered.

That being said, 100mentors gives mentees the opportunity to have multiple mentors and thus multiple perspectives on their questions and also gives mentors the opportunity to think differently. 

Yannis Kourtis is the Mentor Experience Associate at 100mentors. He holds an MA in International Relations and Strategic Studies and has worked as a youth trainer, helping young people to develop life skills beyond the classroom. Yannis is passionate about empowering professionals and academics to leave their legacy by connecting with students worldwide.

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