DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a young woman in my life who is important to me. I consider myself her mentor. She calls whenever she needs anything, and I do my best to be available at a moment’s notice. I am beginning to see, though, that when I need her, she is often MIA. If I text or call her, I may have to follow up three or four times before she responds. Meanwhile, if she texts or calls me, I do my best to drop everything to make time for her. I don’t like how this is balancing out.
I feel like maybe she is taking advantage of my kindness. I do know that she is busy building her career while my work is slowing down, but still I think I deserve the basic respect of having her get back in touch with me in a timely manner. What should I say to her? -- Feeling Unappreciated
DEAR FEELING UNAPPRECIATED: You have touched on something that is likely key in this relationship: Your mentee is actively growing her career as yours is slowing down. I doubt that she means to be unavailable or unresponsive to you. Probably she is swept up in the rush of her life and is oblivious to her actions. This, by the way, does not give her a pass. It just gives perspective on why she may be MIA at times when you reach out to her.
Part of your mentoring should include you finding a way to talk to her about what’s been happening between you. Schedule a time to talk when you can let her know that she is not being responsive when you need her, and this hurts your feelings. Point out from a bigger-picture perspective that if this is happening with you, it is most likely happening with others. Recommend that your mentee make lists of who she’s engaging and whether she is following up with them in a timely manner. Make it clear to her that follow-through is important on the road to success.