Whether it’s purely a cultural choice or economic necessity, we are seeing an increase in tow or three generations living together. This is even more prevalent in the workplace. So we need to get proficient and comfortable with initiating #cross-generational conversations and connections.
(Traditionalist generation) actress and author Marlo Thomas wrote about the benefits of multigenerational bonding she experienced since childhood hanging out with her father Danny Thomas’ fellow comedian friends.
Her advice on connecting with people of other generations you would like to connect with: Don’t make defensive jokes about your age difference; don’t try to force your wisdom and experience on them. Do smile and introduce yourself the way you would with a peer in age. Do share a bit of your story to begin. Importantly, listen to their story.
I am periodically asked about tips for intergenerational networking in a business context. Networking with people of other generations is a great pleasure to me and has resulted in many good friendships and business connections. As with all personal and professional relationships, the best way to nurture the connection is to show sincere interest in the other person, show respect, and appreciate what you can learn from each other.
Don’t expect too much until several interactions have built a bond. If you are thinking mostly of the ongoing time commitment rather than the value of connection, you will not reap the benefits of ties to the future with those younger and the wisdom and perspective of those older than you.
Phyllis Weiss Haserot www.pdcounsel.com