Do you ever feel like our generation is constantly singled out as one which is pampered, spoiled and addicted to technology? Sometimes millennials are portrayed in the media as a homogeneous bunch without any individuality at all. With this blatant stereotyping going on it’s not surprising then that we experience a gap in understanding with the generations who grew up before us.
But this need not be the case, we can play our part in helping our elders to understand our modern ways, while we too learn to accept the way that they live their lives. We are all shaped by our own individual experiences in this world and so, us millennials have much to learn from older generations, and they may want to come to face that we might be able to teach them a thing or two in our own way.
Here’s how we, as millennials, can do our part to bridge the gap between our generation and everyone else.
Demonstrate an Eagerness to Learn
One of the quickest ways to help older people accept that millennials aren’t spoiled know-it-alls is to exhibit a passion for learning. Sure, we may not like to admit that there are gaps in our knowledge, but deep down everyone knows that they can stand to learn from a more experienced person.
Be it a family member or co-worker, letting a member of a different generation share a hard-won lesson with you can be one of the best ways to bridge the gap. This shows that you value the experience they have gained from being around longer than you which is generally much appreciated.
Share the Wealth
On the flip side of learning from other generations, be prepared to share your wealth of knowledge. Millennials have been using technology since we were babies, while older generations have seen technology develop over time and may not have kept up to date with all of the latest tools and trends. Millennials are aware of how fast new technologies are developed but it doesn’t faze us. By sharing our native fluency with technology and social media with older generations who want to learn we can open up a new way for us all to communicate more effectively.
It’s not just technology where we have the edge. Being raised in a world where openness of communication is prized, where individuality, and acceptance for different lifestyles is the norm makes us a very different creature than those who were raised in more traditional times. We tend to do positive reinforcement naturally, let’s share this ability with others who could benefit.
Embrace your Differences
At the end of the day, there are going to be differences between those of us born in 1995 and those born in 1955. The world has changed significantly over this time period and we need to accept that. We won’t always see eye to eye or choose to approach life in the same way, but by acknowledging this from the start, we can avoid conflict. Let older generations look back wistfully on their younger days, we do it with our childhood too! Allow them the time and space to air thoughts and opinions and engage in serious discussion on topics that are important to you, just try not to let the discussion become too heated.
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Find Common Ground
Whatever your passion is there is sure to be an area of common interest with people from older generations. Whether you are into fashion, music or movies, chatting to someone who was there in the past days of your interest can be hugely enlightening and even exciting. That guy who sits at the other end of your office may have been front row at a David Bowie gig during the Ziggy Stardust era. Or your aunt may have rocked the grunge chic look before you were even a twinkle in your father’s eye. Shared passions are great fun, no matter what age we are.
Age is Just a Number
At the end of the day, try to remember that age is just a number. We’re all people at the end of the day, and really we all want to get along as best we can. When an older family member or work colleague is showing their age in a less than impressive manner, try to view them as the person they are, shaped by all of their life experiences, rather than just a blank reflection of their age. Millennials show our age and inexperience too, albeit in different ways.
No generation knows it all, we can all stand to learn from others and can gain by sharing our expertise. An open, inclusive approach is the best way to foster great relationships with other generations. By demonstrating an eagerness to bridge the gap on our side older generations may be encouraged to interact with millennials on a more meaningful basis.