I often find myself in conversations with people from older generations, and time and time again, I am asked the question: how can I reach Millennials?
I can’t speak for every person 35 and under because we are all limited by our own social lenses and life experiences. As an “older” Millennial (I just turned 35 this week), I’ve spent time with other Millennials from all walks of life—urban, professionals, academic, some with money and some without, some who are religious and some who are not.
Millennials are just as varied as any other people group, and there are also similarities among us. To establish connections with Millennials, understand that we are vastly unique. Here are 5 additional things to consider if you want to reach Millennials…
1. You Can Be Real with Millennials
Fast cars, new technology, shiny gadgets, glitter, and unicorns are very impressive—and even these things pale in comparison to the feeling you get when you realize you’re in a conversation with someone who is being real. When you show us who you are, Millennials know what we can expect from you. A genuine connection with someone who is real is priceless.
2. You Can Invite Millennials into Conversation
No one is ever prepared to learn a new life lesson, and looking back, there are always things we could’ve done better or differently. The process of trying and doing engages Millennials—after all, we are the Gold Star generation. We don’t need harsh judgment and criticism when things don’t go smoothly. If you find yourself moved to offer feedback to a Millennial, invite us into conversations where suggestions and new ideas can be mutually explored.
3. You Can Count On Millennials to Communicate
With the world at our fingertips, the entire world is our community. Millennials are constantly looking for efficient ways to communicate in order to maintain a wide base of community connections. We communicate with graphics, symbols, links and acronyms. We’d rather text or use social media than talk on the phone because in the time it takes to make one phone call we could have communicated with how many people? We use apps and sometimes we use hashtags instead of complete sentences. The advancements of technology make the lives and experiences of people from all over the globe more tangible, and it expands how Millennials think of and engage in community.
4. You Can Expect Millennials To Be Loyal
Just because something has always been done a certain way doesn’t mean it’s the most efficient way and Millennials value efficiency because Millennials value loyalty. We are loyal to people, traditions and resources. If doing something is not honorable, or if it is exhausting time or energy, why do it? For us, everything should have a point. Millennials are loyal to the expectation that our encounters and experiences either carry us on a journey or carry us to a destination.
5. You Can Collaborate With Us
One of the benefits of engaging in collaborative communities and partnerships is the gift of being connected to different perspectives and shared opportunities. Millennials don’t need to have the best perspective or the right perspective. We understand that there are many paths, ideas and ways of doing things that inform our individual and collective ways of being. We are far better when we work together than we’ll ever be if we tried to do it all on our own.
Millennials prioritize realness and we thrive because of our connections. We desire expediency and that in no way diminishes your value. We are deeply loyal and we honor the diversity and complexities of life. Whatever our individual thoughts are concerning religion, ethics and politics, Millennials are interested in the values, practices and beliefs that best perpetuate our shared understanding of reality, purpose, and morality.
Every generation is distinguishable by certain characteristics. Generational differences and generational assumptions exist and many of us are eager to bridge unnecessary divides. It serves each generation well when our lived experiences can be shared with one another. It’s great that people from the Silent Generation, or that Boomers and Gen Y’s want to connect with Millennials because Millennials want to connect, too.
Intergenerational community connections are vital to the health, vitality and legacy of every community. Thank you for expressing an interest in bridging some of the generational divides between us…may we all continually look for ways to connect with one another and share in real, meaningful, tangible moments together.