by Debbie Ruston, Featured Contributor
WE HEAR A LOT, and read a lot of articles these days about the new millennial generation. Most I have found are negative and judgemental.
Something I have observed is that if you do not know a particular group (it could be age, culture, hobby, service, or any type of group), it is easy to buy into stereotypical comments, and label the group as a whole. For instance,
I had a conversation with Dennis Pitocco last week, and he suggested the best way for all generations to “connect” is not by avoiding the “Next” generation, but by engaging with them. How true that is! Have you ever sat and listened to someone talk about what they are passionate about, or what they are engaged in? Have you ever asked questions with genuine interest? Have you noticed the spark in their eye? Have you ever been so deep in a conversation with them you lost track of time, and afterwards thought about how much you enjoyed getting to know them? Have you ever realized how you may have misjudged them before you took the time to really know them?
I see a lot of articles that have a very negative outlook about millennials and their potential. I am the parent of millennials. I find them absolutely fascinating. They are smart, successful, interesting, purpose driven, and independent. We spend a ton of time with our kids and their friends. Their friends are the same. Some are very different and could be labelled if you didn’t know better because you know them as people. Because I spend so much time with this age group, I have gotten to know for myself how great they all are. I love having conversations with them, and have found myself talking to them at social gatherings for long periods of time. They are so interesting and know so much more than my generation did at this age.
It’s interesting how some people will avoid spending any time engaging and getting to know people in general they don’t know. People they have labelled in any particular group, based on mass opinion. The only way to really know for yourself if information is accurate, is to test it out for yourself. By engaging in conversations with people in different “groups”, whether it be millennials, boomers, or any other group, is how to actually get to know people and have real authentic conversations. You will be surprised what you discover.
Editors Note: Debbie’s insights here were confirmed in the course of our recent discussion regarding responses received in the course of our efforts to attract new Members to one of our newest Linkedin Groups (NextGen 360°). While the majority of our professional colleagues quickly accepted the opportunity to “engage” the next generation, we were surprised by the number of folks who declined due to their age, their uncertainty as to whether they could add value, their perceived lack of “relevance” to the community, etc.. For those of you interested in engaging and learning with our community of “gamechangers,” please join us HERE!