While perfect guarantees are far and few between, there are three qualities of healthy intergenerational conversation that lay the groundwork for productive engagement: relevance, contention, and perspective.
Relevance is an easily thrown-around word these days. For this purpose, it simply means that all generations engaged care about what is being discussed. This can be internal (personal investment), or external (obvious community or organizational value).
Healthy intergenerational conversation should be a constructive journey that allows for and bridges differing viewpoints and ideals.
Intergenerational conversation is enlightening because it allows people to hear, often for the first time, the different perspectives that generations hold on a common topic. This is the value-add piece of intergenerational conversation that produces education and implementation.
How does this look in action? Here’s an example topic that includes all three qualities.
“The Generations and Technology”
Technology is relevant because it plays such a huge part in everybody’s life. Younger generations sleep with theirs, while older generations can often struggle with how fast it moves and its value for society.
There is certainly contention. Millennial and GenX partners are digitally savvy and see technology as applying to most parts of life, while Boomers and Builders can get frustrated with how it distracts people from experiencing each other and life around them.
And, finally, there is perspective. While younger generations see the value of technology, they also wrestle with some of its outcomes, such as depression and the feeling of never being able to disconnect. Older participants can provide insight into how to manage this, engage better in conversation and relationships, etc. On the flip side, Youngers can help Elders more clearly see the value of technology to connect a disconnected world, work better and faster, etc. These perspectives will allow for developing strategies to benefit from technology while also managing its negative aspects better.
Back To You
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