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How to Connect With Younger Generations

If you’ve ever heard a younger person use slang you don’t recognize or reference things you’ve never heard of, you may think that friendships between baby boomers and millennials (or between GenX and GenZ, for that matter) are out of reach.

After all, from our school days onward, it seems like we’re encouraged to make friends within our own age group. What could we possibly have to discuss with the younger crowd?

As it turns out, the answer is plenty.

According to surveys from AARP on intergenerational friendships, about 37% of adults have a close friend who is at least 15 years older or younger than they are. What’s more, research is showing these kinds of friendships can provide ways to build resilience and deepen social connections.

Learn how to reach out to younger people and purposefully find common ground for nurturing a meaningful relationship.

Opportunities to Make Friends With People Not Your Age

Finding younger people to widen your social circle may be easier than you think.

AARP’s study found that people most often meet friends from a different generation at work, in their neighborhood, at church or temple, or through mutual friends.

If you feel nervous about approaching someone, keep in mind that intergenerational friendships come with benefits for both parties.

For starters, you’ll each be gaining the chance to learn new things from one another. You can learn more about current trends you’re curious about — and they can learn from the valuable wisdom you’ve gained over the years. For example, you can ask them how to edit digital photos to include captions, and they can ask you for advice about a work-related issue you’ve faced during your career.

Common interests that stem from the place where you met can be the perfect starting point for a conversation that may lead to a connection.

For example, if you’re reaching out to someone in your neighborhood, mention a new store or development in your community. It’s a great way to establish common ground and provide a topic for your conversation.

Conversation Starters to Try With Younger People

The truth is you don’t need to learn a hip, new vocabulary to communicate with younger people. Then again, asking them for help learning how to use Venmo to transfer money — or to confirm that saying something is “fire” means it’s amazing — may be the perfect way to begin a conversation.

The next time you have an opportunity to connect with someone from a younger generation, consider using one of these conversation starters:

  • Which shows are you watching right now?
  • What’s the coolest app that I don’t have on my phone?
  • Do you like listening to any retro music?
  • Where did you grow up?

When you remain curious about what other people are experiencing, you become more engaged in the conversation — and you’re perceived as being interested in what others have to say. Changing your mindset from “I can’t relate” to “I wonder what that’s like” can open up the possibility of a friendship with someone, regardless of their age.

Conversations are more than just your words. People will respond to what your body language is communicating, too. It helps to make eye contact, face the person you’re speaking with, and approach them with a friendly wave or smile.

5 Icebreakers to Make Socializing Less Stressful

If you find yourself worried about group gatherings, these icebreakers can help you — and the people you’re connecting with — experience fewer gaps in conversation.

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