How to talk to Millennials: A guide for Baby Boomers

David  September 26, 2013

By Susan Reimer

Beverly Jones was my life coach before she was anybody else’s life coach.

Back at Ohio University, she was a young administrator and I was a reporter on the student newspaper, The Post. We were the rare woman in our jobs, and she talked me in off the ledge many times.

Bev went on to Georgetown Law School and eventually worked as a lobbyist on Capital Hill. A golden parachute allowed her to re-invent herself as an executive coach, helping professionals figure out where they, like her, will be next. She is particularly interested in how Boomers recycle themselves for post-career careers.

She writes a regular on-line newsletter for her company, Clearways Consulting, and, of course, I am a subscriber. I recommend her advice to all my colleagues, especially my young colleagues, because she is as wise today as she was all those years ago when she was making tea to calm the nerves of a high-strung young feminist.

A recent edition of her newsletter made me laugh out loud — and blush with self-consciousness. She was talking about me.

Increasingly, workplace teams cut across the generations and businesses are finding real power in the blend of sage experience and youthful innovation. But she said, “Boomers and Millennials find each other boring.”

We have little in common, and we don’t speak the same language. Literally.

“Recently, I was talking with a group of Boomer friends about the tedious conversational patterns of our age cohort,” she wrote. “In particular, we all confessed to indulging in prolonged accounts of our various aches and pains.

“We bore even each other with this kind of talk and we could drive a Millennial out of the room.”

She came up with a list of “annoying old person talk” and suggested that we Boomers signal each other when we drift too close to those topics.

Among the temptations is to mention how much more expensive everything is now compared to back in the day. Or to interrupt a conversation about something current with some other kind of reminiscence. Those memories only have meaning for us, and they throw up roadblocks for everybody else.

Keep reading…

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