I have something to say. But I’m not the only one.
The last time we were together, I suggested making friends for the sake of having more friends to learn from. When we value the views and opinions of others, we tell them that they mean something to us, that they are more than mere flesh and blood, or our latest “project” to be completed.
This is especially true of younger adults, as I explained in my former post. If we want to reach them, we have to be more real than we have ever had to be before. Teens and young adults normally see right through any attempt to snow them. Their radars are already well tuned to detect fakes.
What can we do?
Listen. No, not hear. Listen. Really listen. REALLY listen. REALLY LISTEN.
Since much of their social connection is virtual, they are used to adding their voice to the noise. What they may not be so used to, however, is being listened to. Especially IRL (In Real Life). Listening is investing. Listening is caring. Listening is joining. Listening is valuing. Listening is interest. Being listened to may be foreign to them, especially being genuinely listened to by older people, but it likely is something that will go a long way toward opening their minds and gaining their trust.
Besides this, there is a real benefit in listening. If we actually listen to them, we’re less likely to be talking at them. No one wants to be talked at, yet this appears to be the experience that many have when interacting with older folk. This is sad, because many younger people truly want to learn the wisdom and knowledge that we have. Until we listen, however, we will not win an audience with them.
Who could blame them?
Find someone who is younger, and begin a real conversation with them. Take time to hear them out, even and especially when you disagree with what they say. Ask them to go deeper into their thoughts, and give them space to flesh it all out verbally. Ask good, open ended questions. Keep the conversation going with your ears mostly open and your mouth mostly shut. I know it won’t be easy, and it will take concerted effort to do so, but think of the value you’ll receive for trying. Be the mentoring older adult for some younger adult that you wish you’d had as a younger adult.
Wouldn’t we all love to have had someone like this in our younger lives? I know I would! I know that this would have had great benefit for myself, if I would have had someone in my life who would have simply…