Intergenerational Communication

Thanks to Nicole Havelka from Defy the Trend for sharing this Great Idea in a recent email.

After meeting with a cohort of team leaders earlier this spring, Nicole realized that several important conversations boiled down to one clear and specific struggle: ‘intergenerational communication’.

It wasn’t until after the group had dispersed that Nicole had her ‘a ha’ moment, which she describes as follows (there is no link, so the email is here in almost its entirety):

‘We’ve all dealt with the struggle of getting different age groups to communicate, but the social impacts of COVID lockdowns and rapid technological advances have made this even harder. Gen Z might express emotions fluently in emojis via text, but face-to-face, it’s a different story. Boomers might prefer good old-fashioned meetings but might need to Google that string of emojis.

In my work, I’ve brought together groups with children as young as five and adults in their 80s and 90s. One key takeaway: creating safety for all generations and personalities by making everyone comfortable with speaking in the group is essential.

A tried-and-true method I recommend is inviting team members to journal on a question, then share their responses in pairs before discussing in the larger group.

This approach provides several benefits:

  1. Comfort in Sharing: Journaling allows individuals to organize their thoughts privately, reducing the pressure to speak on the spot.
  2. Building Relationships: Sharing in pairs fosters one-on-one connections, making it easier to speak up in larger groups over time.
  3. Inclusive Participation: This method ensures that all voices are heard, promoting a culture of respect, which is crucial for doing your best work together.

It’s easy to get started with just 15-20 minutes of your meeting time:

Pose a thought-provoking question related to your team’s goals or values. Give everyone a few minutes to write down their thoughts. Then, have them share with a partner before bringing the discussion to the full group. You can do this in person or via Zoom using the breakout room feature.

I use this technique in nearly every training or group coaching session, and I promise you it works wonders for building real relationships that make getting your team’s work done so much easier.’


Get five more of Nicole’s free tips for uniting your multigenerational team and subscribe to her newsletter.

Nicole is available as consultant and can be reached here.

Ministry Lab members congregations have access to free and unlimited consultations with the Rev. Emily Meyer, who can be reached here.

How can we help build your team of volunteers and encouraged greater intergenerational communication??