Do you have to speak millennial”ese” with your young adult to communicate with them? It’s not essential, but it is a route toward showing interest in them and their world. Take this quiz to find out your fluency in “millennial”ese” or find out you are “over the hill.” Incidentally, even though I have a lot of interest in millennials and their parents, I flunked the quiz. Although I am clearly not fluent, I enjoyed throwing the word “ghosted” into the conversation with my millennial daughter as we were driving down the road. Her head jerked around to look at me and ask how I knew that word? Her reaction suggested I had invaded her secret world and didn’t belong. If you don’t know some of the words in the quiz don’t feel bad, a lot of millennials don’t either. Share the quiz with your young adult to see how they do? Could be a good conversation starter.
Can You Speak Millennial”ese”?
In the book Can You Speak Millennial”ese?” I discuss the need to connect to your young adult child. The most essential skill for making such a connection is listening. Unfortunately, we tend to focus on telling and directing, and these actions can cause our young adults to become contentious or withdraw. With listening, it’s critical to listen with both the head and the heart. When we listen with the head, we are hearing the content, and we may dive in to tell, direct, fix, or challenge. When we listen with the heart, we are hearing the emotion they are expressing. If we only listen in mono versus stereo, we will miss the total communication. Everyone wants to be heard at both levels.
But listening and believing we are hearing and understanding what the person is saying is not enough to convince them that we understand them. The only way they can be sure we know what they are saying is if we check out what we have heard at both levels. For instance, if your son or daughter complains about their boss at work, you could check out what you heard by saying “You seem frustrated (heart) with your boss who is very demanding (head). If you are unclear on what is being said, you can say- “can you tell me more, help me understand, do you have an example.” These are ways to keep the conversation going. Try to hold back on interjecting your thoughts or opinions until you get the signal that your young adult believes you understand what they are saying. Listening for understanding should be free of judgment and opinion.
One Final Note
One final note. Many of us believe we are good listeners and have likely taken a course in this skill. The problem occurs when things get difficult with our young adults, we forget our listening skills, and default to telling and directing. Knowing how to listen if not used, is no more valuable than knowing how to exercise and never doing it. Next time you are in a contentious conversation with your young adult, try listening.