It can be challenging to connect with coworkers who are older or younger than you and seem to be in very different life stages. But having relationships across age gaps can make work more fulfilling and lead to professional opportunities down the line.
Shift Mindset – The first step is to shift your mindset. Consider your coworkers as peers, regardless of their age. This simple reframing will take away some of the discomforts, making it easier to be authentic and initiate more organic discussions.
Find a common ground – Ask simple questions to find common ground. For example: How did they end up in their current role? What hobbies interest them? The idea here is to remember the topics, interests, and values that are important to them — just like you would with a friend.
Water the plant – If you do happen to hit it off, make an effort to water the plant — that is, to further invest in the relationship. Set up regular one-on-ones, perhaps biweekly, monthly, or quarterly, so you can get to know each other on a personal level. After forming a foundation of trust, you can also use these opportunities to exchange ideas, and even inspire one another.
Of course, not everyone will become a friend and you don’t want to force a relationship but taking these steps will help you find those people who you have a genuine connection with, even if you’re not at the same exact life stage.