People in conversation

Guide to Dialogue Across Generations


We live in a moment of strong, overlapping generational identities. Baby Boomer, Gen X, Millennial, and Zoomer: each comes with a set of tropes and stereotypes—which are each little prisons, walls of assumptions and projections that stop us from seeing and hearing the real people we live, learn, and work with.

At Essential Partners, we help people build relationships across differences to address their communities’ most pressing challenges. Today, the generation gap is one of the biggest obstacles to that goal.

In polls and surveys we certainly see broad differences in the media we consume and the places we live, in technological fluency and core social values. But a person's generational identity is just one dimension of a much larger, more complex, more interesting picture. No person can actually be understood solely through the lens of their age cohort.

This guide is designed to help you break down the walls that stand between you and your coworkers, congregation members, teachers, students, neighbors, or family members.

You might use the structures and prompts in this guide for large and small groups or in pairs, among multi-generational cohorts or among people in the same age range. You might deploy the dialogues from this guide:

  • At workplace staff meetings or strategy sessions
  • As part of a faith-led convening, such as a Bible study or retreat
  • In college or secondary school classrooms and extracurricular groups
  • As part of a collective decision-making process
  • Among family members, friends, or neighbors

The conversations outlined in this guide will help you reflect on your own and other people's experiences and identities. You'll uncover insights and build new skills to transform the way you—and those around you—engage one another across generational differences.

The goal is to break down the cycles of polarization and stereotyping that stop us from addressing our biggest challenges. If you'd like to learn more about our approach, consider attending an upcoming workshop.