The key to resolving Intergenerational Communication Issues is to first discover what are your underlying attitudes and beliefs about the other generations at your workplace?
Do you ever think any of these thoughts or have any of these beliefs:
- These “kids” think they know everything
- This younger generation has a sense of entitlement
- “They” don’t listen
- The older people in the office don’t respect me and discount my opinion
- They shouldn’t be texting, on their cell phone, tweeting, on FaceBook, etc.
- Young people don’t have a good work ethic and aren’t invested in the company
- The boomer generation thinks just because they have been here a long time they know the best way to get things done
If you said yes to even one of these (or something like it) it is negatively impacting your ability to communicate effectively with your colleagues from different generations.
I know you think “they” are the problem. Consider it is your attitude and beliefs that are really the problem. When you lump people into categories and start communicating with them as if your attitudes and beliefs are true, then your communication comes across as condescending, dismissive, arrogant and disrespectful.
You act as if you already know which doesn’t give you a chance to learn. By categorizing people you strip them of their uniqueness and prevent them from surprising you.
Many of you are thinking, your situation is different; the people you work with really are the way you say they are. You have proof and agreement from your co-workers, blah, blah, blah. That’s the same thinking that keeps every stereotype and prejudice in existence.
How to Resolve Intergenerational Communication Issues in the Workplace With Ease
- How do you like being judged by other’s standards?
- Do you like being lumped into a category and then treated like everyone else?
- Are you happy when others assume things about you rather than ask?
That’s what you are doing to other people when you come to a conclusion about them. Human beings are complex and rarely fit into a single category.
Look, there are real differences between the generations. Life has changed significantly over the last 50-60 years and this has influenced each generations’ perspective. Priorities have changed; attitudes about work/life balance have changed. Don’t let the differences be a problem.
The thing most people forget is that each generation has created the one that follows it AND we created it out of a strong desire to make things better for them. We wanted life (and the workplace) to be better for our children. WE ALL CREATED THEM!
If you saw the differences as an opportunity rather than as a barrier, you might just be surprised at how easy it is to communicate regardless of the generation. Get curious about what has each person operate at his or her best. ASK QUESTIONS so that you learn about them rather than think you already know.
Get rid of your “shoulds” and recognize your opinions are just one possible way of looking at it. Perhaps a different perspective might make your work experience more satisfying?
If you would like a workshop or training program at your organization on this topic, contact Lisa Giruzzi