Perception Is NOT Reality: 5 Tips To Deal With The Five Generations
Yesterday, I was asked in an interview about a key thought on how to work with multiple generations.
Here’s the answer:
Perception is NOT reality.
There are 158,000,000 million people working in the U.S. Teenagers to people over 70 years old working today. Everyone needs to know how to deal with each generation if we like it or not. Each day we interact with a person from a different generation. BTW, no one is quitting any time soon. In fact, even more people are entering the workforce than ever.
Recently, I asked my teenage college students what age they consider “old”. Shockingly, they answered 50. Naturally, I laughed—as I’m in that world. My mother is adorable, but she’s “old” at 88. Pushing for more information, they thought they people over 50 can’t hear, barely walk and have grey hair. Uh, hello…the perception is clearly off.
Then I asked several people over 50 what their thoughts were on Generation Z and Millennials. Here’s their answers: annoying, impatient, don’t care about work, focused solely on technology and don’t have manners. Their perception is clearly off. I don’t see that for ALL of them. 🙂
We all have biases here and there and many of us catch it before hurtful words leave our mouth and correct ourselves. Eliminating biases take time, mindfulness and … practice.
Regularly, I speak on generational differences in the office and how it can be HELPFUL to have a diverse crowd represented at all levels. Each brings a wealth of insight, talents and fresh perspectives to the table.
Each generation must be patient with the other. Don’t assume someone doesn’t understand or doesn’t “get it”, can’t hear, can’t walk, is impatient etc. The world is simply not black and white when we talk about multiple generations.
Top tips in communicating with anyone from another generation at work:
- Don’t assume any previous bias. Make your own decision based upon your OWN experience.
- Once you explain something to another person, ask them to repeat it back so you both understand the issue or directive. Then smile. It’s a nice connection.
- Give a person RESPECT. That means, ask questions, then don’t interrupt with your story. Listen. Give that person your direct attention for two solid minutes, or 120 seconds. You can do it. It will make an impression.
- Ask for advice. Who doesn’t like to be asked for advice? That one question will take your relationship a million miles.
- If you don’t understand a word, ask them to define it. For example, the other day, a teenager said to me, “that’s dope”. I stood there recalling what I just said and pieced it together that it was a nice term…as in, that’s cool. In my day, we said, “that’s law”. We had a laugh and forever we will have that shared moment.
Reach out if you or your company needs an expert in cross generation communication.