Maybe you’re a Gen Y type, frustrated with your older colleagues’ unwillingness to embrace change. Perhaps you’re a Baby Boomer, and you’d just like people to answer their phone. Whatever your date of birth, there’s a good chance you’re going to have to work with folks who were born in a different era. Here’s how to do it.
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“Although sticking points are inevitable, the same generational conflicts that get teams stuck can cause teams to stick together because they push us to understand and appreciate how other generations see the world,” writes Haydn Shaw at The Huffington Post, offering his four-point approach to working through the disconnects.
Here are a few more tips for helping everyone get along.
1. Don’t assume every problem is generational in cause.
Is your coworker not making eye contact because he was born in 1990, or because he’s shy? In the end, it doesn’t matter. Your job is to figure out how to communicate with the folks you work with, in order to make your own life easier and the company’s goals more achievable. After all, no matter what the underlying issue is, you can’t climb into people’s brains and make them change the behaviors you find objectionable.
2. Take a close look at your own behavior, too.
Remember that what seems normal to you might seem rude to someone else. For example, when Gen X workers first arrived in the corporate world, there were a lot of stories about how they’d send emails or IMs when Baby Boomers would pick up the phone. Manners change, but you can learn a lot about what people expect by what they do. The person who drops by with an issue probably prefers to talk about important matters in person, for example.
3. Remember that we’re all in this together.
“Each party thinks it’s the other person’s problem,” corporate trainer Dana Brownlee tells Forbes. “The responsibility is really mutual.”
Instead of figuring out who to blame for communication issues, concentrate on how to resolve the situation. After all, everyone benefits when you’re able to work together — and everyone suffers when you can’t.
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