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9 Tips For Getting Along With Coworkers From Different Generations

9 Tips For Getting Along With Coworkers From Different Generations

A healthy workplace requires non-stop communication, but when your office includes by-the-book Baby Boomers, skeptical Gen X-ers, and collaborative Millennials, roadblocks will come up on your information highways.

A multigenerational workforce isn’t a new phenomenon, but the enormous shift that’s taken place over the past 20 years in the rules of business and how we communicate has created some unique intergenerational dynamics.

While seasoned professionals are being forced to become tech savvy and hip to new workplace culture or fall behind, many younger employees are expected to adhere to entrenched hierarchies and dress codes if they want to get ahead.

Friction may be inevitable, but you can help ease the tension by considering how your coworkers’ generation may be impacting their perspective and approach.

Here are 9 tips for how to get along with—and impress—the Baby Boomers, Gen X-ers, and Millennials in your workplace. To test your generational IQ, take this quiz.

Baby Boomers

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    Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, grew up in a generally optimistic time when letters were typed and sent by mail, business was conducted face-to-face, and the telephone was the fastest way to communicate. If you work alongside or report to a Baby Boomer, keep these three tips in mind.

    Honor Their Experience

    When presenting information or making requests of a Baby Boomer, take their title, experience, and tenure with the company into consideration. Show them overt respect and deference, just as they did with their superiors. This means acknowledging their expertise and giving them an opportunity to absorb information and vocalize their thoughts before piping up with your own opinions and conclusions.

    Be Prepared

    Boomers spent much of their careers working long hours without the distraction of social media and instant messaging. Reports and memos took dedicated time to research and perfect before printing and distributing. Boomers will expect you to invest time and focus to get things right before sending out documents, holding meetings, or giving presentations. And they’ll want you to be well prepared to answer their questions with evidence, precedents, and data.

    Respect Boundaries

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    For Baby Boomers, there was a chain of command; rarely would a junior account executive go directly to a vice president with a new product idea. So, if you have a Boomer for a coworker, collaborate freely, but if you report to a Boomer, they may prefer not to work side by side with you as you do your work. And if it seems they’re none too eager to catch a baseball game with you after work, don’t take it personally; traditional workplace relationships were often business-only.

    Generation X

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      Gen X-ers, born between the mid-1960s and 1979, came of age when corporate scandals peppered the news, governments clashed, and their parents were often working long hours, leaving them to fend for themselves and learn independently. This bred innovation and autonomy, along with a healthy skepticism of the status quo. If you work alongside or report to a Gen X-er, keep these three tips in mind.

      Be Efficient

      Gen X-ers are great with email communication but get impatient with shortcuts, sloppy writing, and too much fluff. They want efficiency and accuracy. So don’t worry about playing into the ego of a Gen X-er when you communicate—just stick to what’s working, what’s not, and your next steps. And don’t request tons of meetings or time commitments unless they’re really necessary.

      Walk Your Talk

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      Though Gen X-ers respect hierarchy, they grew up in a time of questioning authority and challenging the establishment. So they’re more likely to respect your actions over your job title or where you went to grad school. If you set expectations around punctuality, be on time. If you ask for honest feedback on an idea, accept that feedback without getting defensive. If you say you’re going to finish your report by Friday, get it done by Friday morning or, even better, Thursday afternoon.

      Respect Their Independence

      Gen X-ers are known for a “if you want it done right, do it yourself” mentality, so give them roles where they have autonomy and projects they can work on independently. Don’t force teamwork on them or be offended by their tendency to want to work solo; you’ll get their best work when you give them space.

      Generation Y (Millennials)

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        Generation Y, born between 1980 and 1995 and also called Millennials, are often referred to as “digital natives,” having grown up with internet connectivity, digital devices, and 250+ cable TV channels. They were raised to value teamwork and constant feedback and tend to have a strong sense of self-worth. If you work alongside or report to a Gen Y-er, keep these three tips in mind.

        Give The Big Picture

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        Gen Y-ers are used to a transparent world where answers to questions are never more than a few clicks away and nothing is kept secret for long. The way you communicate with a Millennial isn’t as important as how openly you communicate. They want to know how your information or request applies to them personally, how it might affect their career development, and how it fits in with the big picture of your organization’s goals.

        Give Frequent Feedback

        Provide feedback often and immediately to Millennials. Let them know clearly what they’re doing right, what they need to improve, and how to improve. Don’t be afraid to offer advice and appropriate levels of coaching, but keep your relationship intact by offering feedback specific to the task at hand; direct your criticism to their work, not them personally.

        Be Inclusive

        Raised with the motto “There’s no ‘I’ in ‘Team,” Millennials have been trained to be collaborative and involved. So, involve them! Invite your Gen Y colleagues to sit at the table, hear both the good and the bad news, and brainstorm ideas and solutions. Don’t worry about their level at the company or yours. The process of sharing ideas and collaborating is exciting for younger professionals, who are eager to learn and be part of a winning team.

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        Sharen Ross

        Marketing Strategy Consultant

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        Last Updated on November 5, 2019

        12 Powerful Habits of a Lifelong Learner

        12 Powerful Habits of a Lifelong Learner

        Formal education is something everyone has to go through to a certain degree, and the knowledge it offers isn’t always that practical in real life. Life long learning is how you improve as a person, bit by bit and day by day.

        Life long learners recognize the importance and joy of growth so they never settle for what they currently know and always seek for improvement.

        Here are 12 habits of people who value lifelong learning have in common – see how many of them you recognize in yourself.

        1. They Read on a Daily Basis

        Whatever problem or dilemma you currently face, there’s definitely at least one decent book that discusses it and presents a variety of solutions.

        Reading is a great way to open up new horizons, train your brain and revolutionize your life. I can’t even count how many times books completely transformed the way I view the world, and it’s always a change for the better. Through reading, you can connect with successful people and learn from the lessons they share.

        Life long learners love to get lost in books and do it regularly. Bill Gates knows that reading matters a lot; on his personal blog, he reviews plenty of game-changing books.

        Due to technology, you can access a bookshelf of the wealthiest entrepreneur on this planet.

        2. They Attend Various Courses

        Whether it’s online or offline, there are countless courses you can participate in without spending a dime on it. These are great opportunities to connect with clever and like-minded people and learn from them.

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        Because of the advanced technology, you can now gain knowledge from online programs, starting from coding through self-improvement to programs from top universities.

        There are literally endless ways to thrive. What life long learners have in common is squeezing as much as possible out of these opportunities.

        3. They Actively Seek Opportunities to Grow

        Instead of spending your free time laying on the couch and watching TV, you prefer doing something creative and practical. You know every wasted minute is gone forever.

        That’s why you’d rather practice your language skills with a native-speaker you’ve met, engage in local meet up or attend a class that teaches something you always wanted to learn.

        Life long learners stay up-to-date with growth opportunities in their areas and participate in them frequently.

        4. They Take Care of Their Bodies

        “Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.” — John F. Kennedy

        A clever mind combined with a body in a great condition is the best asset you can have. Our bodies were designed to run, walk, jump, swim, lift and much more. Leading a sedentary lifestyle harms both your physical and mental sphere.

        Life long learners know the body is your temple. In order to make it flourish for as long as possible, they train regularly, move a lot and eat healthy.

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        5. They Have Diverse Passions

        Among Steve Jobs’ wise quotes, there’s one I like especially. It’s about connecting the dots:

        “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” — Steve Jobs

        Each dot is some event or skill in your life, and it’s only when you go through these elements that you know how to combine them into something great.

        Having a variety of passions indicates that you love to progress. By practicing different skills, you give yourself an advantage over the rest of the people. During hard times, you are more likely to to act intelligently and solve your problems with less effort.

        6. They Love Making Progress

        If behind the efforts, there is passion and a deep desire to grow, your chances of success are way higher, compared to when you are forced to learn.

        Life long learners love to experience the constant growth and improvement. The breakthrough moments help them to notice the impressive change that took place because of the learning process. Any milestone serves as a driving force for further headway.

        7. They Challenge Themselves with Specific Goals

        In order to keep growing, you clearly define your goals. Smart goal setting is one of the tools to ensure constant growth.

        Since you love challenges, a difficult goal doesn’t scare you. Quite the opposite, it keeps you motivated and engaged.

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        Research showed that precise and ambitious goals increase the performance of an individual. As we already agreed, life long learners are people who care about their performance, hence they never stop improving.

        8. They Embrace Change

        A complete change can lead to incredible results. This is especially visible on the example of successful companies.

        Oftentimes, it’s that transformation which created space for their so-called overnight success. Twitter was originally created as an internal service to serve Odeo employees. Currently, it has over 300 million monthly active users and is considered the second biggest social network.

        As a life long learner, you know a change can lead to extraordinary results so you welcome it and stay open minded about making a shift.

        9. They Believe It’s Never Too Late to Start Something

        Some people tend to think after a certain age, they are no longer allowed to start something and become successful. The truth is, it’s just a lame excuse not to leave the comfort zone.

        Opposite to common misconceptions, there’s no wrong age to begin something. Henry Ford was 45 when he invented the Ford Model T car, which is considered as the first affordable automobile.

        Sure, for some domains like becoming a professional athlete, starting early is required. However, to learn and improve for its own sake, you are never too old.

        10. Their Attitude to Getting Better Is Contagious

        “We now accept the fact that learning is a life long process of keeping abreast of change. And the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn.” — Peter Drucker

        There’s nothing better than to see your surroundings getting involved in what you actively participate in. Oftentimes, the best way to achieve that is to inspire them and be the example. As Gandhi would say, you need to be the change you want to see in the world.

        As a life long learner, you are extremely passionate about the constant growth and people around you can sense that positive attitude. As a result, they start acting similarly.

        11. They Leave Their Comfort Zone

        Is it really better to step out of your comfort zone? The answer is always yes.

        You always embrace discomfort as you know the path to success leads through hardship and countless obstacles. Instead of being afraid of facing them, you challenge yourself to overcome more and more difficult handicaps.

        Every time you get out of your comfort zone, regardless whether you win or fail, you learn something new. That’s the part you love the most!

        12. They Never Settle Down

        “Knowledge is exploding, so you need to commit yourself to a plan for life long learning.” — Don Tapscott

        A sense of being clever enough is something you don’t experience. Without a doubt, you appreciate what you already know, but that’s never a reason to stop. You just know once you stop learning, you lose the amazing privilege humans have, namely an ability to a never-ending intellectual development.

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        Featured photo credit: Christin Hume via unsplash.com

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