Advertising
Advertising

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

Advertising

14

    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

    Advertising

    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

    1

      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

      Advertising

      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)

      7

        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

        Advertising

        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.

        More by this author

        Sharen Ross

        Marketing Strategy Consultant

        36 Pictures To See Which Muscle You’re Stretching 8 Ways to Overcome Impulsive Spending Tracking your spending can improve your life in dramatic ways. 5 Surprising Benefits of Tracking Your Spending How To Master The Multigenerational Workforce 9 Tips For Getting Along With Coworkers From Different Generations 9 Tips For Getting Along With Coworkers From Different Generations

        Trending in Communication

        1 7 Ways To Deal With Negative People 2 How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward 3 What Are Interpersonal Skills? Master Them for Better Relationships 4 How To Stop Negative Thoughts from Killing Your Confidence 5 This 4-Year Old Girl’s Explanation On the Problem with New Year’s Resolutions Is Everything You Need

        Read Next

        Advertising
        Advertising
        Advertising

        Last Updated on January 18, 2019

        7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

        7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

        Some people will have a rain cloud hanging over them, no matter what the weather is outside. Their negative attitude is toxic to your own moods, and you probably feel like there is little you can do about it.

        But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

        If you want to effectively deal with negative people and be a champion of positivity, then your best route is to take definite action through some of the steps below.

        1. Limit the time you spend with them.

        First, let’s get this out of the way. You can be more positive than a cartoon sponge, but even your enthusiasm has a chance of being afflicted by the constant negativity of a friend.

        Advertising

        In fact, negativity has been proven to damage your health physically, making you vulnerable to high levels of stress and even cardiac disease. There’s no reason to get hurt because of someone else’s bad mood.

        Though this may be a little tricky depending on your situation, working to spend slightly less time around negative people will keep your own spirits from slipping as well.

        2. Speak up for yourself.

        Don’t just absorb the comments that you are being bombarded with, especially if they are about you. It’s wise to be quick to listen and slow to speak, but being too quiet can give the person the impression that you are accepting what’s being said.

        3. Don’t pretend that their behavior is “OK.”

        This is an easy trap to fall into. Point out to the person that their constant negativity isn’t a good thing. We don’t want to do this because it’s far easier to let someone sit in their woes, and we’d rather just stay out of it.

        Advertising

        But if you want the best for this person, avoid giving the false impression that their negativity is normal.

        4. Don’t make their problems your problems.

        Though I consider empathy a gift, it can be a dangerous thing. When we hear the complaints of a friend or family member, we typically start to take on their burdens with them.

        This is a bad habit to get into, especially if this is a person who is almost exclusively negative. These types of people are prone to embellishing and altering a story in order to gain sympathy.

        Why else would they be sharing this with you?

        Advertising

        5. Change the subject.

        When you suspect that a conversation is starting to take a turn for the negative, be a champion of positivity by changing the subject. Of course, you have to do this without ignoring what the other person said.

        Acknowledge their comment, but move the conversation forward before the euphoric pleasure gained from complaining takes hold of either of you.

        6. Talk about solutions, not problems.

        Sometimes, changing the subject isn’t an option if you want to deal with negative people, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be positive.

        I know that when someone begins dumping complaints on me, I have a hard time knowing exactly what to say. The key is to measure your responses as solution-based.

        Advertising

        You can do this by asking questions like, “Well, how could this be resolved?” or, “How do you think they feel about it?”

        Use discernment to find an appropriate response that will help your friend manage their perspectives.

        7. Leave them behind.

        Sadly, there are times when we have to move on without these friends, especially if you have exhausted your best efforts toward building a positive relationship.

        If this person is a family member, you can still have a functioning relationship with them, of course, but you may still have to limit the influence they have over your wellbeing.

        That being said, what are some steps you’ve taken to deal with negative people? Let us know in the comments.

        You may also want to read: How to Stop the Negative Spin of Thoughts, Emotions and Actions.

        Read Next