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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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        Marketing Strategy Consultant

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        Last Updated on February 11, 2021

        Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

        Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

        How often have you said something simple, only to have the person who you said this to misunderstand it or twist the meaning completely around? Nodding your head in affirmative? Then this means that you are being unclear in your communication.

        Communication should be simple, right? It’s all about two people or more talking and explaining something to the other. The problem lies in the talking itself, somehow we end up being unclear, and our words, attitude or even the way of talking becomes a barrier in communication, most of the times unknowingly. We give you six common barriers to communication, and how to get past them; for you to actually say what you mean, and or the other person to understand it as well…

        The 6 Walls You Need to Break Down to Make Communication Effective

        Think about it this way, a simple phrase like “what do you mean” can be said in many different ways and each different way would end up “communicating” something else entirely. Scream it at the other person, and the perception would be anger. Whisper this is someone’s ear and others may take it as if you were plotting something. Say it in another language, and no one gets what you mean at all, if they don’t speak it… This is what we mean when we say that talking or saying something that’s clear in your head, many not mean that you have successfully communicated it across to your intended audience – thus what you say and how, where and why you said it – at times become barriers to communication.[1]

        Perceptual Barrier

        The moment you say something in a confrontational, sarcastic, angry or emotional tone, you have set up perceptual barriers to communication. The other person or people to whom you are trying to communicate your point get the message that you are disinterested in what you are saying and sort of turn a deaf ear. In effect, you are yelling your point across to person who might as well be deaf![2]

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        The problem: When you have a tone that’s not particularly positive, a body language that denotes your own disinterest in the situation and let your own stereotypes and misgivings enter the conversation via the way you talk and gesture, the other person perceives what you saying an entirely different manner than say if you said the same while smiling and catching their gaze.

        The solution: Start the conversation on a positive note, and don’t let what you think color your tone, gestures of body language. Maintain eye contact with your audience, and smile openly and wholeheartedly…

        Attitudinal Barrier

        Some people, if you would excuse the language, are simply badass and in general are unable to form relationships or even a common point of communication with others, due to their habit of thinking to highly or too lowly of them. They basically have an attitude problem – since they hold themselves in high esteem, they are unable to form genuine lines of communication with anyone. The same is true if they think too little of themselves as well.[3]

        The problem: If anyone at work, or even in your family, tends to roam around with a superior air – anything they say is likely to be taken by you and the others with a pinch, or even a bag of salt. Simply because whenever they talk, the first thing to come out of it is their condescending attitude. And in case there’s someone with an inferiority complex, their incessant self-pity forms barriers to communication.

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        The solution: Use simple words and an encouraging smile to communicate effectively – and stick to constructive criticism, and not criticism because you are a perfectionist. If you see someone doing a good job, let them know, and disregard the thought that you could have done it better. It’s their job so measure them by industry standards and not your own.

        Language Barrier

        This is perhaps the commonest and the most inadvertent of barriers to communication. Using big words, too much of technical jargon or even using just the wrong language at the incorrect or inopportune time can lead to a loss or misinterpretation of communication. It may have sounded right in your head and to your ears as well, but if sounded gobbledygook to the others, the purpose is lost.

        The problem: Say you are trying to explain a process to the newbies and end up using every technical word and industry jargon that you knew – your communication has failed if the newbie understood zilch. You have to, without sounding patronizing, explain things to someone in the simplest language they understand instead of the most complex that you do.

        The solution: Simplify things for the other person to understand you, and understand it well. Think about it this way: if you are trying to explain something scientific to a child, you tone it down to their thinking capacity, without “dumbing” anything down in the process.[4]

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        Emotional Barrier

        Sometimes, we hesitate in opening our mouths, for fear of putting our foot in it! Other times, our emotional state is so fragile that we keep it and our lips zipped tightly together lest we explode. This is the time that our emotions become barriers to communication.[5]

        The problem: Say you had a fight at home and are on a slow boil, muttering, in your head, about the injustice of it all. At this time, you have to give someone a dressing down over their work performance. You are likely to transfer at least part of your angst to the conversation then, and talk about unfairness in general, leaving the other person stymied about what you actually meant!

        The solution: Remove your emotions and feelings to a personal space, and talk to the other person as you normally would. Treat any phobias or fears that you have and nip them in the bud so that they don’t become a problem. And remember, no one is perfect.

        Cultural Barrier

        Sometimes, being in an ever-shrinking world means that inadvertently, rules can make cultures clash and cultural clashes can turn into barriers to communication. The idea is to make your point across without hurting anyone’s cultural or religious sentiments.

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        The problem: There are so many ways culture clashes can happen during communication and with cultural clashes; it’s not always about ethnicity. A non-smoker may have problems with smokers taking breaks; an older boss may have issues with younger staff using the Internet too much.

        The solution: Communicate only what is necessary to get the point across – and eave your personal sentiments or feelings out of it. Try to be accommodative of the other’s viewpoint, and in case you still need to work it out, do it one to one, to avoid making a spectacle of the other person’s beliefs.[6]

        Gender Barrier

        Finally, it’s about Men from Mars and Women from Venus. Sometimes, men don’t understand women and women don’t get men – and this gender gap throws barriers in communication. Women tend to take conflict to their graves, literally, while men can move on instantly. Women rely on intuition, men on logic – so inherently, gender becomes a big block in successful communication.[7]

        The problem: A male boss may inadvertently rub his female subordinates the wrong way with anti-feminism innuendoes, or even have problems with women taking too many family leaves. Similarly, women sometimes let their emotions get the better of them, something a male audience can’t relate to.

        The solution: Talk to people like people – don’t think or classify them into genders and then talk accordingly. Don’t make comments or innuendos that are gender biased – you don’t have to come across as an MCP or as a bra-burning feminist either. Keep gender out of it.

        And remember, the key to successful communication is simply being open, making eye contact and smiling intermittently. The battle is usually half won when you say what you mean in simple, straightforward words and keep your emotions out of it.

        Reference

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