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8 Communication Skills to Overcome the Generation Gap

8 Communication Skills to Overcome the Generation Gap

In every generation, communication plays a vital role towards a functional society. With recent breakthroughs in medical technology, people are living longer and choosing to remain in the workforce for longer. It comes as no surprise that several distinct generations are mingling more now than ever before, and communication between these groups is increasingly important and challenging.

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    1. Be aware of different forms of communication

    Whether it is within the workforce or with friends and relatives, methods of communication between generations vary extensively. A majority of the oldest generation, known as the ‘matures’ or ‘veterans’ are retired and most likely grandparents. Face-to-face communication is preferential, similarly with the next generation known as the ‘baby boomers’. A lack of communication in person can lead veterans to feel unappreciated and offended as they tend to emphasize little importance in today’s texting and social media revolution.

    Further towards the younger generations, starting with the baby boomers, technology begins to become more acceptable as a form of communication. Generation X, third down the line, is generally comfortable with web-based communication such as conference calling, but still may resist the social movement. The youngest generation, known as Generation Y, or the ‘millennials,’ grew up around the technology and social media movement, therefore this type of web-based communication is weighed as equally respectable.

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    With such a drastic difference, especially between the matures and those of generation Y, it is important to understand the pros and cons each media of communication. While older generations prefer face-to-face communication, it can be argued that cosmopolitanism is prominent in today’s society and often it is necessary to connect with people who live either too far away to meet in person or overseas. While agreeably, communication face-to-face is a more effective way to form close, personal relationships, digital methods of communication is an equally effective way to connect with people living far away.

    Digital communication is also instantaneous. While the effort taken to meet with someone can be the source of the personal relationship, instant messaging, texting or calling is faster and generally more economical, therefore its relevance cannot be so easily ruled out. All methods of communication have pros and cons, but the more thoroughly they are understood, the easier it will be to bridge the communication gap between generations.

      Photo: stockimages

      2. Understand the relevance of formality

      We live in an era of SMS, instant messaging, colloquialisms and slang, predominantly established by the millennials. When e-mail was first introduced as a substitute for sending letters, it started off with formatting as formal as those typed and handwritten notes would have been. Consequently, it can be difficult for matures and baby boomers to accept and adapt to the progressively informal speech surrounding today’s society.

      The slang and colloquialisms used by younger generations can be perceived by older generations as uneducated and an indication of lack of effort in communication. Formal communication can appear nicer to read and carries more value in terms of effort. However it is sometimes faster and easier to use slang and abbreviations for small, less important issues, whether it’s in the workplace or with family and friends. The issue with formality presents itself through digital media, rather than face-to-face communication.

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      While being formal in every form of communication media, it should be considered whether or not it is necessary. If a relative is picking you up from an airport, it might be easier to type a quick ‘here’ text rather than a long-winded, formal explanation of the fact that you have arrived. Such an explanation can be left for a face-to-face conversation or a phone call. In regards to speech informality, it is important for the older generations to understand that most languages are fluid and continuously changing. At the same time, it is also important for younger generations to realize that these changes in the language can be challenging to adapt to.

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        Photo: stockimages

        3. Respect that values differ between generations

        It is obvious that younger generations do not share a majority of personal values that the older generations hold on to. This is obvious in forms ranging from clothing preferences to the chosen methods of communicating and forming relationships. It is very important to be aware of these differences, as to not to come off as offensive. Towards the younger generations, values tend to be less conservative than the older generations. Consequently, communication without fallout can become difficult.

        Even within families, disputes can break out over a lack of perceived respect, mainly from the younger generations. In order to avoid such situations, it is important to understand and take into consideration the differences on both ends of the generational scale. For example, in a mature’s time, unmarried, live-in partners would not have been something common or acceptable, which it now is to younger generations. While there will always be disagreement, if both sides take the time to gain an understanding of opposite opinions, it will be much easier to avoid coming off as offensive.

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          Photo: stockimages

          4. Values also differ in the workplace

          For the first time in history, four different generations appear in the workforce at the same time. While it is a great development and offers a great deal more variety than ever before, it presents its own set of challenges. Older generations, especially the matures, experience a sense of pride towards their jobs, viewing them as predominantly ways to provide for their families. Millennials will tend to stay with the same job, working their way up, as they will tend to constantly move from one job to the next.

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          Older generations can often mistake this as incompetence and lack of work ethic. However it makes sense to younger generations to keep their options flexible and extend their opportunities in the workplace. Adding to the perceived laziness of the younger generations, they also require a great deal of feedback and value peer opinions quite highly, which can be mistaken as being ‘spoon fed’ through their work. For effective communication within the workplace, these stigmas need to be understood more thoroughly from both end of the generational spectrum.

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            Photo: stockimages

            5. Rabbit ears

            The overall factor influencing effective communication across generations is the willingness to listen and learn. Having ‘rabbit ears’ will result in less disputes and more productivity in communication, both inside the workplace and outside, with relatives, strangers and friends.

            Having Rabbit ears means listening not just to what is said but how it is said. This can give both cues on topics that are sensible to discuss between generations and also helps to gain more understanding of each side’s values and opinions. It is all about listening and learning from one another.

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              Photo: stockimages

              6. Be wary of sensitive topics

              When communicating between generations, especially with strangers or people who are unfamiliar, it may be best to avoid sensitive topics such as politics and religion. The relevance of these topics in the millennial age is not the same as it was in the time of the matures, and disagreement can easily erupt. While at a dinner with unfamiliar or familiar people, nothing can make it more awkward than a sudden generational dispute about homosexuality or abortion.

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                Photo: gratisography.com

                7. Right words at the right time

                Communication can break down when wrong words are spoken at the wrong time. Diplomacy is saying the right words at the right time. In terms of communication barriers between generations, this means bringing up those sensitive topics once you know both sides of the conversation are comfortable with generational differences and are willing to accept each other’s opinions without dispute. Taking the time to reach this stage of compliance will result in the most productive discussions, since generations worth of information can be received.

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                  8. Wisdom comes with age vs the resilience of youth

                  Young people can avoid heartache by listening to the voice of experience, whereas older people can learn to “roll with the punches,” as the younger generations tend to do. This can come back to the workforce, wherein young people often move around between several jobs in their lifetime. Advice given by older people in the same field of work can be extremely valuable, especially when it comes to avoiding unprecedented failure. At the same time, the rigidity of the older generations’ work structure can find the flexibility of the younger generation beneficial.

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                  Elizabeth Andal

                  Elizabeth is a passionate writer who shares about lifestyle tips and lessons learned in life on Lifehack.

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                  Last Updated on February 25, 2020

                  5 Rules for Overcoming Adversity and Emotional Pain

                  5 Rules for Overcoming Adversity and Emotional Pain

                  “Some people choose to see the ugliness in this world, the disarray. I choose to see the beauty. To believe there is an order to our days. A purpose.” – from the popular show, “Westworld”

                  It’s different for us all. My personal quest for purpose began with five stages of grief and one startling realization that everything’s endlessly fragile. Adversity, as it happens by rule, found me terribly unprepared, so I decided to take my time. Today, I can honestly say that I’ve grown.

                  Ugliness and beauty, good and evil, pain and laughter – everything in the universe consists of two forces that are opposing but complementary. In the face of difficulty, that is the only mantra you need.

                  Here’s how I learned it and why you should too, with five simple rules.

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                  1. Embrace the Complexity

                  Quite insidiously, adversities come in all shapes and sizes. Paralyzing physical disabilities, mind-wracking mental problems, ruthless emotional havocs, all leading to the same painful acknowledgement: all the beauty in the world cannot possibly make up for the ugliness that surrounds us. Shattered to pieces, helpless and bare naked, we sit in our therapy chairs, apologizing for being so negative.

                  Eventually, what it all comes down to is the nature of negative emotion. Our positives overshadow our negatives, thus wrongly teaching us that the road to well-being is paved with nothing but positive feelings and thoughts. How utterly wrong!

                  “If you’re not failing every now and then, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything innovative”, Woody Allen said.

                  It’s a classic “learn from your mistakes” rule, but in this case, it implies growing from negative experiences. Make peace with your negativities and embrace beauty and ugliness alike! Accepting this marvellously complex world just as it is will allow you to find purpose in adversity and meaning in misery.

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                  2. Find Balance, Regain Control

                  Still, accepting adversity is only the first step toward eventual victory. One can endure only so much trauma in life; if we’re not prepared to deal with difficulties in a productive way, even the minor setbacks can get us off track. Our strengths come from learning, and the best way to learn is through a series of trials and errors. Just like phases of grief or stages of drug addiction, adversities suggest a disabling loss of control, so find your way to regain it.

                  Some call it the coping mechanism; for others, it’s a spiritual will. However you choose to name yours, know that not all supporting systems are equally beneficial, though each is effective in its own way. Escapism was mine, but it only helped me retain the illusion of beauty. It wasn’t until I opened up toward the ugliness and accepted the naked truth that I was finally free. Whether you choose to dwell in art, religion and spiritualism, thus feeding your resilience from within or to reach out to others for help, choose wisely.

                  Whatever the means, the second rule is a golden one: find your inner balance and stick to it. Eventually, it will lead you out of the vicious circle.

                  3. Fight with Patience

                  My bargaining turned in depression with a single touch. Fearless and free, my dance instructor timidly put her hands on my shoulders and I realized, for the first time, just how tense, stiff and cloistered I was. And just like that, I started letting go. Adversities have their sneaky ways, but in my experience, becoming aware is what hurts the worst. It took me a year to recover from this little moment of self-discovery, and I know remember it as the edge of the rabbit hole.

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                  Some sufferings are impossible to console; I know that now. The only way to get through is to, well, get through. Depression and despair are only the beginning of the excruciatingly unnerving process that ravages the mind and shrivels the soul, and once they strike, there is no easy way back. So, fight them with patience. When your head starts spinning and your feet lose ground, go to your happy place. Over there, you’ll be reminded that nothing is forever, not even our little existential psychosis.

                  Take a deep breath and say “om”. When things cannot be combated, they have to be endured, so practice patience and learn to let go. Finally, keep repeating to yourself that this too shall pass.

                  4. Keep Swimming

                  Nothing is impossible, in the end. Your negative thoughts will gently pour into your positive ones, just as two streams come together to become a river. In the event of the inevitable disaster, one can only be as calm as still water. Suffering teaches patience, and the latter gives rise to flexibility. Ultimately, what is life than a series of unfortunate events and a handful of bright moments in between? If adversities are impossible to avoid, than learn to glide through as smoothly and patiently as water does with rocks.

                  Even if spirituality isn’t exactly your cup of tea, you have to admit that this is one solid metaphor. Staying adaptable in the face of change will soothe your panic attacks and keep you sane and sober-blooded. Even if you fail, you’ll know exactly how to breathe and face what’s in front of you once it eventually strikes again. Stay calm and visualize a better tomorrow; if anything else, it will give you strength to dive deep and weather the storm. And, in case there’s somebody’s hand to reach out to, grab it firmly and don’t let go.

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                  Being flexible against adversities takes a lot of learning, just as staying brave demands a lot of courage. It’s a long, arduous step-by-step routine, and you can reach the end only by swimming on. Persist, even when you fall.

                  5. Never Stop Searching for Inspiration

                  And, if it’s a guidance you need, where else to seek it than in experiences of others? Find it in art, in people around you, in chance encounters. The pure beauty of perseverance can be discovered where you expect it the least, so never stop searching for inspiration. If self-help literature soothes your pains and clears your mind, don’t let cynics discourage you. Your path toward reconciliation is nobody’s but yours to choose.

                  Ever heard of Nick Vujicic? Or Nando Parado? Inspiring people sound their yawps over the roofs of the world, sometimes voiceless, sometimes limbless, sometimes both. Born without arms, Jessica Cox became the most unusual certified pilot in the world, and you can rarely see her without a smile on her face. If you’ve already ripped all of your bucket lists and said goodbye to your dreams and plans, meet Sean Swarner, who’s officially became the first cancer survivor to climb Mount Everest. The stories just go on.

                  Make your own guidebook! Pen down your positive thoughts, cover your walls with quotes and devise your personal mantras. Whenever things get hard, they’ll be there to remind you of what you need to do. It’s the simplest of all life hacks, and one of the most effective ones.

                  Find beauty in the world, but never stay blind for its ugliness. However daunting, adversities and emotional pain challenge our inner strength, thus making us resilient and allowing us to grow. As soon as you recognize them as the wind in your sails instead of the devastating storm, the purpose will become simple and clear.

                  Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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