Who cares about generational differences, anyway?

Why should we bother getting to know more about generational differences and how they’re impacting us? I mean, there have always been differences between the age groups (think of those who used to walk 5 miles in a blizzard to school versus those of us who wanted to drive our own cars 12 blocks, getting an Egg McMuffin on the way, versus those of us that take our classes at home online). Progress means change, right? So what’s the big deal now?

The big deal now has many facets: We are living longer and working longer. It’s not all that unusual for four generations to be competing and cooperating in the same workplace. The vast technological changes are often exacerbating our generational differences. The pace of our lives has accelerated, the amount of information we are exposed to has significantly increased, and the number of people we are likely to interact with has also increased. So many more variables mean that the more efficiency and ease we can bring to any situation, the better it can become for all of us. We are all competing one way or another on a global scale – and the competition is fierce. Diversity offers enormous gifts and comes with its own issues. The challenges we are facing are so complex we need the wisdom of all the generations to address them.

Savvy business leaders know they need every competitive edge. And they know their edge is the brilliance and genius of their people. That genius resides in every generation. It takes understanding and practical steps to access and fully use the gifts of each generation.

Leaders from one generation are quite likely to overlook the possible contributions of other generations. No matter how open minded we are, it’s a natural human response to think only from our own point of view, to judge others based on our own experiences, and to be put off by differences in others. It’s still quite acceptable for us to bad-mouth other generations in ways most of us would no longer do for racial or gender differences (unless it’s girls’ night out and we’re talking about our husbands, with love, of course).

Grumbling about each other while miscommunicating and completely misunderstanding each other decreases both positivity and productivity.

Anyone who lives with, employs, works with, is employed by, serves, or sells to a different generation needs to care about generational differences. It’s a big deal. And it can be a very good big deal for those who get curious, respectful, and daring enough to find the genius of each generation.

My colleagues and I are offering a class in Greeley, Colorado, on Engaging the Genius of Each Generation on Thursday, October 25th. In this interactive one-day class you’ll get to experience the different generations and learn practical steps for effective, non-toxic communication. Contact me or go to hawkview.net/classes for more info.

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