“I just don’t understand them. They know everything and are not shy about telling everyone. How do you get along with people like that?”
Is this the common complaint about a baby boomer, generation X or millennial? Every age group has distinct and different behavior patterns, but one consistent attitude with each generation is the idea that they know best. The “I’m right because it worked for me” attitude crosses all age groups and causes personality clashes in the workplace, as well as in the family unit.
The first step to crossing the age barrier is to appreciate the accomplishments of each generation. Whether a person is older or younger than you are, they too have wrestled with the challenges of the world. They carved out their niche, making choices that were unique to their lifestyle.
To better communicate with others:
- Listen with tolerance – Focus on what the speaker is saying and keep an open mind. Listen without making a judgment.
- Be aware of your differences – Different words and events have different meanings depending on the person’s background.
- Express yourself clearly and constructively
- Avoid negative generalizations.
- Learn when to give feedback – ask if the speaker would like any helpful suggestions or if they just need to vent.
A stressful conversation reduces our ability to listen. If anger and tension are preventing you from using these communication techniques, ask the other person if they would mind taking a break. Take time to relax and breathe before resuming the conversation.
Understand that each generation will make their own choices and you may not agree with those choices. Accept that others have different ideas. Listen with compassion. If asked, offer your opinion with grace.
Enjoy the fruits of true communication and you will be able to get along with “people like that”.