Communicating across generations in the workplace

With Gen Z entering the workforce, communicating across generations is getting harder! What is the best way to accomplish this? Boomers like one way, Millennials another.

I offer a training on how to do this using humanistic principles and science.

First – the science. The generations aren’t all that different actually. Personality wise – humans are humans are humans. About the same number of boomers and Gen Z are narcissistic for instance.

What does differ is our life experiences and fears. Basically – did you grow up in a time of social investment? Or a period of social disinvestment.

Boomers experienced scarcity – but also – social investment.

Gen Z – is growing up in a time where there is very little social investment and actually quite a bit of social disinvestment.  This leads to differences in the levels of social trust each group has.  Boomers have a lot of social trust.  Gen Z have a lot less.

The good new is that what we value is basically the same so we can use our values to connect to one another.  And this is true across any diversity dimension.

The problem in communication tends to be something called – dignity violations. Basically – how people feel their dignity is being violated or has been violated in the past – makes them sensitive to future dignity violations and they often won’t even consider another viewpoint until their past dignity violations have been recognized and validated by the other person.

The way to get past this defensiveness is to validate the dignity of the other person.  Don’t demand they validate your dignity before you recognize their humanity. Validate their dignity.  After that – the rest gets easier because communication and problem solving – among equals – is collaborative and respectful.

Most of the tricks to doing this involve personal practice. Recognizing your own responses to dignity violations. Recognizing how your own biases are impacting how you are feeling about the other person, and choosing to override your instinctual response and view the other person as fully human too.

Hope this helps and please let me know if I can be of any assistance to your work group. I offer training to groups to help them use science to remove unwanted behaviors - whatever they are. 

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