I wanted to spend some time talking a bit about generational differences.
What stereotypes have you made toward those who are younger or older than you?
Have you ever been perceived a certain way based on your age?
Well, right now I bet if I asked everyone they would answer yes to both.
Why is it that we lump each generation together?
The idea to discuss generations came about after visiting my Aunt Frankie who recently turned 96 years old over the weekend.
During the two hour visit we sat at the dining room table sipping tea and eating assorted pastries. At one point Frankie began to tell stories about her experiences teaching. My grandmother, Frankie and their siblings grew up in Richwood, West Virginia. Frankie first taught in West Virginia and then had the idea to find out about teaching abroad, this was in the 1940s. Her and one of her best friends went to interview. There were multiple countries that the interviewer asked if Frankie would be willing to go and teach. One of the countries was Okinawa. Shortly after the interview, Frankie was informed that she was selected for Okinawa. She headed abroad and her teaching experiences had her in Okinawa, Japan, Korea and eventually Germany.
As she told her story myself (millennial/gen xer), my aunt Janis (baby boomer), and my son Caelan (gen Z) listened to every word.
In the above scenario we might say my great aunt who is in the traditionalist is long winded and doesn’t understand the times or I know that ten year old at the table is going to ask for his phone to play Fortnite.
Well, neither of those were true, here we had four generations present all engaging in the conversation together, laughing and sharing stories.
You might be thinking right now, who cares and why does this matter.
Because we are about to have five generations in the workplace. Not only the workplace, consider in your families, at the place you workout, your church or synagogue, or social activities. People are living longer, working longer, and overall engaged in various activities longer.
With my class on Monday we were talking about the job search process and the importance of understanding the impact of multiple generations in a work environment. For class we watched the following Ted Talk to kick start our conversation.
I challenge all of us to intentionally think about our own generation and other generations. Google for a bit and take some time to read up on your generation and those before you and after you.
We can many times get caught up in the stereotype of one generation very easily. For example, that baby boomer over their sure does work hard but doesn’t know one thing about technology or that millennial over there knows their technology but always has ear plugs in and never listens.
Many times I’ve been in professional situations where I am the youngest and it is assumed I know how to fix the technology problem or I’m just another one of those millennials who only cares about social media.
We’ve all been there, generation after generation perceiving things about the generation before us and after us.
Over the next week, I challenge us to think about how we interact with others from different generations.
How might we find time to know the story of another generation to keep harmony in the workplace, our families, and our social activities?
A breath of our inspiration, is the life of each generation. - Arthur William Edgar O'Shaughnessy
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