We all know Baby Boomers who get mad every time they talk about Millennials. Maybe that’s you. Likewise, there are Millennials who Can. Not. Wait. for Boomers to retire.
Four Generations at Work
In study after study, employees report that generational conflict makes it hard to get work done. Nearly half of us feel our generation is viewed negatively at work. We could pile up stats like this all day. Here’s what they mean:
it's likely you are making somebody tear out their hair at this very moment. You don’t even have to try. You just have to be a bona fide member of your unique, fabulous and exasperating generation just doing what you do.
When I’m leading a session in a company where there has been an incident inciting grievances against a specific generation, I simply let the room vent. I ask people to complain about other generations. But first I set a timer for three minutes. When the buzzer goes off, we’re done. No more blaming. We start working, which means looking at your own generational traits and expectations, and discovering that sometimes your gen doesn’t play well with others, either.
Here’s the point.
If you really develop Generational Intelligence, you will laugh or sigh, even hurt a little for your own generation and for others. That’s because Generational Intelligence is an emotional skill, as much as an analytical one. Yes, we must break Generational Intelligence into cognitive steps, but generational skills begin in those what-the-heck-just-happened interactions that leave us feeling disrespected, irrelevant, mad or disappointed.
The Fun Part
Or—and this is the good part—those moments when someone from another generation (almost, but not quite, from another planet) gives you a high five, a fist bump or a thumbs up or says “Dope” or “Cool” or some other equally idiosyncratic generational thingy that means I really, really like working with you.
Generational Intelligence means raising your awareness of cross-generational interactions, and—Geek Alert—engaging the limbic section of the brain as well as the pre-frontal cortex. By doing so, you can develop a skill we all very much need today: the awareness and social savvy it takes to lead, influence and work with people who are not like you. And that can help you succeed.
Amy Lynch is a generations expert, keynote speak and consultant. Her newest book Harness the Bang: How to Market, Lead and Innovate with Generational Intelligence is forthcoming in spring 2017.
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