What Generation Gap?
“Yeah, I am so sure; anyway I am on a total break from my freshman year at Harvard.”
“Wow like you’re a legacy and everything right? I’m thinking maybe Brown or maybe Stanford, I don’t know, it’s no big thing- whatever….”
My partner and I overheard the above comments (and more) while taking a coffee break in a fairly affluent neighborhood. The above exchange caused us to look at one another with raised eyebrows.
Click here to listen to this 3 min 46 sec message from Margaret.(Or continue reading below.)
- What we were hearing was the language of the millennial generation. People who come from different generations don’t sound like people from other generations. They are not supposed to sound like other generations. This is a good thing! We need variety and we need the change and the values and different ways of thinking of all generations. What we do not need is to judge other people because they choose to express themselves differently.
- When I was that age, people from older generations probably questioned my intellect. The nerve, right? I knew I was smart, how come they did not know I was smart? How come all of these older people I worked with spoke to me like I was an ignorant child? In fact I worked with someone who insisted on calling me kid. I started calling him ‘pops’. I am not sure if he ever did get the point. Or maybe I was the one who did not get the point?
- What we were hearing was also lack of confidence. Here were these two intelligent young women, capable of gaining access to top notch universities and they were still hesitant and questioning in their communication style. It was as if they were afraid to sound intelligent and they were downplaying their accomplishments. As they move forward the experiences they have with people from other generations will really make or break their self-confidence.
- How other people respond to them will make an impact. You and I have the ability to make a difference in the life of everyone person we meet no matter what generation they represent. We can help people from younger generations feel welcome and valued by listening to them and by not judging them even though they speak differently, walk differently, dress differently. We can help people from older generations feel relevant and valued by not judging them because they speak differently, walk differently and dress differently.
There is a big common theme here and you see it don’t you? When you first encounter someone you can judge them and set them aside or be open to them no matter how they walk or talk.
You are capable of seeing beyond the boundaries of generation (or any other differences we might have) and to extend compassion and acceptance to the people who cross your path. The way in which you respond to someone does make a difference in their lives and in yours. You can ignore them or devalue them and send them away feeling disgruntled. If you do you have just cheated yourself out of a learning opportunity. You can also make the decision to learn about your differences and to invite them into your world. Somewhere along the way, didn’t someone do that for you? Didn’t you appreciate it when they did? Now you have the opportunity to return the favor and to set a positive example. You may never see the difference you have made in that person’s life, but know that you can and do make a difference.
Want to use this article in your eZine or web site? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Dedicated to helping professionals become free from the work related conflict that prevents them from experiencing peace, Margaret Meloni publishes the ‘Turning Point’ eZine on a bi-weekly basis. Contact Margaret at info@MargaretMeloni.com.