Communicating with compromise across generations

If you?ve ever experienced the frustration of the neglected voicemail ? leaving a well thought out, detailed voicemail for a Millennial who will never listen to it ? or been confronted with a deadpan response when asking a Traditionalist to just text you, you know that communicating across generations takes some skill and forethought.

A group of those Traditionalists recently lamented the fact that they want to have conversations with their children and grandchildren but feel as though the technology is beyond them, to be able to do so. One asked how she could get her grandson to not pull out his cell phone every time he came for a visit. A Millennial doesn?t understand why her aunt, who is pushing 70, can?t just text her instead of calling all the time.

With family and friends, these challenges are annoying and disappointing.

In the workplace, these challenges can lead to communication breakdowns, errors, and conflicts.

When there is no compromise, there is increased potential for misinterpretation and serious consequences. Leaving a voicemail for a team member who will not listen to it or texting a co-worker who does not read text messages can have disastrous results.

Communicating across generations successfully takes compromise. If a co-worker prefers face-to-face conversations or phone calls, make the effort to sit down with him for a meeting or call him occasionally. When a younger co-worker says that she prefers to get a text or email, take the time to learn enough technology to make that happen every once in a while.

If you?re immersed in the fast-paced, high tech world of tweets and texts, take a few steps back and slow it down just a bit when you?re communicating with people who are not comfortable in that world. If you haven?t learned the technology, reach out to a younger mentor who can show you how to become at least a small part of that world.

Bridging the perceived generation gap requires efforts on all sides of the gap.

Compromise. Communicate. Connect.

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