Communication, in general, can be difficult. Factor in different generational preferences and styles, and the chances for misunderstandings mushroom. As someone caught in the middle of the generation gap—I am 40—I offer these communication tips for all professionals to consider—no matter your age.
- Use technology to your advantage. I see the value of both older and newer devices, but those on the opposite ends of the age spectrum can be dismissive of unfamiliar communication technology. Newer isn’t always better, but using the same technology just because you’re comfortable with it isn’t necessarily the best approach either. I encourage you to learn a program or technology to replace “what has always worked fine” in the communication realm.
- Remember that communication is about more than words. Try to focus on how you may come across to someone in conversation. Be aware of your body language and facial expressions. Whether you know it or not, you’re sending a message with your body when you communicate.
- Engage with others, regardless of their age, as if they are peers, because they are! The days of a communication hierarchy tied to age are over. Age doesn’t impress young professionals as it once did. Those who grew up in an era where “older” automatically translated into “respect” must understand that such a mindset has largely evaporated, except within the confines of your own age group. Simple conversations with a wide range of people at work can help to establish you as an open-minded person and likely result in others being more receptive to your ideas. Taking the time to talk to those outside your comfort zone increases your chances of being heard at work.
With these few considerations, you could be on your way to building bridges with different generations at work. Each generation is unique and has something to offer. Let’s learn from one another.
Michele DeMeo was the sterile processing manager for Memorial Hospital in York, PA, and has served as a consultant for other healthcare facilities.