A decade ago, I worked on a project with a Veteran, a Baby Boomer, I was the Gen X and we had a fresh Gen Y. To say that we had different approaches, levels of enthusiasm and varied beliefs was an understatement. It was at this point that I knew that I had to work with the ‘gap’ and not widen the divide.
I walk through life with my ‘Gen X’ glasses on and can be very judgemental. It will always be that way; the rubber-band always flicks back (with a sting!) So, if I learnt anything, these were my five practices which I had to work on, it wasn’t second nature:
- Talk – ask each other questions to explore and discover the various expectations and views – this worked well to understand how ‘stakeholders’ might view our project.
- Listen – use those ears to hear what is being said rather than using your ‘generation filter’ – it was too easy to form the next ‘Gen X’ dialogue in the argument rather than appreciate others’ views.
- Lead – work to help each other, not to find flaws – this was the case with the use of technology (and still is today) – we had to create multiple approaches for the implementation of our project to suit the different Generations - it wasn't 'one size fits all'.
- Laugh – a reminder that we’re human and that a good laugh is a great tonic – in all seriousness, it was the lunches that pulled us through the ‘great divide’.
- Learn – we learnt to invest in understanding how to work with the gaps, opposed to being ignorant. Although this particular example was 10 years ago, it is still a matter yet to be mastered and there is a load of learning taking place on this very subject!
The trick is, in any relationship, view life not only through your own filter or ‘rose coloured glasses’ but that of those whom you wish to positively influence.