Communicate, Accept, Respect: Improving Relationships Among Five Working Generations

April 15, 2018

Let’s talk R.E.S.P.E.C.T and find out what it means to me. As we face an ever-changing, diversifying workforce, we are going to see more and more of this battle that exists between generations today. For several years there has been trash talk going on among various generations, more particularly, between the boomers and the millennials. Why? Because of the simple fact that millennials are stepping up into management roles, taking over executive roles, and even hiring many of the older generations who are in career transitions.


With this trash talk spreading around, there are thousands of organizations that are franticly trying to help those of different generations 


. When you bring people of different ages together, there will inevitably be varied opinions, preferences, work styles, etc. There are three things that must be applied in order for these different generations to get along and stop the negative talk around the office. Communication is a golden key to finding improved unity and alliance in a team unit. We must also be willing to accept one another, accept where we came from, and accept the way we view the world around us. Lastly, we need to respect one another. That isn’t saying we must agree with each other all the time, but by respecting one another, we can better find the good in those we work with.



Communication is the golden key


Every relationship benefits from the application of constant and proper communication. “The survey of 403 U.S.-based senior executives, managers, and junior staff found that communication barriers are leading to a delay or failure to complete projects (44 percent), low morale (31 percent), missed performance goals (25 percent) and even lost sales (18 percent) — some worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.” Failure to properly communicate can not only cause barriers and loss in organizational advancement, but it can place barriers in between your team members and employees.


In order for teams to move forward and fulfill on their projects, they need to understand each other’s communication preferences.  Do baby boomers prefer email? Is the manager a millennial that prefers text messages when an assignment is immediately required? Figure out how you can better get to know what it is your team is looking for in regards to communication methods.

How often do your team members like to communicate? Is it a millennial who believes one email a day will suffice, or a Gen Xer that prefers a meeting and multiple calls and/or emails to accomplish the task? Whatever the case, people from different generations typically have varied preferences in communication styles, so we must understand what our team needs and expects.


Over-communication is never a bad idea either. I have noticed that millennials prefer over-communication as opposed to under-communicating. Millennials have been raised in a world where feedback, suggestions, and guidance are highly favored. Traditionalists were raised in a world where they didn’t get to speak with their managers as often or have such tight-knit relationships with those they work for. It’s a matter of understanding your team and what they need in order to excel and work better together.

Accept one another


If we understand the importance of communication in the workplace and within our daily relationships, it does no good unless we are willing to accept the preferences of those we communicate with. There is a distinct difference between good and bad communication, and not accepting others and what their beliefs or needs are does not support the art of positive communication.


Accept who you are. Accept who those you work with are. Accept the fact that you are all different and that’s okay! You may think they are weird, but odds are they think you are weird too. We all have our own faults and abilities. We must accept those for what they are and understand we all face demons and all need support.