Talkin’ About My Generation

Talkin’ About My Generation

“Kids these days~ they expect everything but they don’t respect anything!”

Flavia complains about her new team mates, Viola and Vinny, who have just joined the workforce.

“She’s so obsessive,” says Viola, when asked how she is settling in with her project manager.

These are recent exchanges, but they might have taken place years ago –  a generation or two ago, actually.  Misunderstandings between people of different ages have been the norm for, maybe, ever.  But now it seems to have become a Thing.   Now we give names to the generations and we attach characteristics, usually unflattering ones, to them, and then we blame them for everything that goes wrong in our workplaces.

Not surprisingly, an industry has sprouted to tell us what to do about this Generation Problem.  We have books and articles and workshops on how to deal with this group or that group, and we’re cautioned to understand the world events that have probably led to the insularity or suspicion or expectations of each.

Here’s what I wonder:  is everyone born within a given 20 year span the same? Do all of those folks think, believe, act, and annoy each other in the same ways?  Is it possible that there are differences in the people who were born within that time period – differences of gender, ethnicity, geographic origin, position in the family, talents, intelligence, taste in music and ice cream?

If so, if we can agree that there are lots of ways that people are different, let’s consider what we do about that since we encounter these folks every day.  We talk to them.  We ask questions, we share information, and we listen to what they think and want.  That is, we do these things if we know how to do them successfully and gracefully, and if we want to navigate the wonderful and mysterious paths to understanding.

Never mind when they were born.