What bothers me is that most of these articles take on the tone of “How to deal with ____ generation.” That tone is the problem. You’re seeking advice on ways to work with a diverse group of people and the tone of the article is negative from the start. Our perception of an experience comes from the choices we make, and our mindset going into a situation can define that experience as positive or negative.
Many times, generations get unfairly labeled. You can’t label an entire group of people born within X number of years and expect those views to reflect in every workplace. Stereotypes will always be stereotypes. A stereotype, by its very definition, is “an oversimplified idea of a particular type of person or thing.” When we oversimplify each other, we begin to oversimplify the human experience and what it means to really get to know one another. I don’t think I could morally brush someone off because I believe I think I know about their work ethic simply because I’ve Googled it.
For example, I saw this picture online that said, “My mom says she’s ‘bad at computers because her generation is bad with them,’ and then I remind her Bill Gates is part of her generation.” There are always exceptions! I feel these articles are creating a passive-aggressive tension between generations and other bloggers and I would like it to stop.
I know anecdotal evidence is a flawed argument but my goal is just to make everyone take all of these “Generational Advice” articles with a grain of salt. I believe if you like what you do, you work hard, and you develop emotional intelligence to mitigate damage to communications- you will most likely not find difficulty in the workplace. Humor also has this fantastic way of transcending personal factors. I’ve worked in many offices and everyone has had a great sense of humor… thank goodness. You can’t work with people all day long and not find ways to make one another laugh. (You physically can’t- don’t try it! It would be bad for your health!)
Please don’t take this post to mean a homogenous workplace could be just as good as a diverse workplace. Perhaps it could, yes, but I truly believe you need diversity in opinions, levels of experience, and varying specialties for an organization to reach its potential. When it comes to working in an office with multiple generations, I believe the best advice is to just treat people like people. If you’re new and looking for advice, here: take a deep breath, smile, and introduce yourself to your coworkers. You will get to know everyone in time.