So last week I wrote an article explaining how to get along with older coworkers.
And you know what? ALOT of people had a problem with it. Thankfully, I didn’t get any death threats. I don’t like those. They’re not cool.
But I just don’t understand what the huge controversy was.
Here’s the deal…we’re working in a multigenerational environment and it’s in everyone’s best interest to get along. Unfortunately, it seems that there are a lot of misconstrued ideas about both younger and older workers. Both parties have to deal with ageism, prejudices, stereotypes, and as a result, rather than working together, different generations end up ostracizing eachother.
Why can’t we be friends? Why can’t we work together? Why does it have to be so awkward?
So now that we’ve discussed how to get along with older coworkers, here are some tips on how to get along with the new generation of workers, the GenYs, your younger coworkers…
1. Make them think they’re geniuses. Even if they’re not. In general, younger workers have a difficult time adapting to new employees, in particular, OLDER employees. Why? Because for the most part they’ve been used to socializing with people their own age. Then, when they enter workforce, they’re automatically percieved as those bratty kids that don’t know anything. They’re not asking for a whole lot. They just want others to value them. They want their coworkers to feel that they do in fact bring something to the table. Whether it’s the understanding of technology, or a positive outlook on life, they want to feel that they contribute something to the team. So let them think they’re awesome. Tell them they’re awesome. It’ll make them feel important and they’ll be less likely to hate you.
2. Find something you have in common. Working with people half your age can be a bit strange. Why? Because it’s hard to find common interests. So here’s what you do. YOU GET TO KNOW THEM! Talk to them about their college years. Maybe you studied the same thing in school. Talk to them about their romantic failures, I’m sure they can use all the advice they can get. Maybe find a tv show that you both watch. Talk about traveling. Maybe discuss pets…everyone loves pets. You see, point is that regardless of how completely different you are from everyone you work with, if you look hard enough, I’m sure you can find at least ONE common interest. But please, don’t think that you have to get drunk and go clubbing in order to have something to talk about with your younger coworkers.
3. Ask them about their future. One of the things I’ve discovered while working with people much older than me is that for some reason, I love sharing with others my future dreams and goals. The people that I’m most receptive to are the ones that take a genuine interest in my future and want to help me get there. Whether it’s by throwing opportunities my way or simply providing me with guidance and advice, either way, it’s GREATLY appreciated. So just listen to their stories, listen to their hopes and goals. Some of them could be interesting and you might actually end up learning a thing or two about life.
4. When all else fails, bring them food. Everyone likes free food (ESPECIALLY broke recent college grads). It’s hard to NOT like the person in the office that brings the free food. So do this, and your younger coworkers will love you. If you can provide them with the recipe, they’ll love you even more.
That’s it. You see? It’s simple.
But here’s the thing…for those of you that read last week’s post, you’ll notice that the tips provided ARE THE SAME!!!
The intention is not to insult or offend anyone. It’s to showcase the fact that in order for different generations to get along in the workforce, people just have to be NICE. We need to get to know the people that we work with and then appeal to their interests and needs. That’s the only way to be successful in life.
What do you think? True or false? Join the conversation. Regardless of whether you’re 12 or 25 or 89, what’s the key to getting along with others at work?