Communication is something that can make or break a team. Effective communication can help organizations solve problems and accomplish their goals. Poor communication can cripple organizations, creating even more problems and preventing them from focusing on achieving their goals.
The (Communication) Barriers Between Generations
There are several factors that make communicating difficult, but one of them seems to be playing a more prominent role in our society these days. From my conversations with older mentors and younger peers, the primary reason communication seems to break down in organizations today is the generational differences between our leaders.
A few weeks ago, I ran across this quote that sums up the communication barriers between older and younger leaders:
“There are two barriers that often prevent communication between the young and their elders. The first is middle-aged forgetfulness of the fact that they themselves are no longer young. The second is youthful ignorance of the fact that the middle aged are still alive.” ~ Jessamyn West
If you’ve been part of a multi-generational team in any capacity, you’ve probably seen both of those mindsets in action. Thankfully, we don’t have to settle for dealing with these issues.
Two Resources to Break Down the Barriers
After thinking about how we can effectively work around the communication difference between older and younger leaders, I came across two resources that can help us solve this problem. In essence, they provide a foundation for everything leaders of all ages should know about effective communication.
There’s no denying the fact that the communication preferences of generations are different. For younger leaders, it’s important to identify the communication preferences of older leaders. This resource provides an in-depth look at each generation and the communication style that resonates most.
Many young leaders fail to fully realize that how we communicate can be just as important as what we’re communicating. If we want our ideas to be heard, we must start by presenting them in a way that they can be heard. Doing so will not only help you communicate more effectively, it’s also one of the quickest ways to earn more influence in your workplace.
I’ve talked with several older leaders who feel like their biggest leadership challenge is being able to motivate younger generations. This video explains the worst mistake a lot of older leaders make when it comes to communicating with a younger demographic and how to overcome those challenges.
Understanding how to attract, motivate, and communicate with Millennials starts by listening. Being heard is something almost every Millennial values.
For many organizations, the potential for accomplishing our mission is directly tied to our ability as leaders to effectively communicate our thoughts and ideas. My hope is that these two resources will help you take the first steps toward improving communication between older (or younger) leaders on your team.