My son is 13 and we both speak English but sometimes it’s as if one of us is speaking Martian. The words may be the same but the meaning is different. When I talk about wanting a portable grill, he thinks I’m talking about the kind that rappers and other young males wear to be cool.

I was in a high end department store the other day, looking for a casual warm weather outfit. The sales person was a young woman about 22 who said she had just the thing for me. She took me over to the rack and showed me some very low hanging pants and a shirt that was just above the midriff. Of course I was flattered that she thought I would look good in something like that, but she had no idea how to help me.

I took my son shopping for jeans today and he insisted on getting help from the youngest looking sales person who got him just what he wanted.

If we want to be successful in todays’ world, no matter what age we are, we need to be able to relate, interact and conduct business with people who may be younger or older than we are. and stop insisting that our way is the right way.

I hear so many people who are over 40 talking about how the “younger generation has no work ethic”. Then I hear so many younger people especially those under 35 complaining how the “old folks” waste so much time getting things done and working late when they could have gotten the results they needed in half the time.

They have a point. I never could understand why certain jobs that were based on outcomes and not face time insisted that people be there at a ridiculous time that had no bearing on what needed to be done, or why it wasn’t ok to get the work done at home or in a coffee shop. Times are changing and it’s important that we are flexible and question why we insist on perpetuating the same work habits that worked over ten years ago if there is another more effective way of achieving desired results.

At the same time, the younger people in the workforce need not discount all the “old ways.” A complaint that older people have is that they think that the newer workforce entrants are trained extensively at great expense and then just leave the organization to go onto new jobs with new employers.

There are more then two sides to these issues and we can all learn from each other, be more productive, and even increase our personal and organizational profit if we just learn to ask questions and listen to each other without shutting our minds to other perspectives.

Before we judge someone on the basis of their age, let’s ask some questions. We all might learn from each other, and get more joy from our work and our personal lives.

My son thinks that I’m not very cool because I don’t listen to his music, but I’ve noticed that he is now listening to some of the music I listened to when I was young. He was impressed this morning when I told him that I actually knew some of the people he considers music icons. Of course he couldn’t understand how that was possible but I did overhear him telling one of his friends that his mother was just ” a little cool.”

Simma Lieberman

Author Simma Lieberman

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