Tips, Videos, Handouts

Intergenerational Communications – How to talk about it

In this spontaneous video from a training room, Craig explains how he’s going run a workshop on intergenerational communications. And how he’s going to divide people by age!

Not only that, he’s going to ask each age group to “explain themselves” to each other.

In the video Craig also describes how being a certain age and thus doing things a certain way is never categorically right or wrong or good or bad. And that it takes ALL ways to make a good workplace.

This video has captions. To see them, click CC on the video screen.

Here’s what Craig says in the video

Hi everybody. Hey it’s Craig Freshley here. I’m about to do a training in this room on the topic of intergenerational communications.

This group came to me and said, “The younger people are miscommunicating with the older people. The older people don’t really understand when the younger people say or do this or that. We need a workshop on intergenerational communications.”

Now I could have gone to the literature and I could have prepared 40 slides on how to do intergenerational communications, and how not to do intergenerational communications, but instead I decided to facilitate a conversation among the different generations right here in this workplace.

I’m going to ask them to sit according to their age. Now they can self-select but I’m going to say, “Look, if you think that you’re kind of among the youngest third of the people in this room, you sit over here. And if you think you’re among the oldest third of the people in the room, you sit over here. And if you’re in the middle, you sit here in the middle.” And I’m not going to ask anybody to say their age and I’m not going be too particular about who sits where, but we’ve got to divide up roughly so we can have a conversation about different styles of communication among different generations.

And then I’m going to ask each generation for their challenges. I’m going to ask the younger people, “When an older person says or does what; you don’t know what that means. What are those things that you don’t know what they mean?” Same with the older people.

I’m going to ask everyone to actually fill out a little piece of paper. “When a younger person does blank, we’re not really sure what that means.” And I’m going to ask them to fill out these pieces of paper quietly and then after we’ve got some of this data on the table, I’m going to pick up a couple of these papers. I’m going to pick one up from the younger generation and I’m going to ask the older generation to explain that. And vice a versa. And we’re going to have a conversation and clear up some of these misunderstandings and misconceptions.

Now you might think that this is a risky thing to do. And it is a little risky, maybe even not politically appropriate, but I’m willing to take that risk because I believe there should be no judgment about age.

Look, if there is one thing in this world that I can’t change — that I have absolutely no responsibility for — it is my age. I am who I am and I should not be ashamed of my age and I have no reason to be ashamed of doing things or perceiving things the way I do just because of my age. It’s not my fault that I was born of a certain era; that a certain culture came to me and was ingrained in me.

If we want to work together it’s not about deciding that this way is right and this way is wrong, or this way is better or worse than this way. It’s simply about understanding that those of us of different ages have different ways of doing things, different ways of saying things, different ways of perceiving the world.

Let’s at least understand where each other is coming from, and value all of those different perceptions and ways of doing things. That is what is going to help this group of people work together, communicate together, and make good group decisions across generations.

We’re going to try it! Thanks for listening everybody.

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