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Embracing the Journey: Thriving Over 50 Amidst the Vitality of Youth

Business today is a vibrant tapestry of experience, talent, and perspectives, and as we age, it's easy to feel like our thread might become less prominent amidst the colorful bursts of youthful exuberance. But, as with any tapestry, it's the interweaving of old and new that creates a masterpiece.

Here are some perspectives to make the journey alongside young up-and-comers productive, enjoyable and truly fulfilling. Check out the tips-and-tricks at the end that can help you have productive inter-generational communication.

Thriving Over 50 Amidst the Vitality of Youth

THREE Healthy Perspectives on Cross-generational Interactions

1. Embrace the Magic of the Journey:

  • The road experienced professionals have traveled in their industries is rich with stories, learnings, and insights. Every turn, every challenge, and every success has been a chapter. If this is you, revel in your experiences. Share them. Remember that every young professional is on chapter one or two, while the older generations are penning a saga. Be sure to appreciate that young people’s journey has just begun, and it can still go in absolutely any direction. But also remember that the years of experiences older people have gained on their paths are tremendously valuable; you may have seen this situation before or tried a few things along the way that could give you unique and valuable insights. Be humble and appreciate what each person can bring to the table.

2. Find Joy in the Vitality of the Young:

  • It's electrifying, the energy and enthusiasm that young professionals bring. Sometimes it’s exhausting to older professionals. Try to look at this energy as a source of inspiration that can rekindle sparks in areas you might have overlooked. Think of ways to synergize tempered experience with new innovative ideas. Mentorships, collaborative projects, or team brainstorming sessions are arenas where age and experience meet novelty and creativity. The results can be nothing short of magical.

3. Cherish the Beauty of Continuous Learning:

  • There's a unique joy in discovering new trends, technologies, and thoughts. Embrace learning as a part of your journey. Younger generations – this is your time to be the guide. There's no better way to understand today's world than seeing it through young eyes.

  • While it's essential to keep updating skills and stay adaptable, also take moments to honor what older professionals bring to the table. Decades in the field have honed their soft skills, leadership abilities, and crisis management expertise. These aren't just skills; they're treasures. The clarity that comes with experience can be an invaluable compass.

The exuberance of youth and the elegance of age can come together. Over 50 or under 30, every age brings its grace to the table. Step in with confidence, enjoy every beat, and make your journey memorable. Remember, it's not about competing so much as it is about harmonizing to create a something better than either would create on its own. In the hustle to stay relevant, don't forget to take moments for introspection, celebrate your achievements, acknowledge your growth areas.

FIVE Tips for Productive Inter-generational Communication

So now you have a great positive perspective, but let’s face it, if you can’t communicate well across generations, you’re going to have a painful and non-productive experience with your younger (or older) counterparts regardless of good intention.

Effective communication across age differences, like any communication, comes down to respect, understanding, and a willingness to adapt. By acknowledging the strengths of each generation and finding common ground, professionals of all ages can foster a collaborative and enriching work environment.

Here are some tips-and-tricks to communicate in ways that foster mutual understanding, respect and productivity through collaboration.

1. Stop For a Moment Before Responding, and Try to Understand the Other Person’s Worldview:

  • Recognize that a 30-year-old has grown up in a different era than a 50-year-old, including different social, technological, and economic influences. By understanding where each person is coming from, you can better align your communication.

2. Practice Active Listening:

  • Before responding or providing feedback, ensure you've understood the other point of view. This fosters respect and open dialogue. Recognize and appreciate the other person’s knowledge, especially in areas they might be more versed. While additional years of experience can offer valuable insights and new ideas can revolutionize solutions, both of you must practice active listening to avoid coming across as if you're lecturing or condescending. It can demonstrate that you respect others’ ideas, which can pave the way for productive conversations.

  • Approach conversations as collaborative exchanges. A good friend of mine used to tell me you have two ears and one mouth – use them proportionately. It was great advice!

3. Share Your Wisdom in Ways That Communicate Openness to Change:

  • While it's natural to draw from personal experience, be cautious not to start with "Back in my day..." or “It’s always been done this way….” This can unintentionally create a distance and implies that you are not open to new ideas or ways of doing things. Younger professionals often bring fresh perspectives. Even if you don't always agree, be open to exploring these ideas.

4. Pay Attention to Cultural and Social Sensitivities:

  • Be aware that social norms and cultural touchpoints might have evolved. Being sensitive to these changes can prevent unintentional missteps. I just learned the other day that “guys” is no longer considered a gender-neutral term! The younger people were shocked I didn’t know that. The older people (like me) had no idea what the problem was when addressing a room with “hey guys”. On the other hand, don’t read Urban Dictionary and mistakenly believe you know how to use newer slang based on your online research. Slang is a big “gotcha” in inter-generational communication. Be careful when you use old slang terms and when attempting to adopt new terms. The best policy is to just simply stay away from slang in the workplace.

5. Stay Informed About New Communication Tools and Tech:

  • There are a lot of new technologies coming available every day. Staying up on them might be challenging at times. But this isn’t just a choice about inter-generational communication. This is a choice about staying informed to best perform your job duties. Remember what it was like when we were younger, and our older counterparts refused to use cell phones? Or even worse, computers? Don’t forget what it was like dealing with those technology laggards.

  • Commit to staying up-to-date with the latest communication tools and platforms, whether it's Slack, Zoom, or the newest social media app. These tools, used properly, can improve workplace efficiency. On the one hand, staying up to speed shows adaptability and makes communication seamless. On the other hand, not staying up to date is disruptive to modern work processes.


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