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How to Connect with a Colleague Generations Away

Every traditional component of the work environment from where, how and why people work has been disrupted in the last decade. As a result, you are more likely to find yourself in a scenario where two people with a distinct way of working and communicating need to interact for a common goal. I’ve definitely been a witness to how these partnerships can implode really quickly.

It doesn’t matter on which end of the graph you are in, there is a common component in every human which is called ego. Ego is defined as a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance.

Competing egos are at the center of lots of workplace issues and conflicts and this particular scenario is no different. It can kill any relationship but can be especially detrimental to one that depends on the effort of the other person in order for success to be determined. While it may seem that you’re on opposite sides of just about every professional rule in etiquette and practices, you have one basic desire that connects you as humans and brought you together in the first place. That is the need to make a living. In an effort to continue to do so in the most positive and efficient way possible, there are three actions you need to take in order to connect with someone generations away.

Display empathy Actively try to understand where the other person is in their professional journey and how that affects the way they think or do things. As the younger person in this dynamic, understand that your colleague has decades of experience that is extremely valuable both from a physical and emotional standpoint. As the older person in this dynamic, it’s important to understand how much the world has changed since you were in this position and what new challenges your colleague faces in the workplace.

Respect each other Regardless of your opinion of each other, respect the differences that exist between the two of you and leverage them to your advantage to complete the common goal. Actively try to leverage the talents each of you possess to make your life easier and get more done in a productive manner. So given the project, identify which tasks each of you can handle in the most efficient manner and proceed with that plan.

Ask Questions Take the time to learn from each other. As you are working together, ask questions to understand a thought pattern or learn something you currently do not know. A method I’ve used over and over again is a coffee chat. This provides a less stressful setting outside the office and provides an opportunity to actively listen and engage on a more personal level. Asking questions about each other’s experience is a great way to discover connections that you would of never known existed.

The idea is to show a genuine interest in the other person.

If you have a question or are interested in learning more, connect with me.


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