Generational Communication: 5 Ways to Communicate Better

by Betty Lochner on August 10, 2010

Here are 5 Sure Fire Ways to Communicate Better with all Generations

1) It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, respect all people on your team – appreciate different perspectives and embrace the differences instead of fighting them or letting them make you crazy. 

Re-channel frustrating behavior and energy into a project that can profit from different points of view. For example, bring together the fresh perspectives of the young and the wisdom of the experienced.  You can start this process by demonstrating how it works – be a good role model.

2) Be open and honest about your expectations and give respectful feedback when you get behavior you didn’t expect or that isn’t appropriate for the situation.  And for heaven’s sake, don’t assume that people understand your undisclosed expectations! Don’t roll your eyes when the skirt is too short. Instead say: “that skirt is too short for our workplace”.

I once hired a new receptionist that wore a suit to the interview but showed up on her first day in a mini-skirt and a very revealing top.  I went to her and explained what business casual looks like in our office.  Now, I make sure I share that information in the interview or when I make the job offer!

3) Shovel the pile while the pile is small. Anticipate conflicts and pull them out into the open — talk about them! Generational conflicts are based primarily on unspoken assumptions and unconscious criteria.

When something needs to be said, say it in a kind and respectful way.  Be brave and communicate what you should communicate!  Deal with small issues before the issues get big.

4) Pause, breath in slowly, and listen to understand!

  • Say:” Tell me More”, or “Help me to Understand”.
  • Listen with every bone in your body. Listen like what you are hearing will change your life forever! Sound dramatic? Try it.  Don’t be distracted by anything else and pay attention. It works.
  • Find a way to understand their facts, their feelings and their perceptions. Ask questions and find out what they mean.

5) Regularly show appreciation – catch people doing something you like and tell them!  Appreciation and gratitude are amazingly powerful communication tools to connect with those around you.  Telling someone you liked what they did, how they behaved, etc. will reinforce the behavior you want to see!

Okay, you’re ready now.  Go communicate better!   And, remember, the more you practice these skills, the easier they become.


Betty Lochner is the Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training. She specializes in personal and organizational transformation and is the author of Dancing with Strangers: Communication skills for transforming your life at work and at home.

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