I’ve been spending a lot of time on Linkedin lately, and I’ve noticed a disturbing trend. Instead of using the site for its intended purpose, people are taking to the social network to complain about their generational counterparts. Boomers and Gen-Xers complain that Millennials are lazy, entitled, and selfish. Millennials blame Boomers and X-ers for the state of the economy and the enormous debt they acquired so they could go to college and get a degree that really isn’t helping them build the career that they wanted. And that’s just the beginning of the complaints. The list goes on and on from both sides.
It has to stop.
This generation-bashing does nothing to strengthen your network. It does nothing to help your business. It does nothing to help you move forward in your career. Its a waste of time and, quite frankly, it damages your professional life.
I was born into that little micro-generation between Gen-X and Millenial. I had a childhood that was free from the internet, social media, and smartphones, but I’m still young enough to have really taken advantage of that stuff when it finally arrived. As a result, I’ve been awarded the gift of being able to see things from both points of view and get a bit of what I think is a pretty clear perspective on the matter.
The Social Megaphone
I have read articles, spoken to countless people in both generations and taken note of my own experiences as both an employee and someone in a leadership position. I really wanted to understand what was going on here. I mean, sure, generational differences have always existed, but it seemed to be a little more severe this time around. It turns out that, in this particular case, technology is partly to blame. Well, maybe not the technology itself, but the way people choose to use it for sure.
The advent of social media gave essentially gave everybody with a computer or a smartphone a way to blast their message out to the world. This meant that people who wanted to complain could now do so on a global scale, and that’s exactly what they did. People wrote blog articles, posted on social media, and did whatever else they could to express their discontent to as many people as possible. It’s no wonder why the rift between generations seems so large.
Quit Trying to Change Each Other
Still, I wanted to discover the root of the issue, so I dug into those social media posts and blog articles. I digested every word that I could find. Truth be told, I almost expected that I would primarily take the side of the Millennials (you can blame the natural anti-authoritarian in me for that), but when it came down to it, I had to place the blame for this generational war on both sides.
See, the differences between the generations isn’t the problem. The problem is that people are doing a whole lot of complaining, and a whole lot of trying to change the other person. Just like in any relationship, when you try to change the other person, instead of focusing on what you can do, it ends badly.
We Need to Learn How to Work Together
Here are the facts: (1) Millennials officially make up the majority of the workforce now. (2) Still, Boomers and X-ers hold the majority of leadership positions. This means that the older generations are going to have to find a way to inspire and motivate Millennials to get the job done. It also means Millennials are going to have to suck it up and do things that they don’t wholeheartedly agree with. Either way, we have to learn how to work with each other.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have been able to work with people from all walks of life, and I’ve come to discover that compassion, empathy, gratitude, and kindness are universal languages. They transcend generational boundaries. When practiced, they can bring together people who would not ordinarily mix.
In the words of Gary Vaynerchuk, we need to “make positivity louder.”