I remember my mom and dad telling us stories growing up about how tough things were when they were our age. My sisters and I would be shocked by some of the circumstances they endured as kids. We now know that some were embellished just a bit, but nonetheless these stories taught my sisters and me to be grateful for what we had and appreciate life.
But hearing stories from a parent is different than hearing them from a co-worker, manager or boss. How do you talk to your employees that are younger than you? Do you talk about how easy things are now that we have technology? Do you talk about the “good ole’ days” when you made a deal on a napkin at the bar? Do you talk about the importance a handshake used to have?
None of these is bad – the younger generation should know about them. But how we talk about “the ole’ days” is the problem.
We can talk about the way things used to be, the difficulties, the high and low points of our industry. But we do not have to talk down to the person while doing it.
Saying things like “When I was your age” only makes the speaker 1) look old and 2) look like they think the person they are talking to is a child.
We need to share stories about how we came up through the industry. We need to mentor. We need to teach. But we need to communicate and not just talk. We need to listen and hear what the other person has to say. We need to ask questions to make sure our message is getting across the way we want it to. We need to answer questions and promote more questions by not sounding pompous.
Being older doesn’t always mean we know more, it means we have lived through more. We have a lot to offer the younger generations, and for me I know I have a lot to still learn.
Sharing information is a lot different than telling a story – it brings the other person into the conversation instead of us standing on a pedestal talking.
Bring people into your conversations – whether clients, co-workers, family, etc and the ride you are both on will be a lot smoother.