Guest Post by Eleanor Alcorn
Our company, Global Contact Services (GCS), attended the SOCAP conference held here in North Carolina last month. The event featured many keynote speakers, workshops, discussions and presentations focused on customer care professionals. One of the guest speakers at the event, Garrison Wynn, a noted motivational speaker and humorist, had a very insightful presentation that struck many chords with me. His area of expertise was effective communication between generations. As a young intern at GCS and member of Generation Z, I often feel that my contributions in the workforce are not taken as seriously as someone with more seniority. I found many points from Mr. Wynn’s presentation that were especially meaningful to me.
The first and most important thing in cross generational communication is trust. This includes the oft overlooked skill of listening. One can’t feel trusted by someone else if they are not listened to and understood. Along the same lines, it is the responsibility of the communicator to be clear in delivering the message. Ideas need to be outlined in a way that both parties can understand as to avoid blame. Mr. Wynn noted that the other party need not always agree with the points the communicator makes. Disagreement is often a healthy challenge because it makes the communicator think critically about their views. In a disagreement, however, it is important not to put the other person down or attack them personally. Agreement is also a factor important to communication. Both parties need to be willing to compromise to come to a conclusion. Agreement is often conducive to brainstorming and coming up with even better ideas that you may not have been able to come to on your own. Taking a good idea and making it better often comes out of agreement that transcends cross generational communication.
The presentation at SOCAP also highlighted the importance of praise. People in younger generations, such as my own, are more apt to respond positively to feedback and praise from veterans in the industry. If you make others feel valuable, you will in turn seem more valuable to them.
In the world of constant communication we live in, it is difficult to focus and listen to what is being said. We place a high value on ‘getting the point across’ in as few characters as possible. When it comes to communicating across generations, I think it is important to go back to the basics to make sure your message is understood.