Keys to Make Intergenerational Communication More Easy

Every message has a delivery and a reception, but there are a lot of things that can get in the way. If you’re serious about making a difference in the quality of communication at your business, employ these common-sense tips consistently, and you’ll notice a big difference in the way you’re heard.

Trust and Respect
Without fail, these are the two most important parts of a multi-generational relationship. The younger generation is looking for trust in the abilities they’ve amassed and want to be put to work for the good of the business. The older generation is looking for respect for what they’ve built. Maybe it’s not the biggest or most modern greenhouse, but it’s here and thriving after all these years.


Are you truly showing trust and respect to your partners? It’s not the thought that counts, it’s the action.

Build trust by showing respect. “I got this!” isn’t a business plan, so don’t come to the table saying only “we need a new (fill in the blank).” Demonstrate your analysis in support of any investment or direction you propose to your business partners.

It’s not the thought that counts; it’s the action. Earn respect by giving trust: most of us learn more from our mistakes than our successes. How can you minimize risk to the business and give the younger generation a chance to try out their skills at the same time?

You Can’t Change the Other Person
You can only change yourself. Are you willing? Last year, we got a puppy. The training book repeatedly mentioned the need for clear instructions, repetition, and consistent reinforcement. The comment that stuck with me was, “When there’s an issue, it’s usually with the two-legged animal, not the four-legged one.”

I’ve since noticed that many dog owners aren’t consistent with their commands. Does “down” mean lie down or get off the couch? Ask yourself: “What am I doing that gets in the way of communicating clearly?”

Set Clear Expectations
If you don’t clearly state what you want, and you get something different, that’s on you.

My husband offered to refill the beverages at a recent family dinner. My aunt said, “Great! I’d like this much champagne mixed with this much pink lemonade, and three ice cubes,” and she demonstrated exactly what “this much” meant. My uncle immediately said, “Stop being so bossy!” But was she?

Now my husband didn’t have to wonder or worry that he poured the right drink. My aunt got the drink she wanted, and nobody wasted any alcohol.

If You’re Not Sure, Ask
We know what it means to assume, yet we do it all the time. It’s almost always worse in your head, and you can’t lose something you never had.

It’s time for one of my clients to renew the lease between generations. The landlords (older generation) proposed a one-year term.

All the lessees (younger generation) heard was, “We’re not with you for the long haul. You don’t believe in the future here, and maybe you’re planning to sell.”

One of the older generation was thinking, “I don’t want to work here for more than a year,” and the other was thinking, “I’m doing some estate planning, and I don’t want to have to redo documents once I put this property into an LLC.”

What could we accomplish if we actually talked this out?

Why Are We Doing This?
In a labor force where 6 million people are looking for work and there are 7 million jobs unfilled, you’re in competition to get and keep the good ones. What makes you stand out as a good place to work? Thinking big picture means having: A clear statement of purpose (why), a clear vision of what success looks like (what), and a way to know that we’ve accomplished it (how).

So many of us are good at the what and the how, but we’ve never spent any time on why. It might have been a good idea at the time, and we kept doing it, but that’s not going to cut it anymore. A clear purpose gives you the chance to double down on what you’re doing and get your team excited about being part of it. It will also give those who are not excited a chance to exit the scene. Spend the time developing a clear why. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.