Emad Barsoum writes: The Clash of Generations (3)
When I wrote about the clash of generations, the differences between the younger and older generation, I never expected to receive as much feedback as the ones received from the younger generations; which I considered an extremely interesting phenomenon, to get the younger generation engaged in such kind of discussion.
However, when Kate, my young colleague, a very smart and active young lady walked in my office last week, with a firm step and serious look, carrying a folded paper and handing it to me, I was astounded when I unfolded the paper. It carried a handwritten letter, and after going through it twice, I realized it is one of the best responses and interaction yet to my writings. A response that demonstrates the brilliance of its writer and her genuine true thoughts, and her willingness to be a major party in the dialogue between different generations, as a example of a responsible young lady to be the loud sound of her generation, who is trying to tell us how we should listen to them and how to have a conversation with them without presumptions or judgemental minds.
It is of my delight to share with you, parts of her letter, for us to be all engaged with our younger generation, our future.
I’ve taken the time to read over the articles that you have published, and I’d love to share my input about the clash of generations.
My first time truly understanding the clash of the generations was at one of my first jobs. Within a year I was fully trained. Soon enough the store owner made me a supervisor, during a time when all the systems were changing in the store. The cash manager at the time had for nearly 20 years, It was made my task to retrain her about the new systems Unfortunately, she did not take it well Sure enough, she told me there was no way that she needed to learn from a 16 year old who had hardly been on this world long enough to compare to the amount of years she had worked at the store. “Enough is enough” she said and refused my help.
I went home and thought about this for hours. I wondered why I’m being perceived as a cocky person. Then it came to me, just as people my age may feel threatened by elders due to their great success and never-ending knowledge…. Just maybe our elders may be slightly threatened by our malleable minds or our quick speed of learning. I thought, there might be a bit of fear of store owners wanting to replace valued long-term employees for lower paid and more impressionable youth. I felt bad once I understood that her rejection was partly frustration of not being able to pick up new information quickly. Weeks went by, and she eventually came to me and apologized for her previous frustration and thanked me for what I have done to indirectly showing how the new system works. This taught me a valuable lesson: the clash between generations could be avoided as long as the elder is open to learning some of the new ways of the world, and to understand that the youth is not always full of themselves as they may appear, they just have different ways of approaching people. As well as the youth has to learn to remain respectful and patient and must appreciate and value the wisdom of the elder.
I have found through my many years of work, youth may be quick learners but feel entitled to do the least amount of work possible, as if good work ethic wasn’t passed down to them. I’ve found elders may take a bit longer to learn, however they show much more respect, and they put more genuine efforts into their work. Both have benefits and setbacks which means not one is greater than the other. I believe businesses would prosper greatly if both generations can appreciate and fully understand each other. Times are ever-changing, and both generations need to learn to work together in an appropriate manner to get the most out of any situation where both parties are involved.