Sep 08, 2014
When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years. - Mark Twain
Of course lack of acceptance and respect between generations can happen both ways. The young consider those older as too set in their ways and not up to date with the 'new' knowledge and trends. Conversely, the older generations can dismiss the young as inexperienced and lacking wisdom. It’s been that way for millennia.
Cat Stevens wrote about it from the other perspective to Twain’s in Father and Son when he sang "From the moment I could talk I was ordered to listen."
In setting my boundaries at the start of the various programs I facilitate, I talk about the two words "I know" and how those two simple words can shut down the learning process. I encourage participants to use these words in a different way to keep alert to the new perspectives they can gain if they have been in their job for a while or are covering the subject matter again and feel they already 'know' the ideas.
These two words can be just as problematic when used on 'people' just as much as a body of knowledge. "I know you" or "I know what you’re going to say" can make for bad relationships, destroy good ones or never even get one off the ground.
Rather than presuming to 'know' each other, perhaps curiosity and open questions might help bridge the gaps we find between generations. Taking an interest in another is one of the best ways to build a relationship and is a mark of respect. We generally do this in relationships where we feel there is already some common ground but are less inclined to do that with people where we may feel there is too much of a difference between us.
As well as building the relationship, taking an interest just might give us some clues as to what motivates the other.
For those who lead people, during the course of our working day, we can also strike the words "I don’t know," but that’s a whole other kettle of fish and blog post in its own right.