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We Need An Olive Branch: The Generational Divide

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Senator Dianne Feinstein  85, from California doesn’t believe that kids should have a voice. That was the thoughts she portrayed in a video that went viral when a group of kids visited her at her San Francisco office Friday February 22nd.

Like many adults from a different era, she treated those that are younger like they just don’t know what they’re talking about.

“You come in here and you say ‘it has to be my way or the highway.’ I don’t respond to that,” Feinstein told about a dozen kids who visited her San Francisco office Friday morning. “I’ve gotten elected, I just ran, I was elected by almost a million-vote plurality, and I know what I’m doing.”

The group was there in attempts to get her support on the Green New Deal that has become an attempt from Green Party US to provide provisions for a more sustainable future for us and generations to come– generations like those that stood in front of Feinstein that day as she was dismissive and rude to hearing what they had to say.

Communication gaps like this one are creating generational differences that make it hard to work together in a professional setting. Managers from the Baby Boomer generation have a set belief that Millennials and Gen Z are entitled, lazy and disconnected. Millennials on the other hand think that the older folks just don’t get it and need to get with the times.

Who is really right? Both. Yes, Millennials can be entitled, have a need for instant gratification and do spend more times hooked into technology than ever before.

There are many reasons for this, but are in no way the fault of this generation alone. We grew up with parents that wanted to make us feel special, so the group is used to participation awards and when thrusted into reality outside of school it is almost a shock to realize that things are not handed to us.

Instagram and Facebook were staples of everyday life and we felt the need to compete with others, not realizing that a lot of it was living through filters and not a true reflection of what was happening in real life. To combat our low self esteem we look to social media to justify ourselves, always chasing the next level of dopamine.  

As these societal norms have been integrated into our lives, the younger generation may lack the ability to balance professional lives with our addicted lives. There is no patience, as instant gratification has become the expectation. Instantly checking movie times, calling a car to pick us up and go anywhere, no need to go find a date because there are millions of options in our phones.

This doesn’t translate well into the workplace though. And that is because there is a severe lack of job satisfaction. And the older generation needs to help us get there.

While the generation is one that could be seen weak, there is also so many great benefits to the younger, newer era. Being intuitive, wanting to make a difference, higher creativity levels, there are clear benefits from growing up in the age that we did.

Old systems of corporate environments are a thing of the past. Management within these companies must adapt to the times and help this new workforce maximize their potential. We need a shift of thinking on all sides. In an ever changing world, we need to address these challenge head on, and to do so we must learn how to work together.

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