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20-40-60 Etiquette: How can I keep my office drama free among different generations?

Yvette Walker joins the 20-40-60 Etiquette panel as guest in discussing problems between generations in an office.
by Helen Ford Wallace and Lillie-Beth Brinkman and Callie Gordon Published: April 21, 2013

QUESTION: I work in a small group full of men and women in my office. Our ages vary along with our job titles.

A couple of the younger ones have seniority over the older ones.

Unfortunately this comes with hurt feelings and lack of productivity.

How do I help women and men of all ages get along and ignore these personal insecurities?

Should I just ignore the office politics, or get my supervisor involved?

CALLIE'S ANSWER: If this is affecting your work I would suggest getting your supervisor involved.

That being said, focus on YOUR job and YOUR productivity.

That is the most important!

Good luck!

LILLIE-BETH'S ANSWER: Are you having problems with these issues yourself or are you just witnessing them?

Whether these office politics are affecting your ability to do your job or not might change your approach.

Our 20-40-60 etiquette panel addressed some of these issues during a recent discussion with the Oklahoma City chapter of the Association for Women in Communications, and we realized during this discussion that generational conflicts appear to happen frequently.

Sometimes the misunderstandings start over something that seems insignificant, like with cultural references to current or previous TV shows, actors and singers.

A younger person might not understand specific references to the popular '90s sitcom, like “Seinfeld,” while an older one might not know who rapper Wiz Khalifa is.

Using references specific to a generation can breed disconnect between groups.

The more you can bring people together to understand the strengths and value that each age group brings to the group (historical perspective of the company, fresh enthusiasm for the latest technology, for example), the better off morale in the office will be.

Enlist a supervisor to launch these discussions if you can. If the workplace conflicts are affecting your ability to do your job, then you'll have to address those specifically with the people involved.

HELEN'S ANSWER: Since there are many younger people in charge of departments of older workers in today's corporate life, it makes sense that all of these people can learn from each other.

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by Helen Ford Wallace
Society Editor
Helen Ford Wallace is a columnist covering society-related events/news for The Oklahoman. She puts local parties online with daily updates. She creates, maintains and runs a Parties blog which includes web casts. She is an online web editor for...
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by Lillie-Beth Brinkman
Lillie-Beth Brinkman is a Content Marketing Manager for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. She was previously an assistant editor of The Oklahoman
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by Callie Gordon
Freelance Writer
Callie Gordon, a graduate of the University of Oklahoma, is working at Chesapeake Energy in the Environment, Health, and Safety Department. She was previously an event coordinator for Chesapeake Energy.
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