Negotiating with the Generations (Part 1)

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People often ask me how to effectively negotiate with other generations.  I find it useful to think of each generation as having its own language, based on the political, technological and social events that occurred during the formative years of that generation.

What does that have to do with negotiations? Each generation tends to negotiate based on its generational values, using its generational language. This month, in two posts, I will provide 5 key tips for negotiating with people from other generations.

Tip #1: Use the Platinum Rule

The Platinum Rule says, “Do unto others as they would do unto themselves.” In other words, speak their language. When in France, speak French. Don’t speak Russian and assume that you’ll be successful. In order to do that, you need to know what their language is based on.

Divorce, Watergate and the boom and bust had a huge influence on Gen X. The result is that Gen X can be seen as cynical, distrustful and ‘me’ focused. In addition, Gen X tend to be pragmatic, self-sufficient, the loyal opposition and believe in a ‘work hard/play hard’ mentality.

This is almost a 180-degree turn from the Baby Boomers who, due to the cultural events that shaped them, can be seen as optimistic, cause-driven and ‘team’ focused. Gen Y, on the other hand, values balance, making a difference in the world, global diversity and connections.

Each generation tends to negotiate for what’s important to them. So use the Platinum Rule and know each generation’s language and values. This will help you make your points more successfully when negotiating.

Tip #2: Mind The Gap!

My second tip for effectively negotiating with the generations is to Mind the Gap.  There will be differences in opinion when negotiating with each generation. To bridge these gaps, have frank and open discussions. You’ll likely find schisms between technology use, preferred work hours or work dress, attitudes towards punctuality or the expectations of working after hours.

When you encounter these, be honest and straightforward.  Start by saying, “I see that you prefer to negotiate face to face daily, while I prefer to use technology as much as possible instead. What’s the best way to move forward? How about if we meet 2 times/week instead of daily, and use Google docs in between our meetings?

This honesty will disarm your colleague and open the negotiations with transparency and integrity.

Next week I’ll post my last three tips for Negotiating with the Generations. Stay tuned!

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