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A senior, a boomer, a Gen Xer and a millennial walk into a bar …

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(This is not the hook to a joke … I promise!)

…The senior orders a glass of fine wine, the boomer a whiskey on the rocks, the Gen Xer a dirty martini and the millennial a pumpkin spice and graham porter. What do they all have in common? They are all at the same bar. However, you can tell a lot by what a person drinks.

For example, the senior probably has a lot of experience picking wines and knows which ones are great and which ones to avoid. The boomer’s choice of whiskey might be because it is still the manliest and coolest drink to have at a bar. The Gen Xer’s dirty martini might be influenced by all those amazing James Bond movies that she grew up with. And the millennial picks the locally crafted beer because that’s what all of us are drinking right now, seriously.

Yes, I might be generalizing about drink selection and these generations, because maybe you are a boomer who loves your pumpkin spice graham porter or a millennial who enjoys a fine wine; my point is: we are not really that different, no matter our age. Hey, we all seem to enjoy going to a bar and having a drink. So, when it comes to the workplace, why is there still a generational gap? Why are we having problems communicating and how can we solve them?

Recently, I read an article on Bloomberg about an event that LinkedIn started called “Bring In Your Parents Day.” And it is exactly what you think it is: You bring your parents to your workplace.

Now, I’m pretty sure you are laughing out loud at the idea of having your mom or dad, or both, “shadow” you for a full day. But, I actually did this a while back in 2007, when I was working at a newspaper. My mom was bored and she seemed interested in what I did, so I invited her along. She sometimes hung out with me at my cubicle at the newspaper or would sit towards the back at a press conference.

More than bonding with my mom, going to work with me helped her understand the hectic nature of journalism and she was able to relate to me because she experienced it first-hand. And maybe that’s one of the reasons why we are having a problem in communication. We need to put on each other’s shoes, if only for a day, shadow each other and learn from each other.

I think that we also need to ask questions about our way of working. Maybe someone has a better idea on how to be more productive or on how to reach out to prospects or how to handle difficult clients.

At the end of the Bloomberg article, the journalist’s mom says that she left the workplace admiring what her daughter does. And with admiration comes appreciation, and we all can always use a little bit of that.

See also:

How to market across the generations 

Talking ’bout my generation

Preview: How to get Gen Y to buy insurance