Never Stop Loving Rock N Roll
Last month a group of community members gathered during our Community Conversations to talk about “working across generations” and we shared how it seems we can’t go more than a few days without seeing “OK Boomer” memes or reading comments about how Millennials don’t have a work ethic? Even though this happens somewhat frequently, these examples are extreme versions of the types of stereotypes people have about different age groups.
But what about less innocuous generational beliefs we may have? I’ll give you an example from my own life.
The other day, I was out walking on a hiking and biking trail. I was just starting to relax into the walk when I heard a bicycle coming up behind me - but it wasn’t just the sound of the bike. The bike had one of those speakers that plays music for everyone on the trail to hear. I’m a visual person, so I created an image of the bicycle and the person riding it in my head, then hurried over to give the bike space to pass. As it got nearer, I turned to take a look at who I assumed would be a young person and then did a double take! I had imagined a person in their early 20s on the bike blaring their music amongst the beautiful sounds of nature, but instead, I was looking at a white-haired man in his 70s.
As he sped past me, I wondered about the image I had formulated. Why did my mind go straight to a picture of a younger person?
The answer is simple--I’ve been hiking for a long time, and usually, when I hear loud music coming from a bicycle, it is a younger person. But of course, that doesn’t mean other people can’t enjoy playing their music out loud. This man seemed like he was having a great time riding, and the music probably helped motivate him to do his best.
I started thinking about the workplace, where we spend a ton of our time. It’s impossible not to bring our preconceived notions with us, and usually our ideas don’t seem harmful at all, however there are times they can impact others. When is the last time we stopped to evaluate our thoughts and actually talk to the people around us about who they are, what are their values, what gives them purpose, what are their skill sets, etc.?
As I prepare to present at a conference on the topic, Becoming Passionately Curious About People, I too need to continue to challenge myself to stay curious about others and to not place judgement and assumption, based solely on my thoughts/experiences. Until next time my friends!