I am not an expert

17May09

Even after a year of researching generational conflict, including countless articles, literally hundreds of books, and thousands of quippy comments from personal interviews, I will openly and whole-heartedly admit that I am no generational expert.

Why?  Because that would imply that a) I’m just a little bit full of myself and 2) that I can offer actionable tips on how to solve the problems of generational conflict in the workplace.  Neither of these things are true.  The one thing I can tell you that my research has taught me is this:

I refuse to tell you what you already know.

You know how to relate to other generations – you’ve been doing it all your life!  College kids: you know not to talk about your sex life in front of your grandma.  Parents: you know to use a gentle hand when learning about your kids’ technology addictions.  We’ve been doing this all our lives, and putting it in the context of a work environment is no different.

Yeah, it's kind of like that.

Yeah, it's kind of like that.

“But Kristin,” you begin to whine in your best and brightest 3-year-old-but-he-stole-my-animal-crackers voice, “why did you choose this research topic if you can’t provide any insightful, earth-shattering conclusions?”

Listen, reader: I know more about generational conflict than I do about vegan cooking and public nudity laws (which is a lot after four years in Eugene).  I can cite studies about productivity variance and work environment preferences, I’ve seen more colon-ridden book titles (Geeks and Geezers: Generational Differences in the Workplace; Generations at Work: Harnessing the Power of Your Workforce) than you can shake a workplace happiness index at, and never again do I want to see a magic 5 things list again in my life (trust me: there are way more than “5 Ways to Lose Trust in the Workplace”).

But the fact is, when it comes right down to it, we all know how to solve these problems.  Get to know your coworkers.  Don’t sterotype them, don’t gossip about them, don’t get bitchy because Paul doesn’t like using the IM client or Jamie won’t take her earbuds out at the computer.  Just do what you’ve been doing since birth and work with people for who they are, not what you think they represent.

But I’m no expert.

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2 Responses to “I am not an expert”

  1. Hmmmmm, sounds like you are trying to give an excuse for not being an expert. Perhaps if you took a lesson from the Boomers and actually focused on putting in your 10,000 hours (multi-tasking doesn’t count) then you would be an expert. : )

    But honestly, the task of the thesis is to throw yourself completely into a subject and report on what you found. Just because you didn’t find the magic key or some overlooked insight doesn’t make your work void.

    I mean its not like you are a research scientist.

  2. 2 Katie

    That picture is WONDERFUL. Like you.

    Happy almost graduation 🙂


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