Musings on Trust, Respect, Texting and Being Nice in Communications

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Photo Credit: ajaxserix
http://www.alternateversion.com

I caught the tail end of a twitter chat hosted by Bobby Umar @raehanbobby on “GenY” and how to connect with them via #pocchat (Power of Connection Chat). He started off by saying the definition of GenY varies, but starts with people born around the 1980’s, who are savvy with the digital age; GenY are the young millennials who are young, active, and engaged online. They range from 15-35. They are the future. GenY are people who want to exceed parents, exert independence, find life balance and seek individual fulfilment; GenY is challenging the status quo of several generations before them: Gen X, Boomers, etc; GenY are also Generation We, Global Generation, the Millennial Generation, Generation Next, the Net Generation, or Echo Boomers; and GenY are an impatient bunch–hyper-connected, tech-savvy, entrepreneurial, and collaborative.

I guess I’m a still a bit shy about participating in tweet chats, partly because I am not certain of the rules and partly because I want to make sure I really understand what is going on so that my comments are relevant; and because, especially when the tweets are coming fast and furiously, I’m worried my comment will be too late, out of sync, pointless. (I used to experience this same feeling initially, when socializing in French, my second language. I guess it’s a type of performance anxiety. Or maybe I’m just tying too hard.)

But back to the chat on GenY. One of the questions asked was: “What does GenY want/need and how can we help them?” The answer: “GenY wants to be heard, supported, understood and respected regardless of our age and experience.”

I get that. I believe these are basic desires, common to everyone irrespective of age or generation.

However there is a natural correlation between respect and age/experience. And that is because respect is a result of trust and credibility. And these do not just spring into existence, they need to be earned, developed, nurtured. Over time. They are not given automatically and they cannot be demanded. Trust must be built, and as it flourishes, the result is respect.

When you tell me you want respect, what I understand you to be saying is, “Give me the chance to earn your respect.” Which is what happens with every new relationship, new job, new stage in your life-cycle. Previous action, when publicly know, testimonials, referrals and endorsements help, but none of these come without having been earned, which usually entails time and experience. While having a good reputation is a very good thing, and generally means people are willing to give you the benefit of the doubt, when you meet someone new or start a new job you still have to build trust and earn the respect of your colleagues and the organization. Same thing when you meet a new person, join a new team or club, volunteer at a new organization.

It’s tough, though not impossible, to be a good player without practicing. It’s a rare coach that will put you on the field without having seen you in action. Even with incredible athletic ability and raw talent, you only become better by working on your skills.

It’s always been the quintessential catch 22 that you can’t get hired without experience but you can’t get experience until you’ve been hired. Respect is a similar challenge except if it is demonstrated, then it is reciprocated readily. Which is why that “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” adage is so meaningful.

So if you want respect, offer me respect and make me trust you. Chances are, you’ll soon get it right back.

 Texting is not impersonal!

The other thing I learned during the chat, and this was a huge revelation for me, was that GenY feels that “Texting isn’t impersonal.”

I’m not sure why, but this was a complete surprise. I’ve been texting for years, but I only use text with my close personal friends and only for personal things. I deal with all of my professional contacts via e-mail and telephone, and would never consider texting them. First, because it never crossed my mind that texting was a viable option for business use and, secondly, because I have always preferred, whenever possible, to have direct human contact, either in person or by phone.

Even with my personal contacts there are cases where I have found texting very unsatisfactory and downright dangerous. Dangerous, as I explained in my Twitter conversation with Chanelle Schneider @WriterChanelle who was trying to educate me on this “ah-ha” tweet that set me back on my heels, because I get to interpret the message without the benefit of any audio or physical cues, which may lead to misunderstandings (and it has, oh boy!).

So having written a blog post a couple of weeks ago about communicating mindfully, I now have another element to consider in “practicing what I preach”. Mindful texting. Thanks Chanelle!

Never mind being mindful, you can actually be nice in your communications.

For anyone who had not yet seen this in the news, the cover of author Patrick Wensink’s book Broken Piano for President bears a striking resemblance to the label of the Jack Daniels bottle. The distillery noticed this and send Mr. Wensink a letter that is a model for business correspondence: it is polite in tone; reasonable in the what and how of its purpose; and, demonstrates good manners. It’s actually nice. Kudos to Christy Susman, Senior Attorney – Trademarks and the letter’s signatory.

Yes, you guessed it, my question is: Why can’t all communication be like this?

 

 

 

 

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It’s Not About Age. It’s About Talent and Related Value. Or It Should Be.

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Photo Credit – schmitee

I read an article by Brad McCarthy on The Next Web that struck a chord with me.  It was titled “Why does technology celebrate ageism?”

In it, Mr. McCarthy makes a point about technology choosing to highlight the achievement of the under 30 age group, while ignoring the accomplishments of those older than 30.

There are several “associations”  both official and unofficial that exclusively serve the younger age groups – for example, the Top 40 Under 40, the Young President’s Club (YPO), the annual “Millionaires Under 40” list, and I’m sure there are more of which I am not aware.  I’ve always been curious about these “clubs” and wondered what happened when the members “aged out” (what a delightful term) or turned 40.  I speculate that C-suite level professionals have established networks that dispense with the need for special age-related support groups.  Either that or they prefer not to be associated with a group labeled as “over 40”.  Because isn’t over 40 “over the hill”?

The inherent message in this oversight is both dangerous and misleading.  It denigrates the over 30’s, or over 40’s, with accomplishments while setting expectations for the under “whatever” age group that if they don’t make the grade by that age, they are “washed up”.

To quote Mr. McCarthy, “Or maybe having a list that talks about age is disingenuous no matter what group it points out. Maybe age, like class, color and all else, should disappear when we’re talking about people who do great things. If technology truly wants to be a meritocracy then shouldn’t all factors other than the work that has been done go to the wayside?”

Yes!  Eureka, yes that’s it – but not just relative to technology, and not only to “people who do great things”, but relative to society as a whole and to human beings generally.

Everybody starts out by being the youngest (on the team, in their class, at the office) , at one point in life, and then, ends up being the oldest at a later point.  It’s just the way the world works.

The variable to concentrate on should not be age, race or gender, but talent, skill, intelligence, leadership, creativity, ability.  Some of these are enhanced by experience and some just exist, inherently.

Compensation, including accolades, should correspond to the level of the various skills/abilities/characteristics demonstrated by the individual.  Yes, there is often a correlation between experience and the acquisition or development of skills and talents. –  like in music, even the talent of raw genius can be improved by diligent practice.

I’ve worked with employees who were convinced they deserved the promotion to the next level over their peers based solely on being the most senior in the group.  “I should get Director, I’m next in line.”  But it just doesn’t work that way.  You may have put in the time, and you may have the qualifications, but what moves you ahead is possessing the qualities necessary to fulfill the next role.  Age doesn’t have as much bearing on that as maturity does.

I’ve been fortunate to learn both from my young colleagues and from my senior workmates.  Now, I am probably counted among the “elder statesmen” of my industry, myself.  Yikes!

Whereas many of my contemporaries share similar thought processes, based probably on comparable experience and references, my younger colleagues have a whole different perspective. And yes, their familiarity and more frequent use of technology and social media are definitely some of the talents I can benefit from.  Going forward I am learning more from the colleagues who are younger than me, than those who are older, leading me to wonder just when the pendulum swung this way, because I don’t remember.

The point is, though, that I really don’t care when it happened.  I am learning.  Developing. Growing.  Enjoying it.

And increasing my value.  No matter my age.