Your world view and your work relationships

On the subject of how your age and generation affects your world view, and consequently your relationships in and out of work, here’s a great guest blog from David Shindler, who writes and consults on employability:

How do you react when someone says to you ‘you should do X or Y’, ‘you ought to…’ or ‘you must…’? For me, they suddenly transmogrify into The Exhortator, like a Schwarzenegger movie character, and I start raging against the machine.

An exhortation is my red flag or hot button. It sets off the inner voice which automatically suggests I should NOT do what The Exhortator bids me or, occasionally, it encourages me to do the opposite.

What are your red flags? What pushes your hot buttons?

It’s different for each of us. How our characters get shaped during our formative years and upbringing, including the role of significant people in our lives, and our core personalities will all impact on what is important to us and how we view the world. I had a dominant father!

How do you deal with people from other generations who don’t share your worldview and push your hot buttons? A particular challenge if they are your boss or you manage them!

Here are 4 ways of moving towards them and dealing with misunderstandings:

1. Reflect on what has formed your world view as you grew up. Here are some questions to help:

  • What were the major events in the world around you? (e.g. War on Terror or Cold War?)
  • Who were the leaders you most remember (e.g. Churchill or Mandela or Obama), and who were your heroes (e.g. Harry Potter or Clint Eastwood?)
  • How easy/hard was it for you to get your first real job, how much competition was there, and what was the expectation of your parents?
  • What technology existed to entertain you and help you communicate and interact with others? Do you prefer to communicate face-to-face or online?
  • Describe the popular culture of the time (films, music, art, gaming etc).
  • If that’s the cultural mirror, what themes or trends were you stepping into? What tape or download is in your head playing unconsciously? For example I still meet Baby Boomer bosses who see Social Media as a ‘time waster’.

2. Get to know what has formed the world view of other generations by sharing and discussing the type of issues above. Find out what you can learn from them.

3. If you want to identify your hot buttons, try answering these questions about yourself:

  • What would someone who knows me very well say of me?
  • Think of a time when someone said something or expressed a view that instantly aroused strong passion in you, emotions like anger or you got upset. What did they say? What was it that got me annoyed? What effect did it have on me? How did I respond?

4. If your red flag is fluttering, ask a question rather than make a statement to avoid being judgemental and give you time to regain your composure.

You will gain an advantage in sustaining great relationships at work through understanding how you and other people are likely to react in a given situation, as well as insight into your own generation’s worldview and those of other generations in the workplace.

Do you agree or disagree? Have you met The Exhortator? What’s your experience?

Many thanks to David for his contribution to the debate. You can read his articles here.