Have you ever watched Grace and Frankie on Netflix? Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin play women in their mid-seventies who become unlikely friends and in the process, redefine what it looks like to be in your later years.
In one episode, Grace and Frankie are starting a new business and going to the bank to try to get a 10-year loan of $75,000. The bank manager gives them pushback through all their attempts at negotiating with him, obviously judging them by their age. He finally lands on a one-year offer (as he’s afraid they won’t last longer than that to pay the bank back).
They refuse the offer, and Grace and Frankie’s new business goes on to be wildly successful.
This is just one example of how judging people by their age or generation can block human connection, opportunities, and the valuable lessons we can learn from one another.
There’s a lot of discussion happening currently (and rightly so) about diversity, equity and inclusiveness for people of all identities. Within that conversation, it’s important to include looking at conscious or unconscious assumptions made about people based on their age or generation – and how this negatively impacts all of us in the process.
It’s easy to make assumptions about what people are like, based on if they’re 20, 35, 50, 75, or anywhere in between.
But instead of making assumptions about what people in other generations are like or assuming that our differences are too big to find common ground, we can be open to all we can learn from one another.
Personally, my life and career are enriched through my connections with people of all ages. My daughter is a Gen Z, and many of my employees are also Gen Z. I’m constantly learning from the Gen Z’ers in my life, who each bring a socially conscious mindset, a deep commitment to learning, growth, and a desire to change our world for the better.
Likewise, I have friends and business connections 30+ years older than me, who each bring something unique to my life. We find ways our interests meet, like in human connection, sharing a meal together, teasing one another or supporting each other.
This goes beyond age as well. It could be connecting with other people that don’t look like you in other ways or who don’t have the same first language.
At the end of the day, we can grow by watching out for the assumptions we make about people different from us in any way and instead pausing for a moment, getting curious, being patient, listening, and engaging.
I’m curious to hear your thoughts on this topic. Leave a comment below to share!
‘Til next time,