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Desert Highway
Thoughtful writing authored and shared by members of of the Thinking Collaborative community to support others on the journey.

Sustaining the Journey

Some Implications of Generational Needs on Collaboration

Authored By:

Thinking Collaborative


June 16, 2014

The word “collaboration,” comes from the root word, “co-labor.” Anyone who has tried to create and live in a collaborative culture knows it is hard work requiring deep listening, empathy, stepping up and stepping back, and being willing to support the greater good.

We are finalizing our consideration of generations as a filter of perception by exploring what Abrams and Frank suggest about the type of conversations which best connect by generation in collaborative teams.

Verbal language is one of the ways we work as collaborators. Abrams and Frank offer some tips on what each of the four generations might prefer.


Clear and concise language that is nonconfrontational

Lack of open challenge or disagreement and respect for hierarchy

Accurate use of grammar

Respect for years of experience

Focus on greater goal


Speak from values

Make personal connections and affirms experiences

Respect protocols and policies

Don’t speak too directly or stand out from the group

Gen Xers

Accept that blunt statements are not personal

Avoid small talk and get down to the task at hand

Clear focused communication that answers, “Why?”

Openness and honesty


Appreciate use of technology to collaborate

Request for feedback are honored


May not be a slave to process

Offer just in time learning and support

Consider these preferences as you analyze a team with whom you collaborate. As you learn about generational preferences, what insight does this offer to your team dynamics? How might you be more flexible as a collaborator across generations? When might you need to be more conscious of self and others? How are you showing empathy and appreciation for differences?

Source: The Multigenerational Workplace by Jennifer Abrams and Valerie von Frank

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