Phyllis weiss haserot
Phyllis weiss haserot

President & Founder

212 593-1549


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5 Inter-Generational Stress-Busters

Unresolved inter-generational tensions can cause stress that decreases engagement, productivity and ultimately, profitability. The symptoms are likely to strike workers at all levels and management – up to the top. This e-tip lists 5 common symptoms and then gives 5 approaches to avoiding the potential stress.

Common Symptoms

You may experience or observe obviously negative behaviors such as:

  • The dodge – avoidance tactic: as a manager mostly interacting with or giving responsibility to people similar to you. 
  • Making excuses for people not being as productive as they should be in order to avoid having to correct them; fear of being accused of discrimination.
  • Showing impatience with people who act differently; feeling intolerant or superior to compensate for your discomfort.
  • Feeling uncomfortable with your discomfort, blaming others for the discomfort or beating up on yourself, hoping everyone would just be the same.
  • Sounding awkward and second-guessing yourself as a leader.

These symptoms often appear as stress from dealing with other types of diversity as well.

There are simple non-medicinal solutions, simple but requiring intention, patience and accountability to yourself, your team or a coach.

Actions to Alleviate or Prevent the Stress and Resolve the Discomfort:

  • Recognize each person as an individual, not a representative of a group, and develop individual relationships.
  • Avoid stereotyping and learn about the background and interests of individuals. You may find you have commonalities that had not been obviously apparent. Listen and observe.
  • Learn the art of asking good questions in a non-threatening and non-judgmental way. Then listen. You will be enlightened and grow more comfortable with differences even if your opinions and attitudes differ.
  • As a manager, assign projects for people of different generations giving them the opportunity to work together and teach each other without a strict age-related hierarchy. Be sure that the projects and interactions are perceived as meaningful, not just an exercise they are going through. Allow relationships to develop and for people to sort out roles.
  • Learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Stretch your comfort zone. (This may be difficult for Gen Y/Millennials who tend to be uncomfortable with ambiguity, but it gets easier with risking discomfort.) Monitor team accomplishments in which age diversity is encouraged and respected.

Which of these diversity stress symptoms have you or your colleagues experienced? How are they currently being dealt with – or are they being ignored or denied? What have been successful techniques for getting beyond the discomfort and benefiting from differences?

 Send your responses to me at to post or go directly to comment on the Cross-Generational Conversation group on LinkedIN.


© Phyllis Weiss Haserot, 2013. All rights reserved.

* The generational chronology for easy reference: Generations are defined by the similar formative influences – social, cultural, political, economic – that existed as the individuals of particular birth cohorts were growing up. Given that premise, the age breakdowns for each of the four generations currently in the workplace are approximately:

Traditionalists:                                born 1925-1942   

Baby Boomers                                 born 1943-1962

Generation X                                   born 1963-1978

Generation Y/Millennials                 born 1979-1998   

Learn about our *Generational Wisdom for Mentors and Mentees* programs as well as multi-generational team facilitation. Call 212-593-1549 or e-mail

For coaching, training and special programs on inter-generational challenges for and among 4 generations in the workplace and maximizing the potential of young professionals, call or email Phyllis for an exploratory talk or complimentary coaching session at 212-593-1549 or .

Phyllis is available to speak at your organization or at firm retreats on inter-generational relations and organizational effectiveness topics. Call or e-mail for a list of topics or to custom-tailor your own.