Mutual Respect across the Generations

If you ask a group of educators, parents and business managers it they want to be respected by young people, what do you think they would say?


All of them would say ‘yes’.


If you ask a group of young people if they want to be respected by adults, what do you think they would say?


All of them would say ‘yes’.


If we all want to feel and be respected, then why is that adults today are often saying young people lack respect? Is it they don’t respect others? Or perhaps it is the meanings we each have respect ?


By looking at a quick overview of how the generations think, we can get an insight into the different meaning we have of respect and begin to understand how to both gain respect and show respect.








Meanings of respect

Tend to respect authority , to do as you are told without question. Everyone has a role and no-one steps out of that role.

Tend to respects facts, figures and research.

They respect hard work and effort to get where you are going.  They feel respected when they can share their information as this info is needed to do the job properly.


Highly responsible – fix-it generation.  They develop the “how to get it done”

They feel respected when they are given the freedom to “just get the job done.”

Respects peers and people who are REAL.  They respond to people who take the time to listen to them, and their needs. The feel respected when their needs are met for fun, social interactions based on experience.



Respect means


“Im in charge”


“Sit and listen”


“Follow the process”


“Let me just do it”


When looking at the different meanings of respect it is easy to see how one generation feels disrespected by the other. For example, we may have boomer managers/teachers telling Gen Y to sit and listen because they have important information to give and we have Gen Y saying i don’t want to listen i just want to experience it myself. As a result, what we have on our hands is a power struggle with no winner.

If we want to build positive relationships with young people that builds mutual respect we need to understand people’s different meanings of respect.


Ask the young people you work with or teach for their meaning of respect. Ask them what has to happen in order for them to feel respected and then tell them what has to happen for you to feel respected. By having this basic conversation you are opening up the lines for building an open, trusting relationship where both parties feel heard and mutual respect is begining to grow.

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