The Age Gap in Negotiations: How to Use Generational Differences to Your Advantage

Generational differences can play a significant role in negotiations. Individuals from different age groups bring different perspectives, ideas, values, and communication styles. When it comes to negotiating, it is important to be aware of these differences and how they can be used to leverage your position and adapt your strategy. Here we will look at some of the common characteristics of different generations and how you can navigate them during negotiations in order to achieve the best possible outcome. 

1. Understand the Generational Spectrum

The first step in navigating generational differences is to understand how the age gap influences people’s values, expectations, and behaviors. There are four generations in the current workforce which include: the Baby Boomers (born between 1946-1964), Generation X (born between 1965-1980) the Millennials (born between 1981-1996) and Generation Z (born between 1995-2009). Each generation has its own unique cultural and social perspectives based on life experiences. These generational differences have helped shape their worldview and will impact their approach to work in various ways. 

2. Respect Generational Differences

Each generation has its own unique characteristics which can impact the way they approach negotiations. They each have their own preferences, values, priorities, expectations, and communication styles. Though these differences may be perceived as either strengths or weaknesses by individuals from a different generation, no generation is better or worse than another. They simply have different perspectives based on their personal life experiences. For example, Baby Boomers may value loyalty, stability, and authority while Millennials value innovation, flexibility, and autonomy. By recognizing these differences, you can adapt your negotiation strategy and communication style to better resonate with individuals from different generations. 

3. Adapt Your Communication Style

Communication is the foundation of a successful negotiation and each generation has its own preferences regarding communication styles. Baby Boomers may prefer face-to-face meetings and more formal communication while Millennials and Gen Z may be more responsive to digital communication channels. You can build trust and rapport with your counterpart by choosing a communication style that most appropriately fits their needs. 

4. Find Common Ground

Despite generational differences, it is important to look for shared interests among all involved parties. Focusing on common goals and values can help create a sense of unity and put you on a path toward a win-win solution. Establishing shared values and goals can also help bridge the generational gap and foster a more positive and productive relationship. 

5. Leverage Diversity

Instead of seeing your differences as obstacles or challenges, you can view them as opportunities and strengths. When you combine different perspectives, experiences, and skills, you are able to create more innovative solutions that can benefit both parties.