Recently, much ado has been made regarding unique personality/lifestyle traits of different age groups in our society. For better or worse, I am categorized as a member of Generation X. As such, I supposedly am self-sufficient, skeptical, and value work-life balance. Most of these generalities fit my personality, although I share a few characteristics (workaholic…) with the Baby Boomers as well (I’m only a couple of years shy of the cutoff). While some of the differences between generations are probably truly related to birth years, I think that personal aging is a big factor, as well.
As we age, our personalities and perspectives also change and our priorities shift, as the result of our cumulative experiences. Personally, I have become more laid-back and accepting of many things, but less forgiving of a few as well…My general values and personality traits remain the same, but my outlook is tempered by my actions and observations through the course of my life.
Bear this in mind as you deal with those younger and older than yourself. Try to relate them to people that you know. How have your parents (and your relationship with them) changed over the years? It helps me tremendously to occasionally think of my parents as senior citizens, and not parents. I try not to expect more of them than another octogenarian, but also remember that they have more accumulated wisdom than I do! The same principle applies to youths. Try to remember how you felt at that age. I must remind myself that my daughter is 15, not middle-aged, and has a different outlook based on her relative lack of life experience as well as the differing world around her in the new millenium. This applies to clients and co-workers as well—their individual attitudes are colored by their experiences.
Tolerance is a trait that today’s society seems to be sorely lacking. Perhaps we can all take a step in the right direction by trying to view the world from someone else’s perspective. Considering how we would react at that person’s stage in life, and in their environment, can help us to be better veterinary professionals, co-workers, family, and friends. And if enough people keep an open mind regarding others’ perspectives, the world might be an even better place in which to live.