Mental Notes with Hilary Valdez: Workforce Harmony

Mental Notes with Hilary Valdez: Workforce Harmony

by Hilary Valdez
Stripes Okinawa

Globalization and technology have affected work practices. As technology helps societies become smaller through advanced communication, the work environment is now where people of all races, religions and belief systems connect and collaborate. With changing technology, generational gaps have widened between older and younger generations.

People are living longer and staying in the workforce longer. Today, traditionalists, baby boomers, millenials, generation X, and generation Z are coexisting in the workforce. In a global organization, diversity is accepting differences that include age, class, ethnicity, gender, physical and mental ability, race, sexual orientation, and spiritual practice.

Companies are finding that productivity and work culture harmony are being negatively impacted by poorly handled generational issues. The workforce goal is to create an environment where multiple generations can work and communicate side-by-side, with co-workers and customers.

Problem Solving
How do you weave generational respect into your office environment? How do you balance the paradoxes of everyday life? How do you resolve conflicts? What are you doing to hire and retain employees from each generation? What does each generation bring to the table? How is each generation being understood or stereotyped? Do young people only think of themselves? Are old people forgetful? Do you avoid a superior-subordinate style of speaking? Do staff speak clearly and honestly with each other?

Every generation develops new slang. Slang changes continually and establishes or reinforces social identity and cohesiveness within a group. Anyone remember Pig Latin or shorthand? In some cases, first generation families speak only their native tongue. Second generation speaks native tongue and English. Third generation speak English, and can’t communicate with grandparents. As for me, I’m bilingual: I speak English and bad English.

We are all on the path of life. Every soul has its own way of life. Be aware of your own attitudinal shifts when speaking with people different from you. People have a sense of inner justice and fairness. Criticism, indifference, and pessimism close communication. The meaning we attribute to that moment in communication determines our behavior. Most of the time, people will do what is asked of them, providing they know what is expected of them. What would make you happy at work? What would you improve in the workplace?

Managers and leaders are often in charge of the professional development of their employees. Do staff understand the concept of the internal customer? What is their point of view toward work? Creating or maintaining a negative, attitude, or intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment, harm working relationships, damage morale and work productivity. Managing diversity and age gaps, involve valuing differences. Do you combat discrimination and promote inclusiveness? In a globally inclusive workforce, it is the responsibility of leadership to manage the environment, creating a safe place to work, and embracing diversity.

Talking tips
Talking with people different from you becomes easier when you learn to recognize personality types. Then you can develop a strategy for communicating. The key point is to wait-think-respond. Keep your emotions out of the way. During your conversation look at the person and observe their behavior. Does the person feel tense or uncomfortable? Do they act impatient or nervous? Are they drifting away from your conversation? If the other person is drifting away maybe it’s because of your speaking style.

Don’t ask a person, “Why?”  This can make people defensive and think they have to justify their behavior to you. Ask the person what-questions. What-questions solicit facts, for example: What happened? Then, what happened? What else happened? What caused that?  What did you do? What do you want to change? What is your reaction? What’s next? What’s your idea?

When you disagree, disagree in a confrontive-supportive manner, not a confrontive-destructive manner. Be careful with demands. Emotionally depleted people give anger and resentment, not understanding and cooperation. Avoid being in an emotional straight jacket. Strive for reason, resolution and truth. Be cheerful when speaking to people. Call people by their name-don’t call them names. Have humility. Be friendly. Praise people. Be careful with criticism. Help others. Show compassion and sensitivity. Being expressive and communicating your thoughts and feelings, is the healthy thing to do.

Instant Insight: Talk to express…not impress.


Hilary Valdez is a retiree living in Japan. He is an experienced Mental Health professional and Resiliency Trainer. Valdez is a former Marine and has worked with the military most of his career and most recently worked at Camp Zama as a Master Resiliency Trainer. Valdez now has a private practice and publishes books on social and psychological issues. His books are available on Amazon and for Kindle. Learn more about Valdez and contact him at or at

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