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  • benjaminnewman01

Mod. 11 - Diagnosing Your Immunity to Change

Updated: Jun 30, 2023


1. Improvement Goal

Relating better with older people.

1a. What I’d need to do differently:

Actively spend time with older people more frequently.

Listen, be present, and genuinely consider what they are saying.

Change my underlying assumption that I am smarter or more informed than they are.

2. Behaviors That Go Against My Goal

I seek out people who are closer to my age or I already know.

I try to avoid situations where I will have to confront how uncomfortable I am around older people.

3. Hidden Competing Commitments

3a. Worry Box:

I worry I will accidentally offend people.

3b. Hidden Competing Commitments

If I offend an older person, they may not see me as trustworthy.

If they are offended by me, they will be less likely to support me and/or my work.

4. Big Assumptions

Older people’s values and sensibilities are more conservative than my own.

I will be ignored, judged, and shunned by others who value the opinions, sensibilities, and values of older people.



When I…

Avoid talking to older people

… I really want to…

Avoid the possibility of offending them

… because I am committed to…

Not offending people.

In reality I…

Avoid situations where I will encounter and have to interact with older people.

… instead. That shows that I am also committed to…

Being perceived as trustworthy and not putting my foot in my mouth by saying something inappropriate.

But when I imagine…

Spending more time with older people

… I feel…


… because I assume that…

They won’t understand me.

I commit to running an experiment to test this assumption.



Working in the performing arts, it is inevitable and necessary that I have the approval and support of those who are older than me. The current culture of isolation, combined with a confusing and discouraging media and political climate, in addition to very large generational differences socially, relationally, and technologically, makes navigating interactions with older people very difficult for me. I worry that I will accidentally offend someone, particularly in a professional setting, and that I will negatively compromise the relationship that person(s) has with the institution.

In reflecting on how I might begin to test this assumption, I am going to try an approach of honesty and vulnerability in lower risk situations. When introduced or interacting with older people, I am going to be myself but aim to be self-aware in the moment to know how to filter myself appropriately as well as share my difficulty/worry in a relatable way that circumnavigates the issue. If/when the opportunity presents itself, I want to try saying something like “May I share something? I sometimes struggle relating to people of different generations. I worry that I might accidentally say something offensive, which is never my intention. Have you experienced that?”

I’ve often found that sharing about my own experience can cause people to let their walls down, but I also know that some people view this type of sharing as “overly personal” or inappropriate for the setting and may inadvertently do the very thing I’m trying to avoid so I am going to have to be careful with how I approach each of these situations.

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