Posted: 7/26/19 at 2:00pm. Column by Ed Jordan.
When people speak of a place giving off a good vibe, what do they mean?
According the internet’s Free Dictionary: “A vibe is a distinctive emotional quality or atmosphere that is sensed or experience by someone.”
If something gave us a good vibe, it means that something associated with an encounter resonated with us and made us feel somehow connected with the mood, event, or environment. If we don’t pick up good vibes, then we will have a bland reaction, or worse—a negative one. I must clarify that the whole discussion of “vibes” is a very subjective thing, and it’s hard to identify.
Many organizations, and indeed even community planning departments and chambers of commerce, are exploring ways to become places that resonate good vibes to younger generations, since all ages are needed in a healthy community.
There are so many variables regarding this subject to address in a column like this, but I would like to address a couple of timeless principles to help older generations communicate value and camaraderie with younger generations and to help younger generations convey value and appreciation to those older than themselves. For at the heart of good vibes is a sense of mutual respect.
This is not a new theme, nor something that has just materialized in the 21st century. The Apostle Paul, writing in the 1st century to a young coworker named Timothy, gave Timothy advice on how he as a younger person could gain respect from the older people with whom he networked and also how the older generations should relate to this young man. In 1 Timothy 4:12 (CSB), Paul advises: “Don’t let anyone despise your youth, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.”
The first phrase is directed to both Timothy, who was a young man, and to those older than him. Paul is telling Timothy to value this time in his life and not to let anyone despise his youthfulness. Older people need to realize that young people bring strengths to the workplace, family, church, or community. It is not the role of any of us to disdain someone and negate their worth merely because they are young or old.
Those who are older need to continue learning, including learning from the young people. The younger generations don’t know a lot of what we learned firsthand, through painful experiences. But they know a lot about other things, like the world of technology, for instance. We can embrace their knowledge and learn from it. Listen, ask collaborative questions, and value their input. Mutual respect is the bottom line in building cross-generational relationships.
Next Paul gave Timothy some concrete areas to concentrate on so he would be well received by others. I believe that this advice is for the young, the middle-aged, and senior adults as well. It is for each of us.
First, we are all to be an example, and to set an example. To be an example, our core values must be genuine and build value in others.
Show honor and respect in what you say and in how you say it. Respect is conveyed through our words, in how we listen, and in our conduct. Be a person who treats others with value, honor, and worth—building up instead of tearing down.
Treat others with love and kindness (use 1 Corinthians 13:4-13 as your definition of love). Put their needs above your own. When you must confront them, do it for the right reason and in the right way. Build trust in the other person by entrusting them with something they are capable of accomplishing, and let them do it. Praise them for their contribution, and give them more responsibility. We all fall down, especially on our first attempts, but we all need someone to pick us up, encourage us, and put us back on the bike. Encouragement can be powerful!
Be an example of purity. We often think of the word purity as sinless, and that is good advice. While none of us really are sinless, we should strive to be consistent and pure in our relationships. Generally, if something is pure, it is unmixed. Bad vibes come when we are sending off mixed signals. Good vibes come when our conduct towards another corresponds with our words, values, and actions. Consistency is a good trait to develop and model in the workplace and at home.
Good vibes resonate when vibes harmonize. Sound waves that are out of sync or dissonant make us feel ill at ease, and we feel a bad vibe, even if we can’t tell exactly why we feel the dis-ease. Let’s all work at being good examples in honoring and valuing one another, and the good vibes will follow!