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March 29, 2019

Communicating with Different Generations

How each generation prefers to communicate is one of the major areas of conflict in the workplace. How well you communicate among generations and how well you teach generations to communicate with each other are major factors in creating effective, productive cross-generational teams. The key to success is knowing the communication preferences for each generation and using a variety of media to reach your entire team. Here are some quick tips you can use to improve communication with different generations.

Traditionals (1922-1943/46)

  • Use high touch, not high tech.Many Traditionals are uncomfortable with high-tech communication media and distrust messages delivered this way. They prefer to communicate in person—one-on-one, at meetings where everyone is present in a room.

Baby Boomers (1943-1964)

  • Keep communication two-way. Communication is a shared activity and can come from anyone, anywhere. From face-to-face meetings to coffee shops, Boomers like to interact, express their opinions, and share their expertise.

Gen X (1964-1980)

  • Send it via email and text.Gen Xs prefer email and instant messaging to in-person meetings, which are a “waste of time.” As long as the result is achieved, why meet?

Gen Y (1980-1995)

  • High tech, not high touch. Keep communication short, fast, and informal.Instant messaging, texting, email, social media are all preferred communication media. Why talk when you can type?

Gen Z (1995-2010)

  • High tech, social media.  They absorb information quickly.  They want all types of feedback – positive and negative – as along as it gives them what they need to improve and move forward.

Understanding each generation’s attitudes about communication can help lessen differences and prevent misunderstandings. Think about the people you work with and your customers from each of these generations and decide how you can communicate with them more effectively.

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