Insights for the generations on communication

By Phyllis Weiss Haserot 

"What we talk about when we talk about communication" was the title of the 2011 Annual Symposium of the Bernard Schwartz Communication Institute of Baruch College/CUNY held on May 6th. I am fortunate to be among the invitees who were treated to a full day of keynotes, small group discussions and informal talk at meals.

From my session notes and side conversations, I've outlined some insights for the generations on communication as we observe and evaluate style, media, what employers look for and what comes next.

 We need to learn to live with generational change.  For example, IBM complained that kids didn't care that they work for IBM, unlike the IBM culture pride of previous generations. Now Facebook and social media provide for Gen Y the cultural glue institutions used to for Boomers and earlier generations.

 What employers want from students and new employees:

  • Get to your point succinctly. (140-character limit is helpful)
  • Write 5 line memos; use only 10 PowerPoint slides at a time
  • Know your audience; be able to read your audience; address audiences in way they can relate to
  • Be ready to learn; appreciate learning
  • Enthusiasm
  • Teamwork
  • Information literacy: not only be information consumers but also information producers and evaluators
  • Listening skills, asking questions
  • Curiosity
  • Initiative
  • Critical thinking
  • Knowing and articulating the value-added that they as individuals bring
  • Knowing how to build relationships (networking, etc.)

 Teach storytelling through pictures - Visualization is where things are going, and the visual works more effectively for global

Generational Definitions

Here are some quick definitions. Generations are defined by the similar formative influences – social, cultural, political, economic – that existed as the individuals of particular birth cohorts were growing up. Given that premise, the age breakdowns for each of the four generations currently in the workplace are approximately:

Traditionalists born 1925-1942

Baby Boomers born 1943-1962

Generation X born 1963-1978

Generation Y/Millennials born 1979-1998 (under age 30 today)

communication. Gen Y and younger Gen Xers may do best at this for both marketing and service delivery since visual communication has been prevalent in their culture throughout their lives.

 How does an individual resolve the tension between being in a meeting and focusing vs. having to respond to an e-mail? Beyond the gadget addiction, there can be an expectation of urgency. While often perceived to be, this is not just the younger generations' problem. Professionalism standards and multi-generational mentoring circles could help clarify the lines among rudeness, disengaged behavior and required urgent responses.

 Determine what media and formats are best for reaching your goal. All generations need to learn discretion among media's most effective uses situationally.

 Neuroscience has shown that the younger generations are losing the ability to read non-verbal cues. They don't recognize the importance of non-verbal cues in communicating fully and accurately.

 An undergrad said: We need fewer lectures and PowerPoint and more conversation in teaching. Consider this in continuing education design for employees.

 Laura Fitton, co-author of "Twitter for Dummies," said, "Twitter is about overcoming human isolation. "  On twitter the message has become the influence; provide value to others.

 Watch journalists' streams on Twitter for great value and understand what's of interest to the public or your marketplace.

 Even students get overwhelmed by social media and new media.

 We need to understand where cultural change is heading - and then get out of the way.

So some questions we are left with are:

  • Given generational differences in style, do we and how do we, bridge the gaps?  Do we get more Boomers to be more concise and adopt more Twitter conventions? Teach Gen Xers and Yers to be more critical thinkers? Teach Gen Yers not to ramble and to use proper grammar and punctuation? Do those elements still matter as much as Boomers and Traditionalists think they do?
  • How much evaluation of communication style is productive?
  • How do we prevent loss of the value of non-verbal cues?
  • How can we shift the egocentric "me" focus of any generation (they all have been accused of it at some time) to appreciating the value of knowing and reading your audience?

Please send your thoughts on these observations to me at pwhaserot@pdcounsel.com or post your comment below this article. Does this make you question or think about observed practices and behaviors differently?

©  Phyllis Weiss Haserot, 2011.
 

 

 

Phyllis Weiss Haserot, The Cross-Generational Voice, is the president of Practice Development Counsel, a business development and organizational effectiveness consulting and coaching firm she founded over 20 years, A special focus is on the profitability of improving inter-generational relations and transitioning planning for baby boomer senior partners/executives (www.nextgeneration-nextdestination.com ).. Phyllis is the author of The Rainmaking Machine” and “The Marketer’s Handbook of Tips & Checklists” (both West 2010). pwhaserot@pdcounsel.com. URL: www.pdcounsel.com

 

You may like these other stories...

For the first time in the five-year history of Vault.com’s rankings of the top 50 accounting firms to work for in North America, a firm has held the top spot as best accounting employer for two consecutive years....
With tomorrow being Tax Day, you might see some procrastinators at your office filling out forms, printing out paperwork, or getting last-minute tax advice from their accountant so they can meet the IRS’s filing...
You can read volumes on how to manage an accounting practice. But if you want the quick version, just read the following four points. Everything else is just commentary.  (These points come out of the 1997 book, The...

Upcoming CPE Webinars

Apr 22
Is everyone at your organization meeting your client service expectations? Let client service expert, Kristen Rampe, CPA help you establish a reputation of top-tier service in every facet of your firm during this one hour webinar.
Apr 24
In this session Excel expert David Ringstrom, CPA introduces you to a powerful but underutilized macro feature in Excel.
Apr 25
This material focuses on the principles of accounting for non-profit organizations' revenues. It will include discussions of revenue recognition for cash and non-cash contributions as well as other revenues commonly received by non-profit organizations.
Apr 30
During the second session of a four-part series on Individual Leadership, the focus will be on time management- a critical success factor for effective leadership. Each person has 24 hours of time to spend each day; the key is making wise investments and knowing what investments yield the greatest return.