By Miranda Allen
What’s the matter with kids today? Why won’t anyone listen to me? They are so lazy and have no work ethic! They are so stuck in their ways!
How often have you heard these familiar lines?
If you’re like most of us it’s often. We have a unique occurrence where seven generations are living side by side and trying to figure out how to make it work. Navigating this maize can be difficult and communication conflicts do arise. However, understanding some basic characters of each generation can greatly help you be successful in this thing we call life.
Anytime a group of people is labeled a “generation,” there is stereotyping and generalization, but the classifications prove useful in understanding shared experiences, circumstances, and culture. A generation is defined as a group of people born in the same general time span who share some life experience, such as big historical events, pastimes, heroes, and early work experiences.
So what are the 7 different generations and when were they born?
- The Greatest Generation (born 1901–1927)
- The Silent Generation (born 1928–1945)
- Baby Boomers (born 1946–1964)
- Generation X (born 1965–1980)
- Millennials (born 1981–1995)
- Generation Z (born 1996–2010)
- Generation Alpha (born 2011–2025)
Each generation has distinct attitudes, behaviors, expectations, habits and motivational buttons. Being aware of this can help us tailor our communications, regardless of the task, or the relationship — family, friends, or coworkers. Good relationships are based on understanding ourselves and others.
Generational differences need not divide us. The key to working with different generations lies in our ability to understand generational motivations and values. Being able to appreciate these differences and similarities to enhance our relationship is the key to success.
Why can’t we all get along? Why can’t we communicate with each other? Well it’s because many of us don’t know generational diversity exists. If we don’t realize we have generational difference, we don’t understand how this affects our perceptions and those of others. Take the below picture. Is it a 6 or a 9? Well it depends upon whose shoes you are in i.e. what perspective you see the number from?
With the interpersonal and communication skills development, we can learn how to collaborate effectively across generations. We become more successful by recognizing and utilizing the strengths of the different generations.
Every generation has valuable lessons that they can teach the next. Traditionalistsand Baby Boomershave an encyclopedic knowledge and hold many “tricks of the trade” that younger people can use. Generation Xcan often act as a bridge between younger and older generations serving as mediators. Gen Ycan teach everyone a thing or two about technology and how to value work-life-balance. When members of different generations are encouraged to work together, it builds understanding and trust, helping create a cohesive, yet diverse community.
Miranda Allen is CEO of Radiofrequency Safety International (RSI).