Can You Speak Baby Boomer, Gen Xer, Millennial and Y?

June 20, 2017

I just read an insightful article about leadership communication that drew a number of useful conclusions about communication skill levels in the workplace, especially as they relate to choosing new hires. It hit me: how does leadership communicate equally well to teams whose members speak the diverse vernaculars developed over four generations?

Can you speak every generation's lingo?

I'm a boomer. I've stopped using the word groovy, but I frequently date myself in a hot second saying "cool." I read magazines, not posts and tweets, and I was expected to be able to -- "Larry Crowne" style -- wax poetic for four minutes on pop topics. Millenials, on the other hand, get 83% of their news from YouTube, 50% from Instagram, and after hiring someone on Upwork to do their homework, they invite someone over to "Netflix and chill" which does not mean movie watching and hanging out.

Gen Xers, from the era of gettin' jiggy with it, did their own homework but it made them want to go postal. They'd watch a bit of CNN if something big was slammin', but pretty much anything worth watching was on MTV or made into a nighttime soap.

Ys and Zs are still in development, but they're frothing for fun and hooking up, and they've resurrected "awesome" while photobombing each other and avoiding serious anything as best they can.

Okay, so you're leading a team comprised of two people from each decade of each era -- Boomers, four Xers, Millennials and Ys. You're goal? To get their opinion of a new mobile device your company developed before creating marketing materials.

Now, this is just for fun, and, of course, terminology does overlap generations, but here's each group's input:

Baby Boomers (ages 51-69, 77 Million)

"We think this device is all show and go and needs more R&D. We roll this out now and we'd better be ready to kiss up because their gonna' think we were stoned when we made it and book before we finish the presentation. Play it down, play innovation up and don't act like a ditz."

Gen Xers (ages 35-50, 65 Million)

"Let's show this machine off. That audience isn't flakey, we'll give them the 411 on the evolution plan, get them amped about its future, and get their buy in big time. make it fun, light, smart -- can you relate? Just be legit, they'll get that it's mondo!"

Millennials (ages 18-34, 83 Million)

"OMG, no drama! This thing's original, authentic... epic! Time to teach 'em text speak -- just sayin' keep it brief, be happy. It'll be awesome."

And the Generation Ys and Zs will hit the workforce while a few Boomers are still standing

"Yeah, we gotta be da bomb for the fossils. We're indie thinkers, nailed it, and all the emos are gonna' be jelly. It's a quipster's dream!"

Your turn!

I challenge you to comment on this by telling us what the opinion of the majority is in a way they'll know you heard them and can be one of them. Have fun with it!

Patricia Linn

Patricia Rae Linn is a Senior Business Development and Marketing Strategist with over 27 years in growth strategy development and implementation. As an agency owner and consultant, Pat has fulfilled Federal, State, County and Municipal government contracts, and hundreds of diversified industry client contracts in the private and not-for-profit sectors. She is known for her vision, innovation, ability to influence perception, and ease of managing complex projects fluidly.

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