Bridging the Generations

May 19th, 2011 10:58am CDT by Scot Small
Prince William Chamber Handout

So – are you a…Traditionalist, Baby Boomer, GenX,
or Millennial/GenY?
Do you care? Why should you care? Just a WARNING – if you do not care, your success in our world will be very limited – after all success in large part is all about communicating and working with other people. The better you are at these two skills the more successful you will be.

And I have a NEWS FLASH – not everyone is like you! As much as you might believe that the world would be much better if everyone would only listen to you – praise the Lord you are the only you and I am the only me. It is what makes this thing we call life exciting, challenging and worth living.

The Business Growth Committee of the Prince William Chamber took on this very subject this past Tuesday. It was fantastic! Andrea Grant Wright did a fabulous job keeping a very engaged group of leaders on task – to tell the truth we could still be there –as this really got everyone’s brains a’churning. It was set up in a panel format – on the panel was a representative from each group:

Robert Ridgell represented the GenY crowd, ECS Limited
Dona Blackman – the Boomers, The Growth Coach
Taylor Briscoe- the GenX, Whitlock & Associates
Roy Beckner the Traditionalist, SW Rodgers

The main goal from what I got out of it was to answer one big question:

How can we better communicate and understand the various types of people so that we can better work together for a common goal?
The goal being specific to the business or individual.

It was a terrific conversation with many great questions asked and many insights learned by all – to try and recall it all here would not be possible – you can take a look at this summary of each of the generations in this flier that was passed out. Download

The biggest insights I learned are:

  1. I am not a Boomer but a GenX according to this information handed out.

    I was quit depressed I was not a Boomer according to the handout. All my adult life I have believe I was a Boomer – now I am consider a GenX – and I am not sure I like that. Matter of fact, I did not really relate to any one of the generations – I seem to be an even mix between all four – and I am not convinced that people have the qualities they have due to their birth date. Yes, it has influence – the environment and events of the time will have impact on you – but I think a bigger impact is how you were raised, because that determines how you deal with the environment and the events of the time. So I think it too simple to box us in due to birth date. Although it is a good starting place, we should be careful to have too many preconceived notions about how someone is or will behave. Thus leading to my next point…

  2. It is dangerous to pigeonhole people into a “class” of people based on age alone.

    There is so much that goes into who we become, and as humans we are always trying to find short cuts or formulas to try and help us get along easier in this complicated world. When we fall into this trap, and I have many times, we can get ourselves into some big trouble. We should use (and I think from the conversation at the meeting most will) this information as just one part of helping us get to the next level in understanding each other. We all want to be understood, loved, and appreciated. But if we pigeonhole someone into a certain set of values, or beliefs, then we will cut short the very communication that needs to take place in order to truly connect with someone.

  3. The key is learning about the individual.

    Connecting with each person as an individual is what matters most and understanding at a high level the various “groups” of people can be a great starting place to understand each other better. It could reduce much of the frustration that can happen between generations, if we would just take a little bit of time to truly understand then to be understood. Most of us know that we are all different and that the key to success is communication and helping others reach their goals – but at the same time, what I observe at networking events and in much of the communication and marketing companies put out is – look at me, look at what we have, we are the best, but from us – so somewhere along the way the knowledge that we all have is not being applied.

Thanks again to the Business Growth Committee for taking the time and energy to put on a fantastic event. Look forward to attending more in the future.

There you have it – what do you think? You think I am totally off base, or right on target? Let’s engage.

Some additional resources for those who want them:

Understanding Generations
Generations of Difference
Mixing and Managing Four Generations of Employess





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