Speaking the Language #FuseFriday

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Surely our capability to communicate with one another is derived by speaking the same language.  We may be speaking the same language, but always keep in mind that-- when conversing inter-generationally--something might mean something completely different to someone of a different age group. 

Communication is so crucial in fact, that FUSE dedicates an entire chapter to “Speaking the Language,” explaining why understanding and conversing with each other is way up there on the priority list. 

Okay.  Take a moment to close your eyes and think about the emails that you receive from your Boomer co-workers or manager.  There is structure, like a formal letter.  You’d never find slang idioms or OMGs or other abbreviated nonsense.  Now, picture the emails you receive from your Millennial (or younger) co-workers.  They’re relaxed.  There is hardly a structure to them at all--most of the time.  They write an email as if it were a TXT MSG 2 their FRNDS.  Now, obviously not all Millennials write like this.  But chances are, the differences in email composition is one of the big disconnects between Boomers and Millennials, and a clear communication difference that is one of the “major sources of frustration”[1] in the workplace. 

It may be difficult to admit, but “we are now employing the first post-literate generation.”  Despite this shocking fact, the next working generation is on its way and there’s nothing we can do about it.  This leaves us with one option; “both generations need to understand the other’s style, content, and context of communication.”[2]         

So, how does one learn the language of Millennials anyway? 

First, we must grasp the uncanny fact that Millennials are actually the most educated generation in history.  But although “they are far from illiterate, their grammar and spelling may leave many in doubt”[3] of that statistic. 

For Millennials, all information is equal.  Somehow, Wikipedia is more widely accessed than Encyclopedia Britannica.  Yes, it’s slightly embarrassing.  But hey, this day in age is different than it was twenty years ago.  According to most Millennials, speed is more important than accuracy, and emoticons and shorthand writing (LOL, “Laugh out Loud,” BTW, “by the way”) are the norm.  And who has time to actually listen to voicemails when you can just hit redial.  Laziness at its finest.  But they sure are efficient with their technological knowledge.

So what about those Boomers?  Let’s just say, hypothetically, for a minute that you are a Millennial.  “Speed is so important to [you], but by investing just a few more minutes communicating with your elder colleagues, [you] will keep [your] Boomer coworkers happy (and no one likes to work with grumpy coworkers)”[4] 

-  Don’t rush meetings or presentations

-  Take extra time to review your emails and messages

-  Have face-to-face communication. 

Needless to say, “Boomer and Millennial communication has to start from respect.”[5]  Why not use one another as first hand resources?!  Boomers have spent nearly the entire lives of their Millennial cohorts in their industry.  Clearly enough experience to make them ideal mentors. 

Try “recognizing each other’s differences and integrating cogenerational communication” styles into your organization.  It will be a phenomenal yet simple way to “make sure all voices are heard.”[6]

[1] FUSE, p.96. Greenleaf Book Group Press, 2009.

[2] FUSE, p.98. Greenleaf Book Group Press, 2009.

[3] FUSE, p.99. Greenleaf Book Group Press, 2009.

[4] FUSE, p.103. Greenleaf Book Group Press, 2009.

[5] FUSE, p.105. Greenleaf Book Group Press, 2009.

[6] FUSE, p.106. Greenleaf Book Group Press, 2009.

 

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