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Bridging the generational gap

Bridging the Generational Communications Gap

Millennials Text, Others Talk
By 2020 the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there could be up to five generations working side by side in the same workplace.

If you’ve paid any attention to how younger generations use their phones, you know that it’s quite a bit different than their elders.

That difference is causing conflict, misunderstanding, and a lack of trust.

“We need to stop emailing and pick up the %^$# phone!,” said a mid-50s attendee at a professional development retreat, reports Jenna Goudreau in her Forbes article, How To Communicate In The New Multigenerational Office.

Reciprocation is not a word that this woman would use to describe communication in her mixed-generation office.

Venting her frustration, she explained that younger members of her team would respond to her phone calls with a text or an email instead of simply calling her back and, you know, talking on the phone.

That should come as no surprise since millennials prefer texting over talking and as one Gallup poll shows, “Sending and receiving text messages is the most prevalent form of communication for Americans younger than 50.”

Consider too that millennials have grown up with computers and smartphones in a way like no other generation before them. They can’t remember a time when they didn’t have access to that technology, so the way that they communicate is considerably different than other generations.

The younger they are, the more likely it is that they will naturally communicate with the newest technological options.

If you leave a voicemail for someone who is much younger than you, don’t be surprised if they prefer texting over talking and you don’t get a return phone call.


How to Solve the Communications Gap

If there’s one thing in business that will never change it’s relationships.

In the same way that people prefer to do business with people that they like and trust, relationships within the office are no different. Coworkers are more likely to help each other and go the extra mile if they get along.

With different generations working in the same office, a level of understanding needs to be reached to meet each one another’s expectations. With communication methods and techniques, both young and old can learn a lot from each other.

One has the professionalism that’s expected honed by years or decades of experience and the other has a pulse on all of the latest trends. Solving the workplace communications gap and reaching common ground and compromise requires an understanding of each other’s motivations, influences, and communication preferences.

Future Success Relies on Bridging Preferred Communication Methods

The future success of workplace communication will rely on building a collaborative relationship between calling, texting, voicemail, video, and whatever new disruptive messaging app is on the horizon.

For example, a solution that consolidates voicemail, texting, and phone calls into a single communication application will meet the needs and expectations of a team comprised of various ages and experience levels.

We need to create a modern conversation instead of allowing these disparate platforms to create confusion and anger with, “Why is this person calling me? Just text me!” versus, “Why won’t that kid return my phone call!?”

Younger generations have an appetite for all the many different ways of connecting and they’re not overwhelmed by the options or the volume of messages. Bridging preferred communication methods into a frictionless, convenient conversation enjoyed by all will unlock workplace efficiency and decode generational misconceptions.

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