A Method to Communication Madness

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Our CoPs group continues to explore inter-generational communication challenges and often the topic revolves around values and diversity between generations. Which are critical to understanding the purpose of generations and their motives and methods. But, to understand that each generation embraces a variety of values , Smola, K., (2002), life / work balances, and life / work expectations would be a gross underestimation of considering how each generation learns and communicates. On a basic level it may be easier to understand that each generation fully embraces the method of communication that is born of that generations technological evolution because it physically become an ingrained learning that co-exists with their own personal development and lived experience through their primary years of education. There are technologies you are born into and there are technologies that you are exposed to in which become a learning experience and developed behavioural experience. Technologies of nature and technologies of evolution. How does that point of entry impact your ability to embrace each newer technology and its impact on the environmental and cultural communication between generations?

These thoughts could be the foundation of discovering answers surrounding workplace inter-generational communication challenges successes.

Millennial who are born into a culture of wireless connectivity have never experienced the evolution involved with the technology to understand where that experience evolved. Baby Boomers on the other hand, are born into an experience of the birth of a telephone connected through a complex cabling and communication system, helping them to better understand and appreciate the foundation with which the technology is derived from as well having the lived experience of coming from a less efficient system. These conditions of being born into or evolved into a ‘wireless’ system is one example of how stereotypes evolve attached to a time frame with which people develop in their work and personal lives.

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The famous Communications theorist Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase “the message is in the medium“, and nothing could be more reflective of messaging today than his foresight into the fact that messaging is truly only a result of the medium with which it is conveyed.

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Even within a very small evolutionary 10 year age gap between Millennial and Gen X’s the medium of messaging changes significantly. The platforms have changed, as well the size of the communication has changed. Emails typically being longer than a text, FB message or Tweet. Email would also be the last traditional form of communication capable of providing professional formatting opportunities. Taking all communications to a level of casualness not previously seen among colleagues, coworkers, customers etc. Communication younger than a Boomer is conceived of all written messaging as opposed to vocal. The basic dynamics within the medium has created a colossal shift in the communication abilities, conveniences, accessibility, qualities, of all generational employees in a workplace environment. This doesn’t include the massive and growing use of visuals that are replacing vocabulary and the printed word, but the use of emojis, gifs, videos, that are easily sent and viewed on today’s electronics.

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To evaluate communication challenges between generations it is imperative to review all components of each demographics beliefs and value systems, but it is equally important to identify if the generation has come from a verbal communication generation or a visual communication generation and consider the mediums available to continue to open the lines of communication in workplace environments.


Riot.im (2017), Mind the Gap, Bridge the Gap between Baby Boomers and Millennials in the Workplace, Retrieved from https://medium.com/@RiotChat/mind-the-gap-bridge-the-gap-between-baby-boomers-and-millennials-in-the-workplace-9b89e69359c7

Smola, Karen, (2002), Journal of Organizational Behaviour, Generational difference: revisiting generational work values for the new millennium, https://doi.org/10.1002/job.147, Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/job.147

Cheryl is a Grad Student at Royal Roads University studying her Masters in Professional Communications. As an Executive Director of a community based Small Business Organization, advocacy and business ethics are paramount to providing fair and ethical leadership in the business sector. 

As a Baby-Boomer, awareness about the vitality, value and worthiness of people over 50 as valuable contributors to the 21st century workforce,  is more than a passion, it is a human right!

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