Surrounded by Knowledge and Experience…Listening and Learning from Other Generations

I’m a Baby Boomer (born between 1946 and 1964), who makes an intentional effort to hang out with people from other generations.

Boomers have been called the “Me Generation” because they were the first generation to take a breather between childhood and adulthood and explore being young.  They got married later, had kids later, and spent lavishly on themselves.  Conversely, they are also one of the most active and selfless generations ever.  Their continual fight against injustice created the women’s movement, the civil rights movement, Vietnam War protests and much more.

I learn something new whenever I spend time with a Millennial (born between 1981 and 2000).  Millennials have overtaken Baby Boomers as America’s largest generation, 77 million vs. 76 million in 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau as outlined in Pew Research.  Lucky for me, I have Millennial children, always willing to help me navigate the tech world. They taught me how to take a better selfie, edit a Facebook post, and add “Bitmojis” to my text messages. They even alerted me when I was on Instagram Live by accident. Oops! They’ve also taught me the importance of living in the moment, choosing experiences over consumerism, happiness over success. In turn, they often seek career and life advice from me, because they know I’ve lived it. Millennials in general, don’t think jobs are forever. Many saw their hardworking dedicated parents laid off from corporate jobs in middle age. They will probably move on to other jobs frequently during their careers. Millennials are the children of Boomers. They were raised to think their voices matter. They would probably love to spend some time talking with you!

I regularly come away with a bit of history and wisdom when I visit my parents or spend time chatting with the wonderful people at the non-profit organization where I volunteer. These good people are members of the Traditionalists or Silent Generation (born 1945 or before). Members of this generation were hardworking loyal employees, and typically stayed with the same employer throughout their entire working lives. They were less likely to change jobs to advance their careers than younger generations, but they expected the same loyalty in return. They tend to be tech-challenged, but fortunately for some, their Millennial grandchildren are available to help. Traditionalists value safety, security and consistency, things I’ve come to appreciate more, as I’ve gotten older. Traditionalists are a proud group, and they make me proud!

I know lots of Generation X’ers (born 1965 to 1976), a smaller group sandwiched between Boomers and Millennials. There are 45 million of them, and a rising power in the workplace. Gen X’ers are generally more tech savvy than their Boomer friends and bosses, and have an affinity toward communicating via social media. They share many of the same work ethics and values as Boomers, but also insist on work life balance. They truly were the force behind creating a more flexible work environment. This is the generation that created casual Fridays, virtual teams, and telecommuting.  Gen X exemplifies what it means to manage up. As they become the bosses in the workplace, they have the ability to be a positive influence on Millennials.  Generation X’ers motivate me to keep my skills updated.  Afterall, they are likely to be the ones sitting in corner offices making decisions to hire a Millennial or a Boomer!

I must admit, I don’t know many Generation Z’ers (born between 1996 and 2010) with the exception of my younger nephews, but I’m going to make a point of spending more time listening to them. Some recent surveys show Generation Z  outsizing the Millennial clan by over one million. Gen Z has some key distinctions from Millennials. They have never known a world without smartphones and social media. They seem to crave more privacy than Millennials as evidenced by their affinity for social media platforms like “Snapchat”. Many Gen Z’ers were born post 9/11, and have a more wary view of the world. These are the children of Generation X’ers, who have to protect them in an uncertain world. They are our future!

Tell us your stories regarding relationships with people of other generations? What kind of impact have they had on your life?

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