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Multigenerational Communication Quiz

Among the Traditionalists, Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y, there are preferred styles of communication in the workplace. What’s your style? Take our quiz to learn more.


Let’s see how you do with our multigenerational communication quiz… ready?

1. You’d like to ask a colleague to get coffee with you today, but their office is about a 10-minute walk from yours.  How do you approach them?

a). Walk over to their office and ask in-person

b). Give them a phone call

c). Shoot them an email

d). Send them a text

e). Drop off a handwritten note

Your answer to this question will give you insight to your preferred method of communication… which brings us to the next question.

2. What if the colleague you were asking to coffee was:

65 years old

3. Or…

55 years old

4. Or…

35 years old

5. Or…

25 years old

Which method of communication is preferred for each age?  Here’s a little cheat sheet to help you.

You’ve probably figured out that, in general, our Traditionalists (63-86) prefer to communicate through letters. Our Boomers (44-62) prefer speak in-person. Gen X (28-43) love email and Gen Y (8-27) send texts. Does this mean we should all communicate one way? Absolutely not. It means we need to be adaptable.

If you want your message to be heard, you need to adapt your communication style to the listener. Individualize your approach and take time to learn your co-workers communication preference. Then find an agreeable compromise that suits both of your needs.

How many times have you said to yourself, “Why can’t they just use email? It would be so much easier!” Sure, we’ve all been there. Assuming it’s the other generation’s problem to figure out how to communicate with us. But the truth is, it’s a mutual responsibility and it’s starts with respect.

Department managers can hold meetings to bring awareness to those differences and clarify what is misunderstood.  Solutions will arise from these meetings.  For example, a Boomer manager may feel a Gen Y employee requires a lot attention, while the Gen Y employee feels under appreciated and seeks feedback.  Setting expectations for each role is key, but also agreeing to a communication style is equally important.  Perhaps the Boomer manager could agree to send 1-2 feedback texts per week if the Gen Y employee agrees to assume more independence in their current project. It’s an easy compromise as long as both generations discuss what they need and how they prefer to communicate.

Bottom line: We all need to learn from each other.  Traditionalists and Boomers bring experience and knowledge to the team, while younger generations offer the latest technology trends and how companies need to communicate with a younger consumer.  Strengthen your team today by inviting a colleague outside your generation to get a cup of coffee.

You may also want to check out this blog post:

Why Hire Millennials for Management Roles

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