Communicating Across Generations

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Blog Communicating Across Generations SM

Contributors: From your friends at United Way Fox Cities

Jackie Robinson was signed to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. The assassination of John F. Kennedy occurred in 1963. The Space Shuttle Challenger explosion in 1986 was the first tragedy televised live in schools. Four coordinated terrorist attacks happened in the United States on 9/11/2001. In 2009, Barack Obama became the first African American President of the United States. Each of these moments (and many more) make the list of “events that define a generation.”

Exploring the differences in generations, and the “why” behind the differences, was the focus of the most recent Leadership Event sponsored by United Way Fox Cities Emerging Leaders. The two-hour training session, facilitated by Mandi Dornfeld of Winnebago Co. Extension, called Communicating Across Generations took participants on a fascinating journey through the lives and experiences of five generations. These generations most greatly influence today’s workplaces, families, and communities: The Silent Generation (1925–1945), Baby Boomers (1946–1964), Generation X (1965–1979), Millennials (1980–1994), and Generation Z (1995–2012).

Through group brainstorming, participants discovered that other factors, not just major events, can also greatly influence and define generations. The other influencing factors ranged from fashion, like scrunchies and perms, to popular television shows or music, like All in the Family and The Beatles, to who was traditionally home to care for children (if anyone) after school.

All of these varying influences have created tendencies among the different generations, which can also create tension in the workplace. Everyone brings different values to the table, communicates differently, and has different experiences that drive their choices. The training helped to define the differences by generation and send participants away with a better understanding of how to work better together.

These are important conversations to have as we collaborate to improve our community. We all benefit from learning and appreciating our differences, as well as what we have in common. If you are interested in joining United Way Fox Cities for other important conversations happening in our community, please check our website for a list of upcoming events.