Can you hear me now?

Communicating across Generations By Rita M. Murray, PhD

Generational gaps between us in the workplace are growing in number and size. The ability to spot and bridge them has become a critical competency. Obsession with digital connectivity has changed the nature of communication and given all of us far more options to reach out to others. It has also spurred conflict in the workplace as many millennials feel held back by inflexible or outdated working and communication styles.

What are the roots of conflict? Different generations tend to favor and rely on their preferred communication tools – check out these differentiating insights:


In the 40’s and 50’s, there was a model of fixed working time and place suited to the industrial age. Communicating face to face had a known human element to it – no anonymity. Families gathered around the radio for news and entertainment. Farm and assembly machinery represented the type of work equipment this generation encountered/used most frequently.

Baby Boomers

In the 60’s and 70’s, computers were too big and expensive for home use. Businesses used mainframe/mini computers to process data for decision-making. Younger Boomersdiscovered “dumb terminals” in college and high school where they keypunched code and solved problems.

Generation X  

Generation X was shaped by a culture of gadgets and tools in the 80’s and 90’s, foremost among them, the personal computer (PC), introduced in the early 80s. This helped foster a sense of personal and private initiatives among Gen X. Portable for use in homes and schools, the PC became a way to gain a competitive edge in a global economy.


First wave Millennials (born 1981-1990) entered a workplace of browsers, email, WWW, Windows, cable, Google, WiFi – learning together how to connect and communicate. Second wave Millennials (born 1991-2000), gained greater autonomy over where, when and how they work through smart devices. Thus, the line between work and home has become increasingly blurred and most prefer to communicate electronically than face to face or over the telephone.

Cloud Generation (“Sky’s the limit”)

Entering the 2017-18 workplaces, smart personal devices and social media tools have always been available anytime/anywhere to members of the Cloud generation. Expect accelerated and intense clashes over communication as more than eight-in-ten say they sleep with a cell phone by their bed.

Generational lens provides a powerful and easy to use “set of handles” to actively engage in asking, discovering, observing, exposing, and communicating vital information and ideas relevant to maximized engagement across the generations. Healthy relationships require deep and meaningful personal connections.

We will partner with you and provide generational keynote topics and generational soft skills development events for enhancing leadership and team dynamics. Or you may bulk purchase our Generation Translation Workbooks and Interaction Guides for your team members. As you learn more about these generations and how best to use that information to improve relationships and increase your own effectiveness, everyone benefits.

It’s never too late to get started on refining your generational intelligence (GQ). Can you hear me now?