Friday, December 12, 2008

Communication can’t be a generational thing.

  • the act or process of communicating; fact of being communicated
  • the imparting or interchange of thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing, or signs
  • something imparted, interchanged, or transmitted
    (Thanks to

How do you communicate? How much time do you spend on the phone vs. using e-mail? When was the last time you actually wrote a note by hand or actually met with someone in person? Does generation factor into how you communicate?

According to a report this year by Forrester®, “Generation Y sets the pace for technology adoption and digital, far exceeding any platform of traditional media consumed spending. In a survey of 45,315 North American online adults, people 21–-25 spend an average of 17.6 hours online per week, with 65% of that time for leisure purposes.”

Theirs is a life lived online. It’s all they’ve known. It’s a world not only of e-mails, instant messaging and texting, but posting on social web sites like Facebook® or using Twitter.

By contrast, Boomers learned how to read and write both by hand and on something called a typewriter. We also used something called “conversation.” Most, but not all of us, later evolved to electronic communication. Research shows a significant number of Boomers are well versed in computing. Those who aren’t are generally held back by economic or educational circumstances, or plain stubbornness.

So how does Generation Y communicate with the Boomer Generation and vice-versa? Communication between generations has always been a challenge. The divide is prevalent both inside and outside the work place. Sometimes it’s like we exist in parallel universes.

Being in the business of teaching people how to use computers for over 21 years there certainly is anecdotal evidence showing that both generations have room to improve, better yet, to compromise. The good news is today’s computer technology offers the best opportunity to bridge generational divides.

What good is it for someone from Gen Y to be a Twitter whiz, if they can’t work with a simple Excel® spreadsheet? Your Facebook page may rock, but what about your presentation to senior management on a project involving the merge of numerous documents, graphics and images, where you actually have to speak, live, in front of real people?

It goes both ways of course. Boomers belong on Facebook. There’s no reason that senior management can’t use Twitter to communicate short, concise thoughts and opinions.
Perhaps we can teach each other. These are uncertain times at best. We can all do better.
It all starts with communication. We’re happy to help.


John W. SchererJ

ohn is CEO and founder of Video Professor, Inc.

You can reach him at