What Did You Say? Communicating Across Generations

GenBusinesses and organizations engage in two kinds of communication: internal communications among staff members and external communications between the business and its customers and prospects. Both require selection of a communication style — the specific way the message will be delivered.

Much internal communication is between individuals or small groups in the work place, while external communication is usually to a large audience (though with enough personal data, an external communication can be crafted for a small group or even an individual). Individuals differ in how they receive and share information, shaped by how they prefer to process information — visually (seeing), aurally (hearing), kinesthetically (doing), or a hybrid of reading and writing. Interestingly, an individual’s preference for sharing information may be different than his or her preference for receiving information.

When an individual is in a group (say, a participant in a meeting or part of the intended audience for a marketing message), then the individual’s generation shapes communication preferences. Understanding these generational preferences is the basis of communicating effectively.