May 27, 2020

How to Establish Effective Communication with People From Different Life Stages

Communication is important for success – both personally and professionally. 

Mastering effective business communication skills, you‘ll be able to boost your career, improve relationships, and increase people skills.

However, while communicating, you need to understand the fluidity of adjusting your words and content to match the listener’s age.

In this article, we’ll discuss the nuances related to communicating effectively with people according to their life stages.

Understanding the Communication Process

When communicating with clients or colleagues, you should be polite yet tactful. Not only will this lead to an easy conversation, but it will also be mutually enjoyable.

It should be interesting to note that face-to-face communication is only 10 percent language-specific, according to experts. The remaining 90 percent is made out of non-verbal aspects that include your tone and body language.

So, not only do you need to focus on the words that you choose, but you also need to be careful with your gestures.

The tone of voice refers to the way you speak. Whether you‘re gentle or aggressive in your approach, speak fast or slow, use pauses or emphasis, and so on. This makes your speech sound more personal and interesting.

Mannerisms and demeanor are what make up your body language. This includes your facial expressions, hand and arm movements, and your posture – whether you‘re relaxed or stiff.

In addition to this, your gaze and distance play significant roles as well. This means whether you’re looking at a person and paying attention to them, or standing too close or too far.

Hence, communication is a beautifully complex art that you need to learn to master.

The Right Way to Communicate with People, According to Age

Traditionally, there are four stages of life: childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and late adulthood.

While childhood is the phase where the ball of life starts to roll, things become more dormant when you enter the last stage. It’s the adolescence and adulthood stages where one is bursting with energy, ideas, and ambition.

Naturally, you need to communicate with people accordingly.

The way you talk to a child cannot be similar to the way you talk to an adult and an elder person. In the same way, talking to an adolescent is slightly different from talking to adults.

Nevertheless, we’re going to focus on different life stages altogether. 

We’re going to introduce three different categories that make up the multigenerational workforce today. These are the following:

  • Baby Boomers
  • Generation X
  • Millennials

Some of you might not be familiar with these three generations, but it’s actually what you’re going to be dealing with when you network or do business. This precisely why you need to become more aware of the same to enhance your communication skills.

Baby Boomers vs. Generation X vs. Millennials: How to Communicate With These Generations

Baby boomers, generation X, and millennials are generations with different cultures and influential event experiences that helped shape them. Read on as we discuss these generations in more detail along with useful tips to bridge the intergenerational gap better.

Baby Boomers (1944 to 1960)

They give a lot of importance to freedom of expression and personal freedom and growth. Getting recognition is a big deal to them. The introduction of commercial architecture and some monumental law changes helped to shape the America of the future. This made baby boomers more motivated when they have ownership or feel needed. 

With the Civil Rights Movement and the Space Race, boomers know the importance of standing up for themselves and never letting go of ambition. At the same time, they are sensitive to feedback and don’t like conflicts for the fear of feeling judged and deprived.

Tips for Better Communication:

  • Acknowledge the challenges they face and let them embrace their independence
  • Always give them their privacy and treat them with respect
  • Try to take an educative approach. Don’t naturally assume that they know what they are doing, even if it may sound like it.
  • Always be welcoming to their ideas and have a fluid approach

Generation X (1961 to 1980)

Fun and self-reliant with a non-traditional approach is the perfect way to describe this generation. They understand the difference between being taken advantage of and working hard. 

The 70s had people fighting for equality and protesting against wars. It was a time when the emergence of several political scandals shook people’s faith in the government. On the bright side, it was also the beginning of the digital revolution.

No wonder, Gen X has a strong and balanced internal and external goal motivation as well. Having a responsible and responsive outlook, they can adapt to the dynamic landscape efficiently.

Tips for Better Communication:

  • Don’t try to adopt the role of an expert when chatting
  • Let them speak and express their ideas freely
  • Adjust your approach from a young adult and a middle-aged adult. These are two different individuals having different maturity levels.
  • Refrain from sounding patronizing when providing support
  • Don’t give them false reassurance and instead adopt a realistically hopeful approach
  • Do your best to get to know them better

Millennials (1981 to 1995)

This generation thrives in a challenging situation that requires action, adaptability, and acceptance. They are technologically-advanced and tenacious, having incredible self-belief and self-efficacy.

The tech revolution, in particular, made them way more aware of what’s going on in the world and transformed workplaces and homes in a more efficient and convenient space.

Events like the 9/11 attacks and the swearing-in ceremony of America’s first black president, Barack Obama impacted them mentally and psychologically.

Tips for Better Communication:

  • Adjust your speech according to the individual’s outlook. Some of them may appreciate humor, while some prefer a serious conversation.
  • Try to encourage active engagement as much as possible
  • While being respectful is important, don’t become too overprotective or solicitous
  • Listen to them patiently, and avoid making too many interruptions

Takeaway Thoughts

Communication doesn’t come with a user manual, which is why you can adjust according to the person and situation. Interaction with different age groups is important for achieving goals and exchanging ideas. This will also help in promoting generational diversity.

Listening and learning are the key essentials to effective communication – just focus on this and you’ll be good to go. 

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