Phone calls are the bane of my professional existence. Truth be told, I’d often catch myself letting my phone ring while I pretend nothing’s happening.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not proud of it. And I only do it under specific circumstances: I don’t know the caller, I’m sure it’s not urgent, I’m incredibly busy. As it turns out, I’m not alone in this.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, of the 43.7 million Filipinos who are part of the workforce as of January 2019, 4.7 percent are 65 years old and above while 14.7 percent are from the 15-24 years old age group. In between ages are the rest.
While generational diversity gives companies a wealth of perspectives, communicating across different age groups can be quite a challenge as communication style among them is different.
First, let’s talk about the oldest member of the workforce.
Baby boomers, or those 55-75 years old, value face-to-face interactions. In a study by the Notre Dame of Maryland University, digital messaging company Glip said the best way to communicate with baby boomers at work or even at home is through face-to-face conversations.
Being more traditional, they prefer conversations peppered with non-verbal cues and body language.
It’s not unusual for a baby boomer colleague or client to ask to meet in person or call to clarify and get the message right away. When it comes to using technology, many opt for video call—since it has the benefits of both a face-to-face meeting and a phone call—over replying to email chains.
If you want to clarify something, call video call, or meet with them.
Don’t feel bad if your Gen X co-worker, or those aged 40-54, only replied “K tnx” to your long message complete with right punctuation marks, because they like to keep it short and get straight to the point.
Being the first generation to incorporate digital technology in their youth, Gen Xers were the early adopters of email as well as text messaging with character limits. So while they are more connected with the younger generations than the older group because of their ability to use digital technology, they prefer short, brief messages as opposed to lengthy ones—because they had to before.
When communicating with Gen X, remember that they like to KISS (keep it short and simple).
Meanwhile, for millennials, or those who are aged 24-39, phone calls are considered invasive and intrusive.
Born to an offline world, and grew up in the boom of the Internet and mobile technology, millennials are more sensitive to boundaries because they know the time when being extremely accessible wasn’t the norm.
With the availability of and their ability to utilize other forms of digital communication, they have other choices that let them respond on their own terms, as opposed to phone calls that demand instant response.
So before calling a millennial, consider sending them a message first.
Digital natives Gen Z, 23 years old and below, have spent much of their lives in front of screens, which has led them to prefer communicating online than in person. But there’s a bit of a twist.
In an article published in Forbes, the youngest employees in the workplace want some form of human element woven into their team interactions. Meaning, they prefer video chats instead of phone calls, when conveying their thoughts and ideas more effectively.
Messaging apps like Viber is an ideal communication tool that caters to the quirks and preferences of different generations. Its chat features include audio and video calls, instant voice and video messages, and expressive stickers.
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