In Other Words: Learning the Art of Communicating with the Next Generation

We live in the “information age” but not the “communication age.”

Communicating with the next generation has never been more difficult. How did it become acceptable that our primary way of communicating with each other would be limited to 140 characters or less? Beyond that, we lose the attention of our children, students or young employees. If the words aren’t an amalgam of letters and numbers, well then C U L8R!

Communicating with the next generation is essential. A CEO recently reported that all the people he fired over the last two years were due to failures in communication. People either miscommunicated information, communicated it poorly, or flat out failed to communicate necessary details.

Look around you. In our culture, we often fail at the fundamentals. Having a conversation without an electronic device involved. Writing a thank-you letter. Listening in earnest to a friend in need. Our human exchanges lead us to learn, transform, revolutionize, innovate, connect and love. Communicating with the next generation has never been more important.

Communication is a lost art and we need to resurrect it.
People are getting lazier about truly connecting with each other, and the consequences of this trend will be grievous on a large scale. The emotional intelligence of adolescents has dropped in the last 10 years. Their communication is reduced to the superficial via text, tweet or Facebook. The older generation struggles to understand how to “break through the filters” of young people. Back in the 1960s, America discovered we had a “generation gap” between adults and Boomer kids. Today, there’s a “communication gap” between adults and Generation Y kids that prevents communicating with the next generation.

Parents, educators, mentors and employers are being challenged by the new rules and a language we literally don’t understand. We are immigrants in this new world of young natives. Even though we desire to connect, communicating with the next generation provides unique challenges. For instance contrast corporate America with her newest employee, a fresh college graduate:


1. Email information to colleagues                               1. Facebook information to colleagues

2. Use a phone to call people                                          2. Use a phone to text people

3. Relay data thru a one-way download                      3. Learn best thru uploading/interacting

4. Prefer copy and words to report facts                       4. Love images to report / receive facts

5. Leap into “what” others must know                         5. Want to grasp “why” they must know

6. View the world via facts and figures                        6. View the world via stories & feelings

The same gap often exists between students today and the typical classroom. Communicating with the next generation is a challenge for teachers as kids have been conditioned to be participatory, but most faculty don’t teach that way:

STUDENTS TODAY                                                      SCHOOLS TODAY

1. Right-brain thinkers                                                     1. Left-brain delivery

2. Experiential in nature                                                   2. Passive in nature

3. Learn by uploading, expressing themselves          3. Teach by downloading lectures

4. Music / art enable them to retain information      4. Music and art classes often cut

5. Desire to learn what is relevant to life                      5. Teach for the next test

6. Creativity drives them                                                    6. Curricula/test scores drive them

This gap is crucial for leaders to understand
Those who learn this critical skill of communicating with the next generation and harness the potential of this new generation of employees—will have a decided advantage as the Boomer generation retires over the next 15-17 years. If we fail to figure out this dilemma, our prospects are dim. In many states, the employment rate and the economy have stalled not because there aren’t jobs available but because we’ve failed to onboard these recent graduates into the workforce.

Lee Iacocca, former CEO of Chrysler, said the obvious: “You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere.” In fact, “The void created by the failure to communicate is soon filled with poison, drivel and misrepresentation” according to C. Northcote Parkinson. In short, people are down on what they’re not up on.

But now there’s an “app” for that.

Habitudes For Communicators

January 18, 2012 marks the release of a new Habitudes® book: Habitudes For Communicators. Like the other Habitudes books, it will be filled with images that represent timeless principles, to be read, discussed and applied on a team. The images in this book revolve around engaging and communicating with the next generation. You’ll learn how to communicate effectively through images like Windows and Mirrors, #3 Pencil, House of Fire, the Faded Flag, School Yearbook and more. This one will furnish an entire suite of offerings:

The Book: Habitudes For Communicators, to be discussed with your team

The Event: Training for communicating with the next generation with individual evaluations

The Assessment: A forty-eight question self-assessment to gauge your effectiveness in communicating with the next generation

The Teachers Guide: A discussion guide for leaders to use with teams

Those who are good at relationships and communication are at a premium. When leaders are equipped for communicating with the next generation, they unleash hidden:

• Creativity           • Passion

• Energy                • Influence

• Talent                 • Optimism

Here’s to mastering the art of communicating with the next generation!




In Other Words: Learning the Art of Communicating with the Next Generation