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  • Writer's pictureSherri Elliott-Yeary

Generation Gap & The Generational DNA That Made It

What generation do you fall into? I have found that exploring and understanding the different generations can help us to appreciate each other much more, and it helps us communicate better. This is important to me as I had my daughter at an earlier age than most and I am on the cusp of a couple different generations. I am a Gen X’er by age, but my generational personality is that of a Baby Boomer.

To clarify what I mean by Generational DNA and Generational Personality, I have outlined the generations below by birth year and a few characteristics that might stand out.

Traditionalists - 1922 to 1944 - Born during the Great Depression. Grew up expecting a hard life with few frills. They worked very hard and learned how to save money. They were not loud in terms of protests and did not take risks. Family values and traditions were important to this generation. They were loyal to their country and their employers and respected authority.

  • Value privacy, trust, hard work

  • Believe in paying their dues

  • Respect authority & social order

  • Conformists, historically oriented, Loyal

  • Needs details, uncomfortable with ambiguity

Baby Boomers - 1945 to 1964 - Known to have a strong work ethic, be extremely independent, goal oriented, disciplined and competitive. These individuals are also very resourceful, mentally focused and team oriented. They have an “anything is possible” attitude.

  • 76 million strong

  • Majority of today's workers

  • Love to be challenged

  • First Generation of TV addicts

  • Speak clearly and directly

  • Use face-to-face meetings with follow up emails

  • Career ladder development

Gen X - 1965-1979 - These individuals are independent, resourceful, and self-sufficient. They value freedom and responsibility in the workplace and embrace a hands-off management philosophy. They are technologically adept, flexible and value a work/life balance.

  • Value portable careers

  • Looking for a chance to go global

  • Don't climb ladders

  • Looking for a leader or mentor, not necessarily a boss

  • The most misunderstood generation

Gen Y or Millennials - 1980 to 1996 - The largest generation in western history. They are technologically savvy as they grew up being connected. They are civic-oriented, entrepreneurial, authentic, adventurous and compassionate. They are the “we want it now” generation.

  • Generation "Why"

  • Children of Boomers, nearly 76 million strong

  • Sociable, optimistic

  • Talented, and a hot commodity in the job market

  • Have higher expectations & little experience

  • Multitaskers, confident and loyal

  • Create "lattice framework" of experience

Gen Z – 1997 and later - The “internet experts” who would rather have a digital conversation than a real-life one. They look up to YouTubers and send messages through Snapchat because they are more private and don’t like the idea of a permanent post. They tend to turn their hobbies into jobs are self-starters and are more accepting of each other’s differences.

  • Multi-task at warp speed

  • Prefer digital conversations

  • Require connectivity between home, school & life

  • Realistic not idealistic

  • Want to start their own business

  • Very private about personal life & don't over share

  • Passionate about learning

  • Hyper aware of branding & marketing that isn't authentic

  • Financially diligent about preparing for the future

Maybe you are considered a “cusper” which means you are within 2 to 3 years of a generational age range. Cuspers can usually identify with the values and behaviors of two generations like myself who is on the cusp of Baby Boomer and Generation X.

I believe that it is important to realize that these different generations bring beautiful things to our lives in terms of values, tradition, aspirations, understanding, acceptance and our future.

As a Mom with daughters that are at a minimum two generations apart from me, it is not always easy to accept and understand the way they do things today, which is so different from what I did at their age. I constantly find myself questioning how they think, feel and function, but I have come to understand that I need to embrace the differences in our generations, stay up to speed on technology and encourage them to learn and grow their own way.

My affirmation for you this week is:

“I embrace the ideas of other generations and know that each generation has something of value to contribute.”



#generationalDNA #generationgap

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