Some Baby Boomers Need to Change

There is a growing backlash against the way in which some managers speak to their staff, the same is currently happening in New Zealand sport with the way in which coaches speak to players.

When I go into organisations and talk about generational differences in the way that we communicate, the baby boomers who haven't changed always challenge me. "These are just generalisations that you are talking about aren't they" the person will shout out. 'Got you' I think to myself, you are the one who has not changed with the times and you are the person who is causing the most harm in your workplace.

The sad thing is, they don't know that they are wrong and expect everyone to adhere to their views.

My reply is always the same when challenged in this way - "You are right, these are generalisations, generalisations are based on research and research provides us the answers based on the majority of responses". In other words, you sir, are in the minority. Of course I don't say that last sentence, I say it to myself.

Baby boomers tend to talk in long sentences, tend to give you more information than you need, often don't like talking about personal matters particularly if it involves their family, will tell you in no uncertain terms when they are annoyed about something, and are less direct in their approach to challenging conversations by opening up with "So how are you doing?" Baby Boomers developed the praise sandwich - This what you are doing well, this is what you need to change, this is also where you are doing well - which was designed to make it easier to deliver a negative message.

In short, baby boomers liked to talk, a lot. Some of this talk is now seen as inappropriate - "Have you finished that f'en project yet as it is f'en due in 2 days". "F'off" comes the retort. What was actually said - "Is that nearly ready", "Just about".

Today, some baby boomers will finish their conversation off with a final comment in the way that they used to, especially if they don't think that you have understood their message - "You need to just do what I say", or "It's my way or the highway", or "Just get it done". A very few baby boomers go much further - "You need to step it up", or "Just move on", or the very worst, "Toughen up and get on with it".

That is the way we, yes I am a baby boomer, spoke with each other and it was accepted as the norm. No longer is this appropriate. As generations have evolved, they have learned to be more respectful, more compassionate, more empathic, and more co-operative. Dictatorship, authoritarianism, and commandeering conduct is quite rightly unacceptable.

Frankly, this style of communication is tantamount to bullying. And, we know that bullying causes harm and at the extreme end, causes deaths.

We, baby boomers, made the children who they are today. It is us who taught them how to communicate differently by giving them what they asked for, for modifying the rules to suit their needs, and for introducing them to technology. It is quite right that we did so.

So it us, not all of us, just the minority of baby boomers who are stuck in their past and remain stoic in their stance of "These young people need to change". No, it is you sir who needs to change.

Know also that mothers passed on their personality traits to the their sons and fathers to their daughters. So it is also a very few of the early Generation-Y women who speak the way that their fathers do. It is unacceptable.

Getting the best out of people means working to their skills in a supportive manner, speaking with them not to them, and encouraging them to challenge themselves not to compete against others.

Unfortunately, the few people who need to read this post won't, they are too busy burying their head in the past and believe the world should change for them. It won't change, we need to adapt.

Let's talk!