These are the primary generations today
Today there are 4 major, active generations:
- iGen, Centennials or Gen Z: born 1996 and later
- Millennials or Gen Y: born 1977 to 1995
- Generation X: born 1965 to 1976
- Baby Boomers: born 1946 to 1964
Conflict generators between generations
I would say is the main reason for generations not getting along with each other. The school system in most countries failed to adapt to the pace in which the society needs had evolved. The Industrial Age set a trend in the education system, a trend that still exists. People were taught and prepared to work in factories, doing the same thing over and over again by following a strict procedure, at the same time every day. If you were getting somehow out of the traced boundaries you were subject to a penalty. The same way the education system still works after more than 70 years. You still need to go to class, at the same time every day, be quiet, do what you are told to do, do what all the other kids are doing. If not, you will end up in the headmaster’s office.
Why is this wrong? Because nowadays we have robots doing all the hard work in a factory. We don’t need people moving a box from left to right, at the same hour every day. We need people that can supervise these robots, that can react in unusual circumstances, that take a crucial decision in situations when a robot is not programmed to take action. Today we look for people that innovate, that come up with new ideas of selling a product, that sees things different than the guy next to him. Developing creativity, social skills, financial education or adapting to out of the routine scenarios should be the main goal of the education system today.
2. The way we see and want to live our life
Baby Boomers were born and raised in a post World War 2 era. They were raised and educated by people who fought and died in that war. They lived in a time when the Vietnam War, the Cold War or the Communism were common things. Not something you read online about a far far away country. Back in the 60’s or 70’s 90% of the people knew their paycheck has to come at the end of the month. For them, and even for some of the Generation X people, having a stable, well-paid job was the promise of a good life. You could afford a house, a car, 2 vacations per year and a good school for your kid close to the house. They wanted a quiet life, close to the family. Some of them never left their country or state once in their lifetime.
The Millenials and Centennials have the luck to live in a privileged era. I believe this is the best period in the human history. There are still wars and conflicts, but for the most part, the world is at peace. The opportunities these generations have made them see things differently. Today you can be a freelancer, you can have project-based jobs or you can be totally unemployed and still be making money. People don’t settle anymore for a stable job, working 8 hours per day in a factory. They want free time to spend with their family and friends, they want to travel around the world and get to know places, people, and cultures. They don’t care about that good school across the street. The internet is an unlimited source of information and knowledge.
The expectations are given by the experiences you have in your life, social status, major historical events, and technology. From different levels of expectations come different levels of appreciation. Generation X and late Baby Boomers are the creators of the technology that Millenials and Centennials take for granted. For an iGen kid, the fact that you can see on your phone the person to whom you are talking to is something to be expected. They don’t have the concept of not being able to talk to someone on the phone just because they are not home. When they were young, our parents didn’t have the concept of having their TV or grocery delivered at home. There was no possibility to order online. You actually had to drive to the store to buy stuff. What today we take for granted it used to be something to be grateful for.
How to handle the conflict between generations
1. If you are a Baby Boomer or Generation X
The key to getting along with newer generations is to accept that the world today looks very different than the world you grew in. The world today needs people with different kind of skills. Young people do things in a different way and at a different pace than you are used doing them.
Let’s say your kid doesn’t have straight As at school. Don’t panic. Try to focus on what he likes and he is talented at. Help him develop that specific skill even if it means neglecting others. Becoming an expert in a certain field will do him better in life than knowing 10 things at an average level. Let’s say your grandchild spend all day playing video games instead of going in the park. Well, you would probably have done the same if there were PS4 video games back when you were a child. In the end, those games can help him develop skills like dexterity, decision making or the reaction time.
What if your new employee is always late for work? Try to focus on the results he provides in the end rather than how he gets those results. If he delivers the project on time and with all requirements completed you shouldn’t be bothered by the fact that he likes to sleep an extra hour in the morning. Believe me, you want an employee who spends only 5 hours at work and he actually works during that time, than one who comes on time and spends 8 hours browsing the internet.
2. If you are a Millenial or iGen
You must understand that it is very hard to change a person’s habits, believes, and values. Our parents and grandparents were educated and lived in a certain way for decades. The things used to move much slower, there was no such an abundance of information available for the masses, possibilities were much limited than today.
Even so, take into consideration that they have something you don’t have yet. Life experience. When they tell not to smoke is maybe because they once did and now they have health issues you don’t even know about. And they don’t tell you that because they don’t want you to worry about them. If they tell you not to drive fast is probably because they lost a friend in a car accident when they were your age.
The gap between generations can only be closed if we all try to understand that we were shaped by different times. We have to accept that even if things are done in a different way it doesn’t mean they are done wrong.
Tip: To get a better understanding of the ones around you try to improve your communication skills.