OPINION: A Boomer response to Strong message from Gen Y

A Boomer Responds

I have started to reply to  OPINION: A strong Gen Y message to Boomers  3 times since reading it! My initial reaction was equally strong: I have to say I found it both condescending and arrogant and therefore not helpful in bridging the gap between generations!

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Boomer response to Gen Y Message

I have now slept on it and- stepping back- I feel it is full of stereotypes both in presuming what Boomers think of Gen Y (a long list of the classic reproaches)  and  also in the  perception of Boomers   …  I am looking at  the subject from the other side so this is how I feel:

Generational Strengths and Weakness

Yes of course Gen Y grew up with new technology, yes we boomers had to learn late and perhaps some failed to move with the times. However let’s not tar everyone with the same brush! Yes we know you are in the room! and that is just great; it is as it should be. Every generation has its strengths and its weaknesses but -as in society itself- companies need the diversity of age. If the writer’s parents and parents -in-law chose what she seems to perceive as a frivolous retirement, perhaps they worked hard for many years and deserve it?

I do not fit the Boomer caricature: I am still  paying for my house, am environmentally aware, perhaps more than my daughter and still working and benefiting from the diversity of age (and culture) we have in our company. I changed directions 5 years ago studying long and hard -whilst working, to gain new  skills which I am now putting into practice.

Were they Risk Adverse?

I take exception to the belief that our parents were risk averse!Tweet this They were drawn into a war before they had the chance to even think of a career and then worked from scratch to give us the best. So this is precisely what parents do! Of course we are affected by the context we live in but we do our best in the times which befall us. The writer is very lucky to have help for her mortgage ( if I understood correctly) from the Boomers she is so blithely shrugging off.

Our advice only comes from experience

Of course I may feel irritated by a younger generation seemingly always peering at a screen as they walk to work and yes I may say that they are very “me” oriented. However I’m sure my parents generation thought my music was too loud, I was not so ambitious and so on .. this is what generations do!  They repeat the same advice based on their experience and the younger ones reject it precisely for that reason.

No generation will get it all right… of course not but I feel the writer is  perhaps ‘guilty’ of the very attitudes  she reproaches  in Boomers?

Keep in mind those famous words ” Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it”.Tweet this

Open-mindedness and co-operation are the keys to living and working with diversity : I wonder if the writer has not simply “written the Baby Boomer Generation off” in her race to take their place. Remember also there is ALWAYS another generation behind you snapping at your heels!Tweet this

Here is the original post

A Strong Gen Y message to Boomers

 I find myself in all kinds of situations where comments are made by other generations, particularly Boomers, about Gen Y.

I am 33. Hey, I AM Gen Y.  And I am in the room.

I listen as they reel off our so-called defining characteristics as if we are some sort of sociology experiment: tech savvy, restless and flighty, seeking both work/life integration and variety, rapid online communicators, skilled multi-taskers, job hoppers, coddled, lazy, needy, desperate for love and affection, addicted to immediate attention, needing a trophy for every even minor achievement, indulged childhoods and so on.  Read on here:

 Join the generation debate. What are your thoughts?

3Plus, Culture, Personal & Professional Development, Relationships, Stages of Life
Jan Henson
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Jan is a Cross Cultural Coach and Trainer at Interface Business Languages

4 Comments

  • Pippa says:

    Hi Jan – I did not mean to be arrogant and I do understand that in every generation there are people who don’t exhibit all the stereotypical characteristics I have come across. My own mother would be one who is not totally typical. There will be people in my generation who subscribe to the overwork culture for example.

    I also know that although Boomers are confrontational in terms of challenging the status quo, they are less receptive to being challenged themselves. They are also characterized for being openly critical and outspoken about other generations.

    However even the most basic research would show that my personal observations and experiences would be in line with many studies carried out by major companies and organisations. You can also find information about what would be my grandparents generation – sometimes called the silent generation. It’s all easily searchable. McKinsey have done some excellent work on this – especially Boomer financial management styles, property ownership and debt generation. There is other information about the skyrocketing Boomer divorce rates and travel boom.

    For most of my circle, bridges between generations are generally great in our personal relationships, but professionally, I think many of us will be glad when we have the workplace to ourselves and freed up.

  • Sara Conrad (@SaraCsit) says:

    I read this thread last night before going to bed and woke up still irritated. Didn’t mean to be arrogant but came this close in the response to explaining how to Google and find the documentation to back up her claims.
    I’m 57, as old as Madonna and Prince. You’d work with them and hire them wouldn’t you?
    You say you took a sexual harrasment complaint to HR and they did nothing… well…If I worked with you, I’d be taking you to HR for age discrimination which is also sexist.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/age-discrimination-is-also-sexist_565deb16e4b079b2818bf4a8?
    Hmmm… just remember sweetie, you meet the same people on the way up as you do on the way down and how you treat them and your attitude says a lot. I hope you never have anything bad happen to you like say, losing your job, getting a divorce from your husband who doesn’t make as much as you (maybe you’ll have to support him) or any other life experiences. You just do your perfect self.

  • Angie says:

    Hi I didn’t experience any of the pieces the way @SaraCsit did. Perhaps because I am Gen X. I manage a team of Millennials and I can understand why they feel overly analysed- it’s probably because they are. But I can see why Boomers would feel sensitive. They are the healthiest generation ever of this age group and want to be actively engaged in the workplace or have to be. I agree with Sara that the corporate world is not very welcoming to this generation – and probably never has been.

    I think it’s unfair to personalise – Pippa clearly has suffered with her parent’s divorce and abandonment behaviour of her father. We have no idea what she hasn’t shared. So it’s not appropriate to conjecture.

    Up or down there won’t be many Boomers in the workplace for much longer. Like any generation, some will be missed and other’s won’t.

    I think impatience is the prerogative of the young and talented. If it wasn’t this way I would be more worried.

  • Clara Webb says:

    Hello – I actually found Pippa’s post balanced and not arrogant at all. She probably speaks for our generation to some degree. There are elements of her story in my life. My grand parent’s generation – Jan Hansen’s parents ARE called the Silent Generation and post war most were risk averse. It’s considered to be a characteristic of that generation.

    In her 30s Pippa is unlikely to have had the full range of life’s troubles – but her mother certainly has. But we don’t know. If my dad had run off to Thailand with a woman young enough to be my sister I think I’d be pretty scarred.

    I think our generation are savvier about money than Boomers. We certainly would make sure we were protected financially in later years. I see that with my mother and her friends – they were not fiscally sensible in their 30s and 40s. Now divorced as many are, they are struggling, and face uncertain futures.

    Many Boomers should think about training and getting up to date. The ones in my office are way behind other generations in terms of technology. Pippa is right – technology frightens many, but not all. Most Millennials suck these issues up and as Pippa said when they have had enough – they leave. Boomers can’t do that because they probably wouldn’t get re-hired. It’s not an easy situation. There is probably a lot of repressed frustration there.

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