From Where I Sit – Laughter Can’t Hurt

In your day-to-day life do you deal with members of that ubiquitous group called Generation Y? You know the group: an enigma wrapped in a puzzle. Perhaps certain ones have driven you crazy and You’re not quite sure why.

For the record, Gen Ys are defined as having been born between 1977 and 1995 and they are known for their sense of entitlement. But It’s not their fault; it is a learned behavior and a parenting issue. As the mother of two Generation Y children, I am proud to report not everyone in the group turns out that way. Thank God.

Trust me, I understand the dangers of stereotyping anyone; as it happens to all of us every day. Many of us believe (or is that hope?) that we are special and unique. One?of-a-kind treasures. But generational characterizations (and most others for that matter) are often rooted in truth. They can happen so predictably that they become the definition.

As a Baby Boomer, I spend a disproportionate amount of time working, finding ways to work more efficiently, and talking about how hard I work. I can also name other Boomers who do not fit the mould at all. That doesn’t mean I don’t share the biggest single definer of our group, but rather that they are the exceptions to the rule.

Sharing this commonality with others doesn’t mean we don’t have the desire or power as individuals to change ourselves. It just isn’t easy. It feels like swimming upstream or dropping the baton.

Recently I was privileged to hear keynote speaker, (and self-admitted member of Generation Y) Curt Steinhorst, from the Centre for Generational Kinetics in Austin when he addressed the Travel Alberta conference. His talk was loaded with facts and stats. Best of all, he was funny as he mimicked the worst of his tribe with the body language we all recognize.

By all the conventional markers of adulthood they tend to be three to five years behind. They suffer from delayed adolescence. They graduate from college, get married, and have the house and kids?later. They typically get their first job at age twenty-seven. More than eighty-six percent of them will return home at some point. They never had to become self-reliant so they didn’t. They are not tech savvy but rather tech dependent. They need ongoing feedback.

If one of them is your employee or your child the best way to communicate is by texting. Even emails are too long. If you must use an email put the urgency and essence of the message in the subject line otherwise they won’t read it. Boomers on the other hand are writing novella-length notes in cursive. ?We can’t read cursive,? he whined to a room full of laughter.
If we are related to, working with, or trying to sell to someone from outside our group it is worth our while to learn some of the key differences that make us distinct. And knowing how to laugh can’t hurt either, from where I sit.

Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites.