Communicating with a New Generation


If you’re going to lead anything you need to learn to communicate across generations. Most of us have no problem communication with those are older than we are, but we often stumble when dealing with the younger generations. I have studied, worked with and watch e generation that prefers learning in a non-sequential, mosaic way–no doubt influenced by the a culture saturated with endless sound and video bytes. I have experienced that first hand in the lives of my own children whose world is one large media bucket where they both learn and interact with information in a much more informal and yet dynamic way than I did at their age.

We no longer search for information, but information seeks and finds us whenever we are. Between my Twitter and Facebook feeds I’m constantly aware of news, trivia, the important and the ridiculous searching for me every second of the day.

For those of us in communication this seemingly shift toward the chaotic and yet abundant information overload along with the changing learning habits has significant implications. Here’s a few to consider:

1.Publishers that survive this shift will have to figure out how to produce and distribute content that’s beyond the black and white printed page. We might not be reading books, but we’re watching YouTube, reading blogs, listening to podcasts, reading Facebook posts and sharing our own content online.

2. Educators who succeed will no longer be guardians of knowledge since anyone with a phone can now access the all the human knowledge base in seconds. The new educators will help students think, reason and make sense of the available information. Teaching facts is no longer the role of the teacher.

3.Pastors and speakers will connect with this generation by helping them understand the great timeline of faith and how their own stories fit within God’s plan of redemption. They’ll begin spiritual conversations instead of preaching didactic sermons on what not to do. They’ll create environments for Biblical discovery instead of legislating spirituality.

4.Employers will have to understand that this generation is not lazy, but that they live life full and in the moment and that relationships, causes and even pleasure will not be postponed for the sake of a career and “getting ahead.” Quality of life is the new currency superseding the almighty dollar.

5.Parents must instill a strong moral and ethical code within their children from birth. There are not enough Internet filters and tv channel blockers to protect our children from the culture’s information dump being pushed at them at the speed of light. If we can’t shelter them from life as we know it, we must get to their hearts and minds before the rest of the planet does.

What other areas do you see a need in a different communication approach?

  • Mark Taylor

    Excellent post Maurilio. I think it's one of the best you have written to date.

  • Great post, Maurilio.Advertising needs a seriously different communication approach. Print advertising is gasping for breath, radio advertising is nowhere near as effective as it once was, and TiVo solved the TV commercial "problem" for the most part.Creating new and unique ways to send me your RELEVANT message, without being bombarded with a bunch of useless information (the current state of advertising since it's inception) will be the key to getting more of my $$.

  • Thanks Mark. I agree with you Scott on finding ways to sift through the clutter and only send people information that's relevant to them.

  • Arnold Remtema

    Great points, Maurilio. Yes, learning is in a mosaic way. Educators have a great challenge and opportunity to be facilitators of learning by raising the bar for discovery and meaningful engagement with new knowledge.

  • So true about capturing the hearts and minds of our children while they are young. The technology available at our fingertips gives us way too much opportunity to follow through on the temptation already present in our hearts and minds. I used to use covenant eyes to block/prevent pornographic sites from finding me or me finding it. Having a pda in my hands changes the game. I have to be even more cognizant of my internal walk and not just the visible walk.

  • Great post! I echo Scott. The only time I look much at advertising or print is to avert boredom, like standing in the grocery line or waiting in a room of some sort that has a wrinkled magazine. I scan the magazines gathering more tidbits of information to keep from being bored. As communicators, in print or speech, we have to get the relevant information out quickly and in bold print. To hold attention we have to connect with a felt need, offer some help, and wrap it up in a short time span. One point is about all we can handle. Make it memorable to be the most effective.

  • This post reminded me of something I read in the book Understanding Manga and Anime, by Robin E. Brenner. The author describes a new kind of literacy, "visual literacy," being studied in this younger generation. This new literacy melds together three intelligences: linguistic (and strong vocabularies), spatial (those who think in images and pictures), and interpersonal (those who react to body language and are strong communicators). Young people have adapted to this type of literacy because of playing video games, the book says.I bought the book because I had to decide whether I would allow my daughter to read manga. I was afraid, at that time, that it would make her "lazy" about reading proper novels.But understanding this as another kind of literacy made me more open to allowing her to include manga as part of her recreational reading, since different connections in her brain were being forged and used when she read the manga.

  • Spot on post Maurilio. Very well said.

  • @RichardSafe Eyes has a product for the iPhone and iPods. @Avocational I don't know much about Manga. It sounds interesting, however. I 'll check it out.

  • #4 is what concerns me the most. The instant gratification culture is all well and good until you realize that some things require forward planning and work and you don't have the skills, tools and experience to plan ahead.Great post.

  • Anonymous

    If "Quality of life is the new currency" then it is quantity which is the measure of quality. And this confused quality is the measure of value. In this way the all mighty dollar still reign’s supreme for one is judged by their monetary ability to afford the quantity which ever creates quality. We live now in a consumer driven society which, as you’ve noted, is concerned more with ever expanding experience than with vocational commitment (or any commitment for that matter). The problem with your embracement of the information age is that in fact it does not strengthen the quality of ones knowledge, relationships, or values. In fact it reduces the quality of these precisely because the new consumer does not value quality but instead values experience and sensations which has been superimposed as quality of life. Therefore, your right to argue that the hording and accumulation of wealth and material things is not, on the surface, the goal of the postmodern age, however, the fulfillment of sensation is. Zygmount Bauman puts it this way, “Consumers are first and foremost collectors of sensations.” Thus, our world still requires us to collect, quantity is still king, only were no longer collecting material objects were collecting sensations and one is judged by their ability to incorporate this consumer role.

  • Well said, friend. Well said.

  • Maurilio,re publishers: you're correct in that they have to cater to those that have left the simple joy of picking up a book, plastering a butt to a comfy chair, and reading late into the night. God told Elijah He had 7,000 that hadn't bowed their knees to Baal. well there are millions that haven't bowed to Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and/or YouTube. Let's not forget employers: There have always been bohemians roaming the earth seeking relationships, causes and pleasure before a career. I was one of those. For every bohemian there are two straight-laced that will gladly take the job. Hippies didn't rule the world, although they made an impressionable impact.Now, for educators, pastors, and parents: sadly everything you said is what they should have been doing all along. educators should have been helping students think and reason instead of craming knowledge down their throats for the sake of grades. Pastors/speakers should have taken the example of Jesus and been teaching, expounding on "the great epic story of faith" and providing their testimonies of God's grace and providence. That's what people have wanted long before now. And parents, if they haven't been instilling strong moral and ethical codes into their children from birth as we're counseled to do, they need their hands spanked. It seems to me that God is allowing the "new" visually social world to come about to slap us out of our stupor and grasp what He's been telling us from the jump. Thanks for aiding the cause.

  • This is great! Thanks for reposting.
    I also agree that Pastors, Educators and Parents should have been doing this even before all the 'new' technologies arrived.

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  • Some interesting points here, but I am left with the feeling that we need to take the discussion deeper. Just blogged a response: see: “new comms are…”

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