From this week’s reading…
“At ‘Cooker Bar & Grille’ in Columbus, Ohio, one evening in the mid-1980’s, ten of us filled a big long booth for dinner. We had all become new acquaintances at a recent party thrown by a bunch of unattached, high-achieving career women who worked obsessively at the corporate headquarters of ‘The Limited.’ For a decade, these workaholic ladies had seldom taken time to socialize but finally declared enough! They threw a Wednesday evening poolside party at a condo complex, telling each other to invite any guy friends they knew on the theory that ‘one woman’s trash might be another woman’s treasure.’ A buddy of mine overheard their party-planning discussion at a T.G.I. Friday’s restaurant and phoned me on their behalf to invite me, adding, ‘They’ll probably even welcome a guy like you.’ Hmmm. I went to the party and promptly befriended a gaggle of dynamic women, as well as a couple of the guys who had come.
Soon after the party came that night at ‘Cooker’ with the ten of us. The restaurant booth seemed too long for a group conversation, so we splintered into mini-chats. I found myself sitting across the booth from one of the guys who had attended the party, a local architect who is about fifteen years my senior. I don’t even remember what we were discussing, but at one point I said to him, ‘You know, Pat, I’ll bet you and I feel differently about this topic because you and I came of age during different times.’
As he and I explored that thought, the other talk around the booth gradually came to a halt, as the other members of the group first listened and then wanted to weigh in on our discussion. When they did, the conversation ignited.
What followed were several hours of explosive and riveting discussion, all of it coming from a point of view none of us had ever considered and knew a thing about.
MY generation! YOUR generation!
My generation believes THIS! Well, mine believes THAT!
Well, I think your generation is wrong! Well, I think we’re right!
At the end of the evening, I left the restaurant scratching my head and asking myself, ‘What the heck just happened in there?’”
Friends, it is no secret that the Intramuralist deeply desires to promote and encourage interactive, respectful dialogue. We wish to be a humble part of the solution, encouraging the consideration of those points of view we don’t know a thing about.
That said, I find myself pondering the plethora of communication obstacles that impede respectful dialogue… surely it’s more than Democrats vs. Republicans… Jews vs. anti-Semites… chickens vs. chicken-eaters on Capitol Hill… more than just those perceived cultural pittings which garner the most (and often, too-much) attention.
This past week I finished a great book recommended by a wise friend which offered increased insight in that area: “The Generational Imperative” by Chuck Underwood. Truthfully, it’s an area I have never pondered quite so thoughtfully.
Underwood is an author, speaker, teacher, trainer, and former ESPN college play-by-play announcer. He is also considered an eminent authority in generational study. Sharing nuggets such as…
The Silent Generation — those born between 1927-1945 — is described as “the generation born too late to be World War II heroes and too soon to immerse themselves in the social activism of the 1960s.”
The Boomers — born between 1946-1964 — they are the generation that, as Silent Frank Kaiser wrote, “squeezes life for all generations.” They like to think that they are always still young.
Gen Xers — born between 1965-1981 — is a smaller generation, very individualistic, and the first generation that grew up with a distrust of previously trusted, societal institutions.
And the Millenials — born between 1982 and into the mid 2000s — (don’t call them “Gen Y”) — is massive. They are also the most adult-supervised generation, pretty pessimistic about the country’s direction, and feel tons of educational/grade pressure.
[Info on Gen Z is still being formulated.]
Friends, these are mere snippets of info, but the reality is that there is significant variance between generations in regard to what they value, how they work, and how they communicate, and thus, how best to communicate with them. Generational differences are not about right vs. wrong or better vs. worse. Once more, it’s about learning how to respect and communicate with those who are different than we.
Stay tuned for part 2 on Wednesday.