Families are diverse because they contain a multitude of people from different generations. Improving communication between family generations ensures that no information gets lost or misinterpreted. Communicating is also a great way to strengthen bonds with older family members you might not get to talk to as often.
Generations and Their Preferred Communication Method
A fast way to improve your communication with family members of other generations is to learn how that generation prefers to communicate. Conversations differ among family members, and therefore it’s a good idea to know how they most like to have a conversation.
- Baby Boomers
- Formal and direct communication
- Phone or face-to-face
- Gen X
- Informal communication
- Text, email, and Facebook
- Authentic and fast communication
- Text, email, and Facebook
- Gen Z
- Transparent and visual communication
- Social media channels, text, and FaceTime
Learn Each Form of Communication
When you communicate with someone, some methods are better than others. Depending on what you want to talk about, the delivery method will vary. Below are appropriate methods of communication for different contexts:
- Phone call: long emotional conversations that go into detail
- Email: brief or instructional content
- Text: informal socializing or announcements
- Video call: longer, more difficult conversations
Individualize the Person
Regardless of the family member’s generation or the purpose of the conversation, they still might prefer a different method. If you are unsure how to communicate with them, it never hurts to ask; they may even appreciate that you did. You might not realize that grandma prefers to speak to her grandkids through her safety watch for seniors when she can’t talk to them in person. Be respectful of the other person’s values and always try to use their preferred communication method over your own.
Mirror the Communication Method
When someone contacts you through one of the above methods, it is best to respond in the same manner. You never want to lose essential information by moving the conversation to a different platform. Keep it consistent so everyone can be on the same page.
Stay Willing to Learn and Listen
Because no conversation or delivery method is the same, be patient when listening. Consider every variable; you may even learn something new about the person you’re talking to. Refusing to communicate in different ways weakens the bonds you create with family members.
It is OK if your first try at communicating through one of these methods does not go according to plan. Improving communication between family generations is not linear and can change over time. Always be willing to listen to the person and be patient. Not everyone can communicate and verbalize on the same level.