How to Relate to a Generation Y

Read how to keep peace with the old and new generation by gaining insight into how the Generation Y's are accustomed to learning and receiving information.

With my oldest home from college this weekend, I noticed how frequently my very confident Gen Y criticized me regarding the speed in which I mastered just about any electronic task such as completing a Google Search, or looking for a photo on my iPhone.  

The teasing never seemed to let up. It even followed me into my car while I attempted to increase the volume of my GPS by centralizing the speaker sound of the radio rather than adjusting the intensity of the navigation prompt. I tried to blame my son for making me nervous, but my argument did not hold up with my other precious teen in the car. I now had two of them laughing at me for driving the car every day for 3 years, and still not knowing the difference between the radio and the navigation controls. 

It is at least a relief to know that our differences are simply a product of the times. Generation Y, with birth dates spanning from 1982-2003, will always rule over the baby boomers when it comes to technology.

I am all too familiar with this generation from my work related experiences. I have found that the biggest gap between the old and new generation is not really the lack of interpersonal communication skills as one would think, but the inability to conceptualize (and tolerate) a process when considering a means to an end. There is no need for background information to introduce a story, there is no need to take notes when receiving instructions because you can just look it up later, and certainly no need to stop by anywhere in person when you can email or text.  To help those of you in an age diverse work environment, I have outlined some characteristics of a Gen Y below, including some tips on how to relate.

   Characteristics of a Gen Y:

  • Entitled
  • Difficult to manage in the work place
  • Least loyal generation (will have 6-8 jobs by the time they are 30)
  • Enjoys humor and irony
  • Strong written communication

   How to Communicate with a Gen Y

  • Use visually rich messages
  • Communicate in small chunks
  • Keep well stimulated   

   What the Gen Y’s Need to Learn from the Baby Boomers:

  • How they are contributing to a whole process as opposed to completing an isolated task
  • Persistence
  • Perspective Taking 

   Qualities to take advantage of:

  • Many capabilities
  • Lots of energy
  • Leaders in social networking
  • Can easily generalize their skills to new forms of technology


Judith Rosenfield, M.A., CCC-SLP

Owner/Director King's Speech and Learning Center

"For School, Job and Social Success"



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