Communication Style Generation Gap

Communication styles have evolved. Most of us were taught the proper way to introduce ourselves is a hearty handshake with eye-to-eye contact. In the 60’s, the hippies started the trend of greeting each other with a two-finger peace sign and the 90’s brought on the ‘Bro fist bump. Today we’re lucky to get a “hey” with a split-second glance up from a phone. 

How have we changed so drastically in such a short time? The obvious answer is electronics – smart phones and tablets. The positive impact of having the world at our fingertips negatively affects face-to-face communication. We are moving away from a society that physically spends time together. Group chat rooms, texts and tweets are replacing conversations around a table. The good thing about this trend is it eliminates multiple phone calls, miscommunications, and being able to join in the conversation on your own time. The negative impact is constant phone interruptions, isolation, and lack of social skills.  

I recently sat down (at a table) and had a conversation with our Chicago sales representative, Jim Gryzlak. Last month he flew to Dallas to visit a customer. The buyer was happy to meet with him and expressed her frustration with her vendors – they rarely visit to have a face-to-face conversations and their product knowledge is very limited. She said she doesn’t expect an expert – but someone who’s willing to find the answers.

We all need to be challenged to get out from behind our desk and talk to people. Instead of googling an answer, ask someone. Have lunch without your phone. Walk a trade show and approach a booth. Start up a conversation with a stranger waiting in line at the grocery store. You probably have more in common than you think!