It may feel like there’s an excess of communication channels these days (don’t worry, we think so too). Even with all the apps, messaging options, and social media sites, some of us still can’t agree on the age-old “calling versus texting” debate. Regardless of the dinner table arguments this concept may catalyze, it’s thrilling to live in a world that is so connected, even if it isn’t always as simple as face-to-face communication or a good old fashioned hand-written letter.
In this article, we’ll cover how exactly the texting versus phone calls debate evolved with the technology surrounding it, the generational gap, and tips to communicate with each of the generations without getting blocked or becoming a victim of cancel culture.
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The Context/Communication Overload
We’ve all heard the cliché “communication is key”, often demonstrating that communication is the key to success in relationships, work, and many other areas of life. Modern-day cell phone technology can feel like standing outside a locked door, shuffling through a jam-packed keyring, making it impossible to find which one matches the lock. The options are no longer “text” or “call”; there are also social media direct messages (DMs), comments, messenger apps, and video calls. It can be bewildering choosing between so many options! Since the early 2000s, cell phones have evolved from a cool way to keep in touch on the go to super powerful mini-computers that live in the back-pockets of everyone we know. Since we all have cell phones, we are expected to be accessible…all the time.
Social media and communication companies saw this opportunity and ran with it. Now, there are a multitude of options to text, email, Facebook, Snapchat, Slack, and Tweet the same person in under a minute. Is that more efficient than just calling the person? Probably not, but we won’t tell the tech giants that.
The generational gap, or differences in outlook and opinion between generations, manifests itself in the texting versus calling debate. It affects us all, from grandparents wanting to talk to grandkids to bosses unable to communicate effectively (or respectfully). It’s more important than ever to improve communication between generations, especially when we are earnestly trying to understand each other. Right now, we’re losing the ability to communicate because we can’t agree on how to communicate!
Have a similar experience with the communication gap? Feel free to let us know in the comments!
The What & The Why – How Did We Get Here?
As younger people began joining the workforce, the major difference in communication styles quickly caused an uproar. Some articles even claimed that Gen Z workers refused to make phone calls in the office due to social anxiety. Others, however, claimed baby boomers were being phased out because they couldn’t keep up with the technical requirements of everyday interaction. It seemed like everyone had something to say, but no one was actually communicating, causing the generational gap to grow even wider.
The key difference in said gap lies is how each generation views the power of their mobile phones. Baby boomers and Gen X (mostly) see cell phones as a communication tool. Millennials and Gen Z are more likely to see the phone as an extension of themselves. Older generations are quick to poke fun at the younger folks who are “glued to their phones,” but when you think about it, it makes sense with the world they grew up in. Gen Z and millennials use the phone as a communication tool, too, but it also often functions as their wallet, camera, email platform, map, bank, and an online extension of their personality.
When so much of our lives seem to take place on the internet, it makes sense that younger generations are prioritizing digital communication.
The How – Improving Communication
One of the best ways to improve communication between generations is generational awareness. This means taking a few minutes to learn about what shaped each generation and how they interact with the world. We’ve listed a couple of tips on how to communicate with each generation below:
If it’s possible, have a face-to-face conversation. Boomers prefer to handle situations directly and with the person involved with the issue at hand. There is no need for eight emails when one simple in-person conversation will suffice.
If face-to-face is not an option, make an effort and call them up! Older generations prefer talking on the phone, especially compared to text messages or email.
Like the Baby Boomers, Gen X prefers direct communication, but they don’t necessarily need to see your face. A phone call is a perfectly good way to talk for most of this generation.
They also don’t mind text and email! This generation entered the workforce early enough to be more than competent with most communication technology. Don’t expect to see them on Snapchat, though.
All the rumors are true… A 2022 survey shows more than half of Millennials prefer texting to calling. And they hate phone calls (especially unexpected ones)–many studies show that phone calls are one of the most dreaded activities. Help them out and just send a text!
Surprisingly, Millennials are grouped in with the Boomers when it comes to face-to-face communication. Many millennials prefer in-person conversations to phone calls, both in their personal and professional lives.
Surprising no one, the digital whiz kids prefer to communicate almost exclusively through technology. They have a strong preference for texting services and social media apps.
Gen Z expects quick responses when communicating and are likely to respond just as quickly. Since they have been online most of their lives, they are constantly communicating and available…at least via text.
Obviously, everyone has the freedom to communicate in the way that suits them best, but it can’t hurt to mix it up to connect with other generations. Younger generations will prioritize technology because it’s what they’ve always known, while older gens might stick to their guns with phone calls and face-to-face interactions.
Regardless, effective communication is one of the best ways to bridge the generational gap. If you like this guide and want more information about how to improve communication between generations, you’ll love our free weekly newsletter. Do you have tips on communicating through the generational gap? Leave a comment below!