Flappers, Hippies, and . . . Millennials

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAMuAAAAJDBmYmFjOGJhLTk3NjQtNDZlZi04NDBkLWYwNTNhOTM0NmFmMA?We are the Younger Generation. The war tore away our spiritual foundations and challenged our faith. We are struggling to regain our equilibrium.?

This was written in 1922, by a ?flapper? named Ellen Welles Page. It would certainly hold true again if written by a hippie in the late 60s and early 70s, or if written by one of today?s young Millennials. Although we don?t think of Millennials as being radicals, they are certainly of a different mindset and are shaking up the business world as we know it.

Young people always want to change the world. When Boomers were hippies, they (we) saw the world from a vastly different perspective, one that could not trust anyone over 30. Now that they (we) are hovering around double that age, we wonder what is wrong with these young kids today. The truth is, they are just like us. In fact, they are mostly like they are because of the way we raised them. (More on that in another post.)

Flappers were essentially women who just wanted to be comfortable. They wore new hairstyles and clothing that was far less rigid and ?proper? than their mothers and grandmothers thought was appropriate. They developed their own language.

Hippies wore new hairstyles and clothing that their parents did not think proper. They developed their own language.

Millennials are trying to find their way in a corporate world that doesn?t fit them well. They developed their own language.

Generation gaps exist whenever a new generation approaches the age where they can speak up, have a voice, and be a factor in the world, particularly the business world. The greatest generation gaps have occurred in the 1920s, 1960s and early 70s, and today. How do we communicate with people who are so far from us, in age and in mindset?

We have to consider not only the mode of communication but the content as well. It?s no secret that everything is electronic in the world of the Millennial. They don?t understand why everyone can?t just text or tweet or communicate through social media. Older generations can?t understand why the younger set can?t just pick up a phone or sit in a face-to-face meeting. Beyond that, though, the language itself is different. And it will always be different.? Companies like Taco Bell have acknowledged this and have begun to encourage their young employees to share their Millennial words and the definitions through company communications.

What we have today is an extreme version of the generation gap, mostly because of the exponential speed of technological developments. However, it is a gap that can be bridged, with a little effort and a lot of understanding. Kids today are not simply trying to be belligerent; rather, they are trying to make the world their own, just as the flappers and the hippies did so many years ago.

In 1922, the flapper added:? ?I want to beg all you parents, and grandparents, and friends, and teachers, and preachers?you who constitute the ?older generation??to overlook our shortcomings, at least for the present, and to appreciate our virtues.?

Let?s take the time to understand all of the generations in the workplace today, including the newest Generation Z that will soon be a factor as well. We can bridge this gap . . . and the workplace will be a better place for it.

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