This post on writing for baby boomers - my own generation - is the second in the series on how to write for different generations.
As I point out in my book, Write Now and my post, Know Your Audience, shape the style and tone of your message to fit the audience. Today’s diverse workplace includes business people of all ages with different communication styles. To be effective you should know how to communicate with traditionalists, baby boomers, generation X and generation Y or millennials.
The first post in this series looked at writing for traditionalists.
Traditionalists are a small but influential segment of the workforce. Some of their most important qualities are being company focused, dedicated, experienced, frugal, patient, and task oriented. They like to use memos in their business communication. They prefer a formal writing style.
Now let's look at writing for baby boomers. Baby boomers like myself represent about 25% of the US population today. It's evenly divided between male and female. In 2011, Wikipedia reported that almost half of baby boomers are going to wait to retire. Also, a quarter of them say they’ll never retire, including me.
In writing for baby boomers, I propose the same five questions I used in my post on writing for traditionalists.
What is their background?
Baby boomers were born between 1946 and 1964. Sometimes referred to as the “Me” generation, many baby boomers were radicals in the 1960s and then yuppies in the 1980s. Early in their careers, baby boomers were often driven and known as workaholics - exactly as I was. Now they look for a more healthy balance between their personal life and work. Many are focused on personal growth and changing for the better.
What qualities do they have?
When writing for baby boomers, here is a list of typical qualities that I can easily identify with.
- A qualities
adaptive, ambitious, anti-war
- C qualities
competitive, collaborative, communicative
- E qualities
educated, efficient, ethical
- I qualities
idealistic, involved, interested in making a difference
- P qualities
peer loyal, politically correct, positive
- R qualities
rebellious, results-oriented, risk taker
What kind of business communication do they like to use?
Just like traditionalists, baby boomers prefer to talk face-to-face. They also prefer to use the telephone over other means of communication. Also, baby boomers are not quite as proficient in using computers or mobile phones as younger generations. I may be considered atypical in my passion for using the latest technology when I write and teach. (It helps having generation X players on my team.)
How do they like to be treated?
Similar to traditionalists, baby boomers like to be respected for their work experience and age. They want to be recognized and acknowledged for what they’ve accomplished. Generally speaking, they do not like conflict. Baby boomers do not easily accept change in the workplace. Keep in mind they are often self-centered.
What is their communication style?
When writing for baby boomers, remember they like the personal approach and friendly rapport. They're good at seeing the big picture. They don’t like manipulative language. They like well-planned messages with no grammatical mistakes. Women make up 50% of baby boomers. So it’s important to avoid sexist language when writing for baby boomers.
Look for my post coming soon on "5 Things You Need to Know When Writing For Generation X."