Writing for generation X is the third post in our series about writing for today's workforce. With its mix of generations, the modern workplace is filled with people of all ages. So to get your message right it's important to be aware of different communication styles.
I know the topic of writing for generation X firsthand because Craig, my partner at Business English HQ, is a Gen Xer. Did you know that Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, is Gen Xer as well?
In the first post of this series, we looked at writing for traditionalists. Older business people are experienced and dedicated. They prefer to use memos and their writing style tends to be formal.
The second post looked at the communication style of baby boomers. Their generation makes up the biggest part of the workforce. They are typically idealistic and interested in making a difference. Baby boomers like the personal touch. They prefer face-to-face communication and using the phone.
Here are five questions to ask yourself when writing for generation X.
What is their background?
Gen X business people were born between the mid-60s and the early 80s. According to Wikipedia, American Gen Xers have the highest education levels in the workforce. They like to be independent and informal in the workplace. They enjoy having fun at what they're doing - I know my partner Craig does. They are good at working with the latest information technology.
What qualities do they have?
When writing for generation X, keep in mind this list of typical qualities. Many of them describe "to a T" (exactly) my cool partner Craig.
- A qualities
active, adaptive to change, anti-authority
- D qualities
direct communicator, dynamic leader, diversified
- F qualities
flexible, focused on results, fun loving
- I qualities
independent, individual, informal
- S qualities
skeptical, self-reliant, self-starter
- T qualities
task-focused, techno-savvy, time poor
What kind of business communication do they like to use?
The cell phone comes at the top of the list. Gen Xers are wizards at using e-mail and other forms of electronic communications, such as their smart phone. So email is their favorite communication tool. It is not surprising that they like immediate and direct feedback.
How do they like to be treated?
Gen Xers like to be given space and freedom. They also enjoy flexibility in their work and schedule. They expect those they deal with to work smartly and efficiently. They prefer short meetings with clearly defined goals. They are not workaholics. So don't expect them to go beyond the call of duty, as baby boomers would normally do.
What is their communication style?
When writing for generation X, be direct and straightforward in your communication. Get the point quickly and don't waste their time. They prefer informal communication, so avoid jargon with them. Gen Xers like having the facts tied in with results. They are multi-taskers too.
So what do you think Craig? Are you a typical Gen Xer?
Look for my post coming soon on "5 Things You Need to Know When Writing For Generation Y."