In my book, Write Now, I say that good communication starts with knowing your audience. Suppose you have to write to an older individual (notice I don`t use the word "old.") It's someone you could call a traditionalist. The Generational Imperative calls them the "Silent" generation.
In my post, Know Your Audience, I describe traditionalists as those born before 1946. To get your message right when writing for traditionalists, ask yourself these five questions.
What is their background?
Traditionalists are in their late 60s or early 70s. These business people make up only a small portion of the workforce. But they may be an executive leader of a large or established company.
What qualities do they have?
Traditionalists work hard and have strong basic values. When writing for traditionalists, here are list of qualities to keep in mind. They begin with six different letters to make them easier to remember.
- C qualities
competent, confident, and company-focused
- D qualities
dedicated, detail-focused, and disciplined
- E qualities
ethical, experienced, and expecting responsible behavior from others
- F qualities
faithful to the company, family-minded and frugal (they don't like to waste money)
- P qualities
patient, patriotic and past-focused
- T qualities
tactful, trusting of authority, and task-focused
What kind of business communication do they like to use?
When writing for traditionalists, remember they prefer to use memos and handwritten notes. They like personal interaction and communicating one to one.
How do they like to be treated?
In the workplace, traditionalists look for respect because of their age and experience. They like to avoid conflict as much as possible. They appreciate logic and structure. So traditionalists expect others to be logical and structured. They also like their feelings to be considered. They prefer the personal touch when writing letters, such as using pen and paper.
What is their communication style?
When writing for traditionalists, remember these points. They prefer formal writing. They expect correct language and proper grammar. They show strong dedication to the company. So they prefer to use words such as we and us. They also like to focus on procedure in their communication.
Look for my next post on "5 Things You Need to Know When Writing For Baby Boomers."