We are enjoying a visit with a 22-year old member of our family, from out of town. He's a smart guy, in his third year of university. Curious about the world around him and pretty perceptive overall. In generational terms he fits smack in the middle of "Generation Y", also called the "Millenials". There have been tomes written about his generation, interpreting all manner of research studies over the years.
We've had some great conversations and he's afforded us a peak through his window on the world. Fascinating. The absence of technology for anyone older than Gen Y has given us a whole different vocabulary. Like postage.
We were talking about a card that arrived in the mail, and he had no idea that the postage to get it here was the number on the stamp of the envelope. He asked me how much the stamp cost and how we knew. I explained the concept of postage and the differing value depending on origin and destination. He asked me how much more than the stamp postage cost. It was not something in his reality. His is a generation driven by technology in every way. "Snail mail" letters are not just a thing of the past, they are a thing that doesn't exist in current vocabulary. His birthday wishes come as e-cards or e-mails, his Mother's Day wishes are a phone call or a text, and all his banking is done online, no checks mailed to cover a payment.
I learned a lot from this short conversation and haven't stopped thinking about it since. His view on the world is no lesser or greater than mine - it's just different. Nothing can be taken for granted. If you are a boss, colleague or teacher of someone with a different generational imprint than you, listen, be patient and seek to understand. Look at the world from the outside-in, and it may reveal some new opportunities you'd miss if you march ahead, looking only through the window you know.