One Life-Changing Lesson Members of the “Gen X” Club Can Teach “Gen Y” and “Gen Z”

Dawn Bevier

You know technology, but we know people. And our skill may be just what you need to make your personal and professional life amazing.

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Image by Dean Moriarty on Pixabay

You darlings. You last letters of the “age alphabet”. You sweet babes labeled “Gen Y” and “Gen Z.” As a member of “Gen X,” I realize you have amazing advantages over me and my middle-aged companions. And I envy a lot of your skills and abilities.

For example, sometimes I wonder if my lack of technological skills and come-and-go connection to social media will be the death (or at least a cause of stagnation) in my career and in my life as a whole.

I blunder through this technological culture you call “home” like an infant, stumbling, holding on to tables and chairs for security as I try to march forward and remain viable in the world you navigate so easily.

However, there are a few things you fantastic wizards of this new age can learn from my generation. And the good news is, when you combine your technical prowess with the wisdom of my generation, you can skyrocket your happiness and prosperity.

So, let me fill you in on one of “Gen X’s” most valuable insights: the irrefutable importance of face to face interactions.

Let me explain.

Face to face interaction is the only real way to know the truth.

Business Insider reports that “ the average Gen Z got their first smartphone just before their twelfth birthday.” They also state that “[Gen Z] communicate primarily through social media and texts.”

And yes, I know that these mediums of communication save time. But the efficiency you gain may sometimes come with downsides, namely less authentic communication with others and unintended bad reactions from the people you value most in your personal and professional life.

How?

Anyone can say anything behind the safety screen of a phone or computer.

And how are you to know from these typed words another sends you whether the person is true and sincere, whether his or her words are sarcastic or serious, whether his or her emotional outpourings on these mediums come from long arduous thinking or are simply violent emotional outbursts borne of a bad day or a sudden impulse?

You can’t truly know these answers.

But if you discuss things face to face, you can see that their words uttered may be impulsively irrational. You can divine whether or not their truths are actually lies or vice-versa.

How?

The body never lies, even though words can. Especially words that never have to be spoken in a face-to-face scenario.

For example, people may tell you online or in a text that they love you. Or your work. And you may believe it. But if they were forced to stand before you and say it, you might notice that they can’t make eye contact, that they pause a bit too long when you ask an important question, and that their posture and body language speak a different truth.

They may text you that you did a great job on your latest work endeavor, and roll their eyes as they type or snicker at their own lie. A lie that you undoubtedly believe because, after all, they texted it or sent it in an email.

And you will never really know the truth, will you? That is unless you look them in the eyes through face to face conversation.

But what about the messages you send to another via text, email, or other form of social media? This issue lends itself to another important piece of wisdom we “Gen X’s” can give to you to make your life better.

The wisdom?

Don’t text or email when you have important words to deliver.

People respect you more when you confront them face to face.

Face to face interaction breeds respect.

For instance, my son recently got a “break up text” from his girlfriend of four years. Call me a “fossil” if you will, but to send a message this important or emotionally wounding over a phone or computer is not only disrespectful, it is cowardly.

So, when you have an important message to give another in the realm of personal or professional arenas, don’t do it over the phone. Don’t do it over the computer. It makes you seem like uncaring and timid.

And these are not the vibes you want to give off in your personal relationships or your career.

For example, say you are going thinking of leaving your job to embrace a new career opportunity.

Don’t email your employer to tell them this information.

Go to your supervisors. Look them in the eyes. Tell them how much you have enjoyed working for the company but how you need to pursue other avenues of employment due to financial strain or other personal matters. Let them see your genuineness, your emotional distress at having to make this decision, and your sorrow for the difficulties your leaving may create.

These human cues (that simply cannot be read in a text or email) will engender respect in the person with whom you interact.

After all, as much as they may not like the news you give, they cannot ignore the fact that you were brave enough to give them the unpleasant news face to face. Nor can they deny the fact that you made a hard (but honorable) choice when you decided to speak to them in person.

This decision to interact with them in a truly intimate way will relay your regard for them and let them know that they truly matter. That you care about the thoughts and feelings that they may experience when you deliver your message.

And when you show such consideration and fortitude, who knows what good results may occur? At the least, the likelihood improves that they will be valuable references when they receive calls from other employers concerning your work. At best, they may reward your actions with a counteroffer or a raise or higher position to make you want to stay.

And this is much less likely to happen if you send a text or email that makes them feel devalued and confused.

The bottom line

My Gen Y and Gen Z friends, you must remember the key to human relationships is making people feel important. And there is no quicker way to succeed in life or love than this simple skill.

And when you choose to avoid face to face interaction, you are indirectly telling a person that their worth or their business is not worth your time. And this unspoken message will be “heard” loud and clear. Trust me on this one.

So go ahead. Text a friend and tease him about his favorite team losing the Superbowl. Send a direct message on social media to your friend letting her know that you can’t make it for drinks after work. But for the “big things” in work and in relationships? Channel “Gen X” and meet him or her eye to eye.

It may be more painful and more time-consuming, but it is the only real way to connect with another human being.

I wish you the best of luck. You have so many great skills and if used properly, you can take this world by storm. Just don’t forget to add one on one, eye to eye communication into the picture.

I wish you luck and hey, maybe if you get the time, you can teach me how to “Snapchat,” right?

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Sanford, NC
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