Observation: Generations Are Different

This week is Thanksgiving. For me, it is time to spend with family and friends. As part of preparations for Thanksgiving, my wife started the self-cleaning setting on the oven. The smell of that working, just drove me out of the house. So, I went to my usual spots that offer free wifi by the house (Starbucks and Basha’s). I had plenty of time to sit and observe people. I enjoy people watching!

Today was an outstanding day for it. At the local Starbucks there were lines both in the drive thru and inside. I just sat and watch the interaction around me. Since the lines were not going down (more people just kept coming in), I went to a different area of the shopping center, Basha Grocery. Another place that was pretty full in the sitting area. I pulled up a spot on the counter and observed there. What I was watching was the different generations and how they go about their morning routine.

Inside Starbucks, they were pretty full with generation X and Y folks. A few boomers were in the house, but very few. Watching the folks interact definitely demonstrates the difference within the generation. Most of the X’ers were busy discussing with each other how long the lines were, how much they were looking forward to Thanksgiving and how bad the economy and the political leadership was doing. There were a few of them busy working away on their laptops. I noticed email mostly.  The Y’s were busy too, they did not share many words with anyone. They were busy using their smart phones to stay on top of things. In fact, one mother said to her daughter, “will you put that thing down, all you ever do is use that thing 24×7.” The reply back was pretty good, “well, you are communicating with your friends and so am I – they are just not here.”

When I was in Basha’s, the crowd was definitely different. The folks that hang out there in the morning are mostly baby boomers. They were drinking their Starbucks and having donuts. They spent most of their time talking with whoever passed by. Many of them were sitting by themselves and were just reading the paper or sitting in silence until someone walked by. It was definitely a gathering place for them. Their conversations were centered on health, family and worries about social security.

When you are out and about, take some time to just observe people. Look at the difference of folks, like age, and how they interact differently. This will help you interact better with them. When I was in Basha’s, I said hello a lot. I needed to be prepared to have discussions with folks that I just did not know. We talked about everything and anything. In Starbucks, it was bit different. For most of the folks, they just looked at me and moved on with their morning routine. For the some of the Y’s, they would see my laptop and smart phone, and would stop to say hi. I just needed to have some of their “toys” to seem to fit in.

Communicating with the different generations is sometimes difficult. When I was with the boomers (my peeps), they settled to hear a bit but their stories were really good. The generation X folks, they were the one group that did not open up. They pretty much kept to themselves. For the generation Y folks, they opened up pretty easy (once they saw my toys) and we had some really good technology discussions. They focused on what I use, what they use and were open to trying new things. Overall, it was a great morning!