At our student staff meeting last night at the Miami University Recreational Sports Center, we were having a discussion on how to take proper messages either from customers in person or on the phone. Right in the middle of the discussion, I postulated why this is an issue (I always want to know why).
These students have always known a world where each member of their family had their own mobile phone. They probably were never tasked with answering the landline phone in their house on behalf of a family member who wasn’t there. They probably never had to tell their dad that his boss called and he needs to know a certain piece of information by 6pm tonight. They probably never had to record what time the person called, who it was, what they wanted, and the desired next step. Most people are individually connected, so communication is direct, without the middle man or middle woman.
As I told the staff, back in the day when I was answering our rotary landline phone at our house without air conditioning, running water, or a sewer (only some of this an exaggeration), if I did not take down important information, this could be a major issue for my parents if they missed something. We were taught and drummed into our heads to answer the phone professionally and take down all details. I remember being in a panic if pencil or paper was not within reach of how far the phone line could stretch from the wall (yes kids, phone has cords). Because of sloppy handwriting, I often had to rewrite the note so my dad could read it (he of the immaculate handwriting and impatience with sloppy writing).
The winds of change continue to amaze me, and it obvious to me on a daily basis how dangerous assumptions are dealing with youngsters. It helps keep me on my toes and develop a diversity of communication styles to get messages across. Sometimes I nail it, and sometimes I bomb terribly, but I always learn from it.
I would love to hear any similar stories you have about the generation gaps.
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