Last week I talked about how I think it’s key to understand the generalized perception of your generation to be prepared to push back against the barriers your generational membership may set up against you.
Since that time the Pew Research Center has published a 14 item quiz that will tell you how “Millennial” you are by comparing your answers with those of respondents to a scientific nationwide survey.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the process is the ability to compare your answers to those of other generations (including your own) and alter your answers to see the impact on your score. Spending some time reviewing the information, playing with your answers and contemplating the resulting changes will provide valuable insight as you learn about your generation and others. The key is to not entrench yourself in your assessment results – ‘I’m an 86 and you’re a 38! You’re old and will never understand me’ – but rather use the results as a starting point for a conversation about how you may or may not connect with friends, professors, parents, mentors and future/current employers.
The challenge last week was to understand the perception issues and challenges your generational membership places in front of you. This Pew Research Center quiz will help you. The next step is to use that knowledge to help build on your capabilities and demonstrate a level of engagement and understanding that will add value to your communities because of who you are, not despite it.
For example, some of my colleagues took the quiz last week. One colleague scored a 10 and referred to herself as a dinosaur. Certainly her generational experiences are very different than yours or even mine. Dismissing her expertise and knowledge because of generational differences would be a huge mistake however as she’s very knowledgeable and can make things happen. Rather, knowing the differences can help inform how you might need to re-frame your interactions and language when working with others who don’t shape or view their world in the same manner as you. I’m not going to reach out to my colleague on Facebook or Twitter, that’s just not how she operates. But if I send an email, call, or better yet, visit her office and focus on content areas in which she has (tremendous) expertise I’ll set both of us up for success.
How different generations view and approach the world is not wrong, it’s just different. And different can be good. Understanding the ‘generational place’ for you and others in those interactions and the perceptions/assumptions people make about your generation will help you add value to your communities because of who you are, not despite it.
What do you think? Make it a good day.
Mike Severy is the Director of Student Life at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. As a GenXer he scored an 86 on the How Millenial Are You? Quiz. Had he not contacted a government official for a speaker series he would have scored a 94. He views his work through the lens of student leadership development believing that students are developed over time through a series of meaningful experiences and that his role is to help students create and find the meaningful experiences in their lives. You can connect with Mike on Twitter (@MikeSevery).