Effective Communication Across Generations

by Ruthie Boris, MA, CCC-SLP

Director of Rehabilitation at O’Neill Healthcare Middleburg Heights


Did you know that communication is 7% verbal, 55% body language, and 38% intonation? It is important to understand the different ways we communicate, especially when we’re talking to different generations.

 The definition of communication is “a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior, or an exchange of information.”

 One characteristic of communication is the common want to be spoken to in the same manner as you speak to your peers, using your full attention, engaging while listening, direct eye contact, and respect.

 Everyone matters, regardless of their age, what they look like, how they are dressed, married or not. You need to stop, be open and listen to what someone outside your generation has to say.


Communication Tips

  1. Consider your audience
  2. Be an engaged listener
  3. Be aware of different forms of communication
  4. Adapt your communication style
  5. Respect that values differ between generations
  6. Remember wisdom comes with age
  7. Listen how something is being said
  8. Be mindful of your body language when speaking & listening
  9. Be wary of sensitive topics, like religion and politics

 Have you ever wondered why your mom won’t stop calling you? Or why teens today speak exclusively in emoticons? Or your Dad STILL writes ‘Dear Vanessa’ in his text messages? Our society is currently comprised of seven generations, and communication across the generations is ever-changing in a multitude of ways, including but not limited to: social media, email, text, and telephone.

 Which way is the best way to communicate with each generation? Here’s a handy guide:

Generation Name



Means of Communicating

The Greatest Generation



Face to face is best, formal letter writing, ask questions, they like to share experiences

Traditionalists or
The Silent Generation



Telephone, face to face, speak to them with respect, use Mr. & Mrs.

Baby Boomers



Prefer face to face, email, honest & direct communicators

Generation X, Gen X



Prefer online communication via email & text, multi-taskers so think how to offer help

Millennials, Gen Y or Gen Next



Many prefer texting, be brief and to the point, tech dependent, problem solvers

Gen Z, iGen, or Centennials



Facetime, get to the point, short & sweet, well versed in technology since birth

Generation Snowflake



Social media

Keep in mind these are generational differences, but people also have a personal choice of communication. Make sure to ask your loved ones their preferred way to communicate. Often, these choices are ones they didn’t choose, but were raised with.

Reach out to us here for more information and tips, or give us a call at 440-808-5500.



Ruthie Boris, MA CCC-SLP, graduated with Master’s degree in speech language pathology in 1992 from University of Akron. Ruthie joined the O’Neill Healthcare team in 2021 as the Director of Therapy at O’Neill Healthcare Middleburg Heights. She’s a practicing speech language pathologist, primarily in skilled nursing facilities and a multidisciplinary leader for over 25 years. 

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