By Chuck Violand
Cleanfax Magazine – May 2014
During a recent presentation to a group of cleaners and restorers, one of my co-presenters and good friends, Bill Yeadon, made reference to a song by Meat Loaf, a popular recording artist from the 1970s. Never being one to take Bill’s comments at face value, I decided to poll the class (many of whom were under thirty years old) to see how many knew that Meat Loaf was the name of a singer as well as the name of a food. To my amazement, the overwhelming majority actually did!
As you might imagine, the Meat Loaf episode got me thinking about communication challenges in and out of business. These challenges have become much more pronounced in recent years as multiple generations are coming together in the workforce. Humor is a classic example of the differences in generations. On more than one occasion, I have found myself watching a movie with my kids (all millennials) who are laughing up a storm about something someone said while I’m sitting there deadpan, not even realizing it was supposed to be funny!
While researching to find ways to help my readers bridge the communication gap that frequently exists in their companies and avoid those awkward “deer in the headlights” moments when you mention songs by Mungo Jerry or Marmalade, I came across what’s known as Beloit’s Mindset List.
Every August since 1998, Beloit College in Beloit, Wisconsin has published their Mindset List. Written by Ron Nief, former director of public affairs, and humanities professor Tom McBride, the list serves as a cheat sheet to help professors better understand the world views of the incoming freshman class. You might find it helpful in better communicating with the younger workers in your company, just as I did here at VMA.
A few of the more interesting items on the list:
- The term “Dude” has never had a negative tone
- Having a chat has seldom involved talking
- Gaga has never been baby talk
- A tablet is no longer something you take in the morning (editor’s note: or use a pencil to write on)
- Plasma has never been just a bodily fluid
- With GPS, they have never needed directions to get someplace, just an address
- Don Shula has always been a fine steak house (editor’s note: Miami fans, I feel your pain)
According to McBride, the list sparks conversations between generations on campuses and in homes. I think it can also be used to begin conversations between people in business. And since the list made no mention of terms like accountability, hard work, and profit, I assume those are still understood by every generation, regardless of age.
McBride says of this list, “It is an icebreaker. It’s a way of personalizing history.” Having been a history major myself, I completely agree.