The Silent Generation (aka Veterans) – Most Misunderstood and Underestimated Generation of All Time
No generation has been so misunderstood and underestimated. This generation brought us civil rights, an unparalleled national wealth in the arts and commerce, and unimaginable advances in science and technology! “Silents” are about 95% retired at this point. In a few short years virtually no “Silents” will command an industry, a battlefield, anything at all. They will have mostly gone well into the shadows. The Silent Generation also referred to as “Veterans” (mid-l920s – mid-1940s) Silentsare about 95% retired at this point. In a few short years virtually no “Silents” will command an industry, a battlefield, anything at all. They will have mostly gone well into the shadows. No generation has been so misunderstood and underestimated. This generation brought us civil rights, an unparalleled national wealth in the arts and commerce, and unimaginable advances in science and technology
Three theories about the origin of the label “Silent Generation”…
- This generation grew up when children “should be seen and not heard.”
- The assault on America’s political liberty by the House Committee on Un-American Activities in tandem with Senator Joseph McCarthy’s inquisitions scared the heck out of them. McCarthy whipped up anti-communist sentiment to such a degree that it was dangerous to express an opinion anywhere, about anything. People were going to jail for beliefs and affiliations held 20 or 30 years earlier. Free speech was all but dead. People became apolitical. Safe. Silent.
- The name Silent Generation was coined in a 1951 cover story in Time Magazine to refer to the generation coming of age at the time. The phrase became even more fashionable after author William Manchester’s comment that the members of this generation were “withdrawn, cautious, unimaginative, indifferent, unadventurous and silent.”
4 million Canadians over the age of 65 constitute 13% of the population, and 1 million of them, or 3%, are over age 80.
SOME CHARACTERISTICS OF Silents AT WORK
- Faith in institutions
- Respect for authority
- Responsibility before pleasure
- Social order
- Detail oriented
- Mediators and facilitators
- May not see “gray” – mostly black & white
- Assume “no news is good news”
- May sound parental
- Often complacent when they disagree
SOME MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT Silents:
Media Myth: More accidents and illness. Reality: They actually have fewer on-the-job accidents. Insurance claims are no different than for all workers.
Media Myth: Can’t learn technology. Reality: Silents are motivated students when training is done right (respectfully, with low stress).
Media Myth: Don’t want to work. Reality: Many prefer to be working past retirement, at least part time; job changing still carries a stigma for them.
Media Myth: Not as productive as younger workers. Reality: Surveys continue to report that older workers are every bit as productive as younger ones.
Media Myth: Not as smart as younger workers. Reality: Psychologists find that intelligence remains constant until at least age 70.
SOME RESULTS OF COLLISIONS BETWEEN Baby Boomers AND OTHER GENERATIONAL GROUPS
when a Boomer (mid 1940s to mid-1960s) collides, they think…
- Technological dinosaurs.
when a GenX (mid-1060s to late 1970s) collides, they think…
- Too set in your ways.
- Learn how to use voice mail.
- You got all the money.
when a GenY (1980s to 2000) collides, they think…
- Grumpy, grumpy, grumpy.
- Like, how is a nose ring so different from pierced ears? Hello… ?
- Learn how to use email. We are all individuals.
There are countless ways we differ in background, personality, values, preferences, and style. To make judgments about these differences (i.e., who is better), is illogical and meaningless. However, exploring generational diversity can help explain – and bridge – the sometimes-baffling differences behind our unspoken assumptions and at-odds attitudes.
Caution: Be careful to avoid reinforcing negative stereotypes. Generational differences are a start, not an end to understanding.