I find it a little unnerving when the results of those things ring true, I want to resist the notion that I can be so easily defined based on the representative question of whether or not my perfect weekend involves excessive drinking (duh). important aside: for research purposes, I took the “what movie is your life” quiz. Footloose. So am I Kevin Bacon or Lori Singer or Sara Jessica Parker?
But there are those times and tools when I feel pegged, like I’m really not the inimitable radical that I fancy myself to be. I think it’s about knowing yourself, though. If you can’t honestly answer questions on a tool like the Myers Briggs, you’re not going to come up with a personality type that resonates. As hard as it is to resist the urge to respond as who you want to be rather than as who you are, there is really no point in adorning yourself with some idol’s personality. Not if you really want to discover something about yourself.
I recently attended a workshop about communication across generations, and I experienced that “whoa” factor when hearing about the values and preferred communication styles presumed to define me based only on the era in which I was born, my age group, aka Generation X:
- Works better alone
- Expects swift communication
- Wants to be heard
- Values the entrepreneurial spirit, loyalty, independence & creativity
- Appreciates and expects access to information
- Likes feedback and uses it to adapt
- Works smarter, not harder
- Wants to be kept in the loop
- Responds to an informal style of communication
It’s hard to imagine that these descriptors do not apply to everyone in the world though, right? They seem so commonplace to me, so universally human. But then we talked about the complications we sometimes face in communicating with our parents and grandparents, and with college students. People who maybe lived through the depression, and others who were born after 19-freaking-80. When you think about it, it seems impossible that we'd all identify with the same Facts of life character.
Consider the perspective of someone who had to tune in for the nightly news to receive a polished report about selected developments in the ongoing war; compared with that of the person watching the events of September 11th unfold alongside the confused and terrified media.
What if you wanted to call your spouse to tell him something important, but he was not at home, so you just didn’t get to tell him. Or you have to leave a message on his huge, clunky answering machine that will be recorded onto an actual cassette tape.
I take the ability to text, voicemail, and generally track my husband for granted, but these innovations have developed over the course of my lifetime. College students have never experienced a delay in communication. They have no frame of reference for a scenario in which their message will not be heard.
It’s easy to get all grandmotherly about this kind of thing, to squawk about: “kids these days” and how they have it so easy. But I’m not so sure that they do. They’ve got nowhere to hide from the constant influx of information. They’ve had an unobstructed, front row seat to Colombine, Oklahoma City, Iraq, and God help us, the legacy of George W. Bush. Anything could happen, at any time, and they’re going to live for the moment. We’ve made sure to stroke their egos, to boost their self esteem, to ensure that everyone’s a winner and everyone gets a trophy. Isn't it our onus to figure out how to talk with this legacy we've created?
I think we can all just get along, we just need to find some common ground. What better way to start than by finding out What color crayon are you?