Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Culture shock. Working with someone from a different generation.

Stuart McDaniels,
Materials Manager
I’ve recently had the opportunity to work alongside a member of the Millennial Generation. Being a member of Generation X, the experience was certainly an eye opener for me. First of all, I understand just how dated all my references have become and my love for 80’s music is definitely not shared by everyone. Through this association, I have also come to understand just how much I do not know and how much I need to continue to learn and grow.

Most of my co-workers are around the same age as me.  We share a lot of the same interests and similar histories so it is easy to relate and work with these individuals. Working closely with someone who is much younger than me has shown me I need to better understand that age group and how to interact. It’s difficult because even though we are from the same geographical area we are really from two different cultures and two different points in time. We see the world differently and have had different types of life experiences. This became painfully obvious to me during a discussion about politics recently. I brought up President Ronald Reagan and then had the sudden realization this person had not even been alive during the Reagan Administration and may have difficulty relating to the point I was trying to make due to the reference I was using.

The trick for me was finding a way to reach that individual where they lived. As Millennials age and begin to interrelate with our businesses more, we will need to understand how to reach them as an industry. Memorialization is critical to the overall health of our industry. Does memorialization mean the same to them as it does to us? Does it have the same importance? How do we educate them as to the significance of memorialization to the industry we are in and the families we serve? I encourage you to engage with the younger generation to better understand them and how they think.

As you do, be aware of your own weaknesses, lack of knowledge, and possibly even biases, and work to improve. As we begin to hand the torch to this group it is important for us to find a way to effectively communicate ideas and visions to them in a manner they can relate to so they can carry on the essential work of educating people regarding the importance of memorialization.

This article originally appeared in Modern Memorialization, Trigard Memorials' weekly electronic newsletter featuring information for the funeral industry. Sign up for your free subscription at

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