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The Social Theory: Comparing Generations

Conflict based on age differences between the parties seems to be a timeless problem that constantly accompanies society. It will likely always be that older people, born and raised within the same era, will not understand the younger generation, whose moral attitudes and values may differ. Thus, the mores and social norms that seem relevant to today’s youth who grew up at the beginning of the 21st century will hardly be reflected in the representatives of future generations. Consequently, the conflict of ages has a permanent nature and, it is appropriate to say, is a looped reflection of the development of human thought. However, such contradictions should not become a reason for serious disputes and discussions, especially in the context of professional services. A qualified professional must remain open-minded and loyal to patients of all ages. This essay has discussed at length three different generations that have critical differences not only in age but also in their value systems and worldviews. Generation Y and Generation X were described in comparison to the author’s category of Generation Z. The essay discusses the key characteristics of each age category and makes a comparative analysis of them.

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The main distinguishing criterion that formed the basis of the theoretical systematization of age groups is the year of birth itself. It is fair to note that several different academic models use different temporal criteria to classify generations. Moreover, approaches to generational differentiation are different even for different cultures since it is known that European age frameworks are slightly shifted compared to Western ones. This paper supports the theoretical approach that Generation Z includes all individuals born after 1996. Generation Y, then, includes people born between 1977 and 1995. Finally, generation X, the oldest of them all, includes people whose year of birth falls between 1965 and 1976.

According to the basics of social theories of generations, there are serious differences between the different age groups. Representatives of Generation X are people of the post-war era, in which the world was entering an active phase of reconstruction (Dick, 2019). Therefore, the most striking features of such people are workaholism and the desire to work against idealistic goals and individual needs. The philosophical attitude of people of Generation Y — otherwise known as millennials — is different: they are children of the era of mass digitalization, so technology accompanies the entire life of millennials. A restored world and a well-established economy led to a highly competitive environment in which people of Generation Y grew up. As a result, they fight for their comfort and strive for individual results, which is why they are often referred to as overly self-centered (Dick, 2019). Finally, the youngest generation in existence, Z, has an inextricable connection to the global Web. With the help of the Internet, such people can learn absolutely any information in seconds, which often has a negative impact on interpersonal communication. The fast pace of life forces “digital” children to get answers right now and to be highly dependent on the images of bloggers and opinion leaders whose range of influence is spread through the Web.

The described worldviews guide individuals from different age groups, including in professional matters. While young people from Generation Z expect to see a leader as a sincere and honest person who is primarily motivated and emphasizes individual talents, the perception of leadership is somewhat different for Y and even more so for X (Madden, 2018). Thus, as good leaders, millennials see a person who cares not only about commercial issues of profit but also about social responsibility and the well-being of subordinates. So, such a leader should have a balance of personality traits and effectively combine the skills of a business leader and a personal motivator (Goldstein, 2017). A completely different view of leadership is characteristic of Generation X. These people want to see a good leader as a fully passionate person who is willing to change and change rapidly to achieve a goal. For this generation, emphasizing the individual characteristics of the individual employee is not as relevant as focusing on high-performance results. However, they do not want to lose their autonomy and flexibility, so they try to combine work and personal life.

Recognizing that the author belongs instead to the generation of digital children, it is essential to develop a system of recommendations for effective professional communication with a representative of generations Y and X. As a future leader, it is crucial to take into account the behavioral characteristics and philosophical values of clients from different age groups. When communicating with the older generation — X — it is critical to recognize their unconditional experience and personal merit but to act as a semi-authoritarian leader (Jones & Gatwood, 2021). In other words, it is important for these individuals to follow their supervisor’s instructions and goals, so a carefully planned, fixed schedule of meetings and midterm evaluations will be an effective interaction strategy. Additionally, the importance of active listening, including through email and phone platforms, should be emphasized.

Being a leader for millennials means actively supporting their involvement in the clinical process and rewarding them for taking the initiative. Typically, these people enjoy communication through social media more than anyone else, so this should be used in communication. Because millennials are inherently more engaged, the leader should reward them for this and encourage their determination and autonomy (Jones & Gatwood, 2021). Consequently, the clinical pathway being developed should hardly be fixed but instead should be flexible and adaptive enough to adjust well to the interests of the millennial.

Determining the motivational mechanisms that are best suited to the older generations is also a fundamental issue. Given all the hallmarks of Generation Y, the best strategy for motivating them would be to listen actively, encourage engagement, and mentor them. Millennials often want their ideas and opinions to be heard, so encouraging this desire will be an excellent strategy for motivating Generation Y. In addition, their high productivity skills should be emphasized regularly to increase ownership of the process. Therefore, expressing appreciation to such customers can be done by thanking them for their engagement and performance in achieving their goals. For Generation X, social status is significant, so these people should be motivated through the standard mechanisms of social rewards, discounts, and bonuses. X’s like having an effective mentor, although they value autonomy. Consequently, it is acceptable for members of this generation to use the motivational strategy of encouraging choice and recognition of achievements. The best expression of appreciation would be to discuss personal contributions and offer customized loyalty programs for these individuals.

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In conclusion, it should be noted that the social theory of generations is based on the recognition of different philosophies and values for different age groups. In this essay, three generations were discussed and compared: X, Y, and Z. Recognizing the author as a member of the youngest generation, it was essential to analyze basic approaches to effectively interacting with older clients. The paper consistently discussed motivation, recognition of results, and views on the issue of worthy leadership.


Dick, S. D. (2019). A study of the generational differences in work values of Generations X, Y, and Z [PDF document].

Goldstein, S. (2017). Millennials perceive ‘good leadership’ differently than everyone else — and they’re right. Inc.

Jones, C., & Gatwood, J. (2021). Motivating employees from different generations. AEU.

Madden, C. (2018). Gen Z: Three leadership foundations. LinkedIn.

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