Hot flashes, yuppies and texters, oh my! Understanding generational differences to improve communication.

I’m turning 40 next month. I’m actually really excited about it and I am incredibly thankful for my health and happiness. I’m also very proud to be a Gen Xer!

How do generational differences impact you and your practice? Consider the demographics of your office. The Boomers are heading to retirement just as the Gen Y’s are flooding the dental industry, many times as your new boss!

Rachel and I attended the American Association of Dental Office Managers Annual Session earlier this month. One of the highlights of the meeting was a presentation by Kathy Metaxas. Kathy, a practice management expert and international speaker based in Australia, traveled to Nashville to speak on one of her many areas of expertise: generational differences and how we can communicate across the boundaries of generation. Scroll down to read more about how you can improve your relationships with colleagues and patients based on what we know about the 3 distinct generations.

Stay Inspired,


Communicating Through the Ages

Are you a Baby Boomer, a member of Gen X, or are you in Gen Y? Your generation has huge implications on how you communicate, how you learn, how you relate to others, how you embrace technology, and, in general, how you interpret the world and how you expect the world to interpret you.

Consider an office scenario where you have a Baby Boomer office manager, a Gen Y dentist, two Gen X hygienists, three Baby Boomer dental assistants, and patients from every generation walking through your door. Talk about a recipe for a clash of ages!

Here is a sample of some of the known characteristics of the generations as presented by Australian-based dental consultant, Kathy Metaxas. Here are a few tips on how you can use your knowledge of generational differences to better support your patients and colleagues in the practice:

Baby Boomers (1946-1964)

  • Boomers tend to have resistance to change and have more hesitation with new technologies.
    • Practice tip: Boomers are hard working, dependable individuals – yeah! However, don’t expect a Boomer team member to jump for joy when you tell them the office is going paperless by year’s end!
    • Practice tip: Implement change slowly and add technology gradually. The same applies for Boomer patients, electronic health histories and electronic sign-in can be intimidating – use technology judiciously with Boomer patients.
  • The Boomer generation appreciates respect
    • Practice tip: When addressing a Boomer patient, they prefer to be called by their surname. When a younger person addresses them informally (by their first name) it can be perceived as unprofessional.
    • o Practice tip: If you’re a Gen X or Gen Y doctor, make sure you introduce yourself to patients as “Dr. Jones” instead of “Beth”. Boomers see you as more professional when you use a more formal introduction.

Generation X (1965-1976)

  • Gen Xers love and accept change.
    • Practice tip: If you’re trying to market your practice to draw in more patients from this demographic, focus on the technological side of how your practice is innovative.
    • Practice tip: Gen X doctors and team members love going to trade shows and CE programs where the latest and greatest advances are showcased. Be supportive and listen to their ideas and figure out a way to implement new ideas. Gen Xers get bored very quickly and burn out if they do the same thing day in and day out.

Generation Y (1977-1994)

  • They love recognition!
    • Practice tip: Gen Y grew up in a time when society focused heavily on praise and rewards. For example, Gen Y patients will shut down if they feel like the doctor or hygienist is only focusing on the negative (ex. charging them for a broken appointment or scolding them for poor home care). Gen Y team members also crave positive feedback on their work performance.
    • Practice tip: They are the masters of social media. If your practice has a Facebook page, a Twitter account, or a website, tap into the energy and opinions of the Gen Y team members to help build your practice through social media.

If you have a small sense of how each generation views the world, it can help to elevate the way in which you relate to each other in the practice and can assist you in better communicating with your patients.

Good luck!

Be sure to check out Kathy’s link.

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