Multigenerational or Intergenerational?

By Shae Hadden | Bio

Traditionally, a generation was defined as the time between the birth
of parents and the birth of their offspring (about 30 years). Recently,
however, a more accurate definition would be a group of people born and
shaped by a particular span of time. The eras of Generations X, Y and Z
span much less than two decades each. And every generation experiences
life from a different perspective including changing societal values,
technologies and career options. These different perspectives are very
apparent  when we communicate with each other.

Language not only describes our reality, but also creates our future. The words we choose to use can have a profound impact on those who listen to us. Take the word "intergenerational", for instance. When I’m speaking with people younger than myself about collaboration and I use the word "intergenerational", they call me on it and say that, to them, it sounds like an oxymoron. They hear the "inter" in "intergenerational" as being an either/or orientation, almost confrontational in its essence. Yet when I use the word "multigenerational", they tell me they instantly think of people working together and a non-confrontational ‘space’ for collaboration. 

Phil over at Phil’s Little Blog on the Prairie speaks about this in terms of congregations and associations. To speak of collaboration with people from multiple generations, I agree that, if we are truly trying to "come together" (as John Lennon so aptly said it), then the word "multigenerational" is a better choice.

 © 2008 Shae Hadden. All rights reserved.