Anne Miller — Words Matter Make What You Say Pay!
Presentation & Sales Specialist
Author | Speaker | Coach
Words Matter – Make What You Say Pay!


Metaphor Minute: Crossing the Generation Gap

The METAPHOR MINUTE Newsletter by Anne Miller

September 18, 2014

Crossing the Generation Gap

“What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.” Cool Hand Luke, 1967
Are you a Boomer, Millennial, Gen-Xer? Ever have conflict with the other groups? You are not alone. Enter Suzanne Kaplan, multi-generation consultant, trainer, and speaker, who has a clever (metaphorical) way to bridge the communication gap among these groups.

A Few Facts First
The sheer numbers of the Baby Boomer Generation (currently ages about 50-68 and previously the largest generation in history) have enabled them to pretty much shape organizations as they exist today, which is not necessarily the way Millennials, the youngest largest and best educated generation ever, want the workplace to operate. Added to these two demographic groups with their differing life and work attitudes are two other dissimilar cohorts – the Traditionalists (the oldest and still about 5% of the workforce) and Gen X, those aged 34-49 and the smallest generation. It is no wonder that companies are experiencing generational conflict, tensions at work, and people talking past each other --- all of which threaten an organization’s ability to stay competitive and succeed.

Describing the Problem
Says Suzanne, “The first step to this transformation is finding common communication ground so that everyone understands why people from other generations see the same issue so differently.”

“When speaking to CEOs or giving presentations on the
multigenerational workforce, I frequently present a visual metaphor of organizations being like Highways—with 4, going on 5, generations traveling at the same time on that highway—each with the best intentions but with different behaviors, communication styles, motivators, etc. I title one presentation “Generation Jam, Fast lane…No Road Rage” meaning we want all the generations to travel respectively and innovatively without any one going into road rage through miscommunications or misunderstanding.

Suzanne’s four slides describe the four generations noting their birth years, current percentage of workforce, historical events that influenced them, communications and leadership styles, and other varying characteristics.

  • Traditionalists—yellow traffic light since they follow the rules and stop even before the light turns red

  • Baby Boomers—cattle in passing lane, clogging it so traffic and development are stopped and people behind them can’t pass

  • Gen X—riding their bikes on shoulder of road since they are independent and don’t want to follow rules

  • Millennials—yellow traffic sign with arrows going in circles inside—millennials will go in circles if not given direction and clear expectations

Suzanne reports, “These simple metaphors help everyone instantly understand that a company in which the four groups travel in different directions and modes cannot possibly succeed. This shortcut understanding of the challenges then opens people up to looking at solutions."

Hitting the Emotional Costs
Logic tells. Emotions move. So Suzanne continues with stories and metaphors personalized for each industry. For example, law firms may have problems with clogging at the top with older attorneys, younger attorneys not being developed or mentored, and younger attorneys leaving to work where they can have more work/life balance. Suzanne relates the true story of a 40 year old Gen X woman attorney who left her firm to start her own firm because she said, “She felt like she had a brick above her and a millennial train barreling down on her from behind and no place to go.” (Feel the squeeze?)

Neutralizing Resistance
Change is never easy and people will push back on change, to which Suzanne persuasively replies, “Do you want to be pro-active and ahead of the curve or get caught sleeping? In 2015 millennials will comprise 38% of the workforce and will continue to grow in influence. Their needs, styles, and methods for recruiting and retaining them are different. You can either pay attention to, and develop, them to meet your organization’s needs or watch them jump ship as the economy improves and opportunities expand. You can’t manage a company as you did in 2004. You would never think of using the same computer systems you did years ago—you need to give the same thought to the people systems within your organizations. Take a look at each generation and how best to lead, motivate, engage and communicate with them.”

As a Boomer with a Millennial step-daughter, I am trying, Suzanne. I am trying!

Anne Miller
Make What You Say Pay — With Metaphors.

If you liked this newsletter, please share it
with friends and colleagues. Thank you! 

P.S. For more information on how Suzanne Kaplan can help your organization find the shared strengths and values among these different age groups and turn them into strategies for delivering uncommon results. Email: - website:

Master the Art of Selling with Metaphors
Now Available in print, on Kindle & as Audiobook
The Tall Lady With the Iceberg: the power of metaphors to sell, persuade, & explain anything to anyone.

“Filled with fresh thinking, this book should be a "must read" for all salespeople and business leaders who want to take their communication skills to the next level.”

-Jill Konrath, Author, SNAP Selling.
*Chosen Top Sales Book of the Month for April by Top Sales World*

Confidence is an evergreen skill.  Increase yours with  "No One Hears Your Pounding Heart!
The Ultimate Guide to Boosting Presentation Confidence" Download Your Complimentary Copy Now

Need Help With Your Presentation or Demo?
Call today and turn your information that tells into a story that sells.

"I sing your praises every opportunity I get." Partner Regent Atlantic Capital LLC

“I still use what you taught me thirteen years ago!” CEO, #1 luxury website

“Thanks to you, our presentation went very well…I am in awe at how you are able to analyze a situation and help me focus in on the key points that need to be clarified and emphasized. You make it look easy, but I know it is not! Lynn Hutzel-Visel, VP, Comerica Bank


Random Recommendation: Perfect Pitch 24 delivers a centralized content management system that places all sales and marketing videos, images and documents right at your fingertips making it easy and seamless to present the right message to the right customer at the right time. (In the spirit of full disclosure, I am an affiliate.) Click 30 Day Free Trial - Start Now!
Tell me about YOUR Metaphor Minute, a time you used a metaphor or an analogy to make your point, overcome an obstacle, close a sale, or wow an audience, and receive a signed copy of The Tall Lady or Make What You Say Pay!. Simply call me at 212 876 1875 and tell me what you did or email me at

If someone emailed you this copy of The Metaphor Minute, sign up now to get your own copy.
(and be sure to "white list" to be insure delivery)

Links I Like:

Great Resources:

"The best arguments
dazzle with metaphor"

Gerry Spence,
Media Commentator & Lawyer

The Original “Metaphorically Selling” that spawned a movement, now with 25 New Stories.  Available in print, ebook & (new) audiobook formats.
Click here

Special Offer: Buy 50 copies and get a free seminar. Call 212-876-1875 or email
me for details

7 Signs You Need A Metaphor (Visual Language)

  1. Your listener is not paying attention
  2. Your listener is stuck on an objection
  3. Your listener is confused
  4. Your listener sees no difference between you and your competition
  5. You want to drive home a point vividly and memorably
  6. You have to wiggle out of a difficult situation
  7. You want to wow or motivate a larger audience

The best firms hire brilliantly
& train relentlessly.

Having a Meeting? 
Call today for fresh ideas to take your team to the next level 212-876-1875 or

"I've been to a lot of training programs and yours was the best!"
 -CRO, MediaMath

MetMetaphor Minute Archives

View A Recent Video

The Key to Persuasion,
Clarity & Understanding

7 Ways to Capture a
Prospect's Attention

Written with pal and Sales 2.0 guru Nigel Edelshain

Fight The Noise
- Make Your Point

"Smart & Easy to Read"
"Incredibly Timely"
"Must have if you influence or persuade anyone"
Free Preview or
Buy Now

Official Training Partner

The IAB is dedicated to the growth of the interactive advertising marketplace

 "The Metaphor Minute" is a brief monthly note with examples from business, media, or politics that illustrate the power of metaphors and analogies to make a point, solve a problem, and get results. Use these stories to stimulate high pay-off metaphoric thinking in your business. © 2013. Anne Miller. -- PERMISSION TO REPRINT -- Feel free to reprint in company newsletters or articles. Just include ©2013, Anne Miller, author, "Metaphorically Selling,"
You are subscribed at:[[-Email-]] - to unsubscribe, click here
©2018 Chiron Associates New York, NY 212-876-1875