Building a Relationships with Different Generations

Each generation has very different characteristics and values which result in unique emotions and behaviours.

To develop a successful and lasting relationship with people from the different generations, a lawyer needs to know how the generations differ, why they differ, and how to best approach develop a relationship and earn their trust.


These individuals are generationally conditioned to be conservative, frugal, and silent.

They are conservative because of the rigors of the extremely tough times they experienced as they grew up and survived day-by-day.

They are frugal since they lived through fear and painful shortages of the Great Recession and/or World War II. Making sacrifices and delaying benefits was the “way of life” during those times.

They feel most comfortable being silent.  The Great Recession and, even more so, being in the military structure taught them to “hold their tongue”.

Traditionalists are typically very disciplined individuals. A person with authority was not to be questioned. Everyone’s word was above question – their word was “their bond”. Their handshake sealed their bond with you.

To develop a successful relationship with Traditionalists, show respect for them as well as other people. Being rather casual with them can be interpreted as being too familiar.

Baby Boomers

Baby Boomers have grown up and lived through a wide variety of life-shaping events such as double-income families, consumerism, and the invention of television.

There are lots of Baby Boomers in Canada (9.6 million according to the 2011 Census – 27.9% of the population).

Baby Boomers were very hard working. They have virtually “lived to work” because they were so driven to succeed. They highly value the good things in life and want to display that they can afford the best.

Unlike Traditionalists, Baby Boomers want to be admired for their success and appreciated.

To develop a successful relationship with Baby Boomers, show you will “do whatever it takes”.

After all, that is what they did to succeed.  They will tend to expect you as their lawyer to “do what it takes” to successfully win their legal challenges.

Generation “X”

There is a relatively small population of 2.9 million (8.5% of the population).

Generation “X” typically refuse to follow in their parents footsteps of “living to work”.

To many of them, it is foolish to be dependant and loyal to a company. They saw their hard-working, company-loyal parents get laid off by a firm “downsizing” during periodic rough economic times. They are typically skeptical of things.

Generation “X”  highly value taking care of yourself and your family first and foremost and live a work-life balance – namely  “work to live”.

They see having up-to-date computer skills as significantly enhancing their ability to be self-reliant – the key to living a good life.

To develop a successful relationship with Baby Boomers, show you are self-reliant and have computer know-how.

Generation “Y”

With a population of 9.9 million, they are the largest generation currently in Canada (28.7%).

While not as skeptical of organizations as Generation “X”, they are similar in that they are “Me” focused. They typically take care of #1 first.

They often believe they are special and feel entitled because that is how they were treated at home and in school.

They highly value and want immediacy. After all, they grew up getting answers fast on the Internet.

They want to be respected and are self-assured … although the current high level of youth employment is hurting their assumption of self-importance.

To develop a successful relationship with Generation “Y”, show you respect their opinion, have social media skills, and use up-to-date technology. They will trust and respect you if they think you have earned it –it typically will not be automatic.