ABZ’s of Communication for PM’s and Techies… G: Greetings, Generations, and Globalization

PMBOK® 4th Edition: over 80% of a project manager’s time is spent on communication.
when was the last time you got a dose of soft skills training?

G= Greetings, Generations, and Globalization


The famous 1996 movie Jerry McGuire starring Tom Cruise and Renée Zellweger featured the quote “You had me at ‘hello’” spoken by the female lead to her love.  Wow!  Has it ever occurred to you such power from a simple greeting?

Did you know that messages are 50% body language, over 1/3 tone, and 7% words?  While a greeting may consist of a single word, the message conveyed is so much more.  Greetings set the stage for so many other types of communication that they deserve special mention.

The word “greeting” means “A word or gesture of welcome or salutation” (www.thefreedictionary.com) – does this mean that the results are always positive?

Cultural overtones envelope greetings depending on the customs of one’s home country.  In Japan, for example, when two people meet, they bow towards each other with the younger one showing respect by bowing lower.  According to Wikipedia:  “Generally speaking, an inferior bows longer, more deeply and more often than a superior. A superior addressing an inferior will generally only nod the head slightly, while some superiors may not bow at all and an inferior will bend forward slightly from the waist.”  Exchanging business cards is Asia also has its own protocols in the greetings department:  the business card is an extension of you and is presented to another formally with two hands. In Asia, never write on business cards or place them in your back pocket for the same reason that you’d not do this with a person. Basic respect dictates this corporate behavior.

In North America, the customary greeting is to say hello or good morning to co-workers at the beginning of the day, and our customs are not as strict as in other countries.  Not surprising, there are few formal rules about greeting because they can be situation and media specific. For example, emails do not routinely start with “Good morning” unless you are assured of a timely read.

Greetings give you unique opportunities to create rapport among strangers (especially at meetings you host or networking events you attend).  By extending warm greetings to new arrivals, you set the tone of the meeting.  When you introduce strangers to each other, you set yourself apart as a connector and true leader.  (More about this in upcoming posts including I: Introductions and  N: Networking.)  Greet and meet for success!


For the first time, our workplace plays host to four separate generations:

  • Pre-boomers (those born before 1946),
  • Baby boomers (1946-1964),
  • Generation X (1961-1981), and
  • Generation Y/Millennial (mid 1970’s -2000’s)

Each generation has slightly different motivations, priorities, goals, ethics and workplace practices.  In an earlier post, I mentioned that generations are part of the corporate diversity, but it bears mention that communication plans should specifically consider the generational demographics of your audience.  For example, if you are presenting to a group where the average age is  under 30, it is not likely you will need to explain text messaging. However, if pre-boomers are the majority, explanations about messaging would be a considerate approach.


Geert Hofstede authored the classical and best-known work about cultural characteristics and globalization with his Software of the Mind.  While the work can stereotype nations, it provides comparisons between countries on the basis of 5 standard dimensions:

  • PDI      —Power Distance Index  (how important is rank structure)
  • IDV      —Individualism (personal versus team orientation)
  • MAS     —Masculinity (gender equality and openness of the workplace to emotion)
  • UAI      —Uncertainty Avoidance Index (risk tolerance)
  • LTO     —Long-Term Orientation (long versus short-term outlook)

When new team members (from other countries) consider comparing the U.S. to the new country and seeing where there may be differences in outlook by these dimensions.  To do this visit the Hofstede website .

To your better communication and more successful projects!


Carol Dekkers
email: dekkers@qualityplustech.com

For more information on northernSCOPE(TM) visit www.fisma.fi (in English pages) and for upcoming training in Tampa, Copenhagen, Dusseldorf, Helsinki and other locations in 2010, visit www.qualityplustech.com.

=======Copyright 2010, Carol Dekkers ALL RIGHTS RESERVED =======


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