#UNTRENDING: Core values, not age, bind us

News columnist cautions against pigeon-holing people based on demographic information

Age, gender, income levels, and other demographic indicators don’t tend to unite us. Core values do a better job of bringing like-minded people together, says Vicki McLeod. (Special to The News)

Age, gender, income levels, and other demographic indicators don’t tend to unite us. Core values do a better job of bringing like-minded people together, says Vicki McLeod. (Special to The News)

By Vicki McLeod/Special to The News

Demographics have been long used as a tool by which to predict behaviour, and differentiate between attitudes of population groups by age, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, or geography.

In the marketing arena, demographics have been kind of a holy grail for predicting consumer buying patterns and targeting products and services.

In the 21st century, where we navigate the tricky intersection of analogue and digital communication, the generation gap is used as a way to explain the relative adaptation of different groups to digital communication tools.

We live in a complex world.

The global nature of business, afforded by technology, means that our workplaces are culturally and socially diverse and can have up to five generations working side-by-side.

While it has been standard practice to categorize employees or consumers by birth year and attendant behavioural typecasting, new research indicates that this method fails to address what it is that we truly have in common and what really drives our behaviour.

In his book, We Are All the Same Age Now: Valuegraphics, The End of Demographic Stereotypes (Lioncrest Books, 2018), Vancouver author and consultant David Allison draws on big data to debunk what he sees as the outdated and inaccurate labels that result from demographic stereotyping.

Allison conducted more than 500,000 surveys and found that globally Baby Boomers (for example) agree on something just 16 per cent of the time.

Similar numbers hold true for Gen X, Gen Z, and Millennials.

The science simply doesn’t support predicting behaviour based on age grouping.

PREVIOUS COLUMN: Decluttering mind and space

“When you ask people what they care about – their shared core values, you get almost the complete inverse, 89 per cent alignment,” Allison said.

It is not our age, but rather our values that determine alignment.

Allison also warns against an insidious side-effect of what he calls “demographic shaming,” which can promote ageism in the workplace.

“We might think it’s harmless calling each other grumpy old men, crazy old ladies, or young punks. But the truth is, each of these insults reinforces notions about each other that are harmful, and those harmful notions are the basis for ageist practices,” said Allison.

“At its core, ageism is an attitude built around a set of faulty beliefs about a group of people who share nothing in common except their age.”

Despite including generation gap research into much of my written work, I’ve never been fully comfortable defining individuals by groupings.

As Kristen Neff says in her book, Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself (HarperCollins 2015) “As long as we’re identifying with subsets of people rather than the entire human race, we’re creating divisions that separate us from our fellows.”

In his work, Allison urges us: “We have to stop using demographic labels to paint each other with broad brushes. The findings from our “valuegraphics” database prove that there is no brush. Age, gender, income, marital status, education, number of kids – none of it indicates any kind of similarity. We’re all the same age now. Some of us just haven’t figured that out yet.”

READ MORE FROM MCLEOD: Who wants to be perceived as ruthless, pushy, or striving?

– Vicki McLeod is an author, TEDx speaker, and award-winning entrepreneur. She is a business and personal coach and consultant. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram or find her at www.vickimcleod.com

_________________________________

• If there is more to this topic, please let us know about it. Email us at editor@mapleridgenews.com. We look forward to hearing from you. In the meantime, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

_________________________________

social media

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Jim Graham caught the sunrise Tuesday, Jan. 19 along the Fraser River looking toward Mount Baker. (Special to The News)
SHARE: Sunrise over the Fraser River

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon

Elise Gouin (left), tech peer to Jocelyn McLean, in booth at CEED Centre Neighbourhood House. (Christian Cowley/Special to The News)
New seniors programs at Maple Ridge centre help isolated connect

The CEED Centre Society is offering two new seniors programs

Nobody will be turned away from the Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministry in the next couple of days as temperatures are expected to dip below freezing. (THE NEWS/files)
Ridge Meadows Salvation Army calls for extreme weather response

Freezing temperatures forecast tonight and Friday, snow on the weekend

Madeline Merlo announced a new record deal with Broken Bow Record Music Group. (Facebook/Madeline Merlo)
Maple Ridge country artist signs record deal in Nashville

Madeline Merlo signed with Broken Bow Record Music Group

The Meadow Ridge Female Hockey Association has received a government grant to help weather the pandemic financially.
Ridge Meadows sports organizations given pandemic relief

Three associations approved for government grants

Businesses continue to struggle under COVID-19 restrictions as the pandemic reaches the one-year mark. (B.C. government)
Another 564 COVID-19 cases, mass vaccine plan coming Friday

15 more deaths, community cluster declared in Williams Lake

Fire on Yale Road north of the overpass Friday morning. (Progress file)
Early morning blaze guts Chilliwack restaurant

The fire erupted north of the overpass closing one lane of Yale Road

A specialized RCMP team is investigating a suspicious trailer, which might have connections to the illicit drug trade, found abandoned outside a Cache Creek motel. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
Police probe U-Haul trailer linked to illicit drugs left outside Cache Creek motel

Hazardous materials found inside believed to be consistent with the production of illicit drugs

Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year as he comments on various questions from the media in the Press Gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interprovincial travel restrictions a no-go, Horgan says after reviewing legal options

The B.C. NDP government sought legal advice as concerns of travel continue

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Gem Lake Top, at Big White Ski Resort, seen at Jan. 8. (Big White Ski Resort)
Big White cancels $7.3M in lift tickets, accommodations due to COVID-19 orders

Since November, the ski resort has been forced to make several changes

Darlene Curylo scratched a $3M ticket, BCLC’s largest ever scratch and win prize. (BCLC)
Kelowna woman in shock after winning BCLC’s largest-ever instant-ticket prize

Darlene Curylo couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the amount of money she’d won from a scratch ticket

While each person has different reasons for becoming homeless, a UBCO study shows they learn through their interactions with different services to perform ‘as homeless’ based on the expectations of service providers. (Contributed)
Kelowna homeless forced to ‘perform’ for resources, says UBCO study

One participant in the study said ‘It is about looking homeless, but not too homeless’

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette takes the royal salute from the Guard of Honour as she makes her way deliver the the throne speech, Wednesday, September 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Gov. Gen. Julie Payette resigns, apologizes for ‘tensions’ at Rideau Hall

Payette, who is the Queen’s representative in Canada, has been the governor general since 2017

Most Read