How Millenials hurt themselves socially

So I’m a Millenial. Well, or a Xennial (or maybe an Oregon Trailer!) since I’m a bit older, or maybe something else. But in this crazy world, I can identify as a Millenial, so that should be good enough for you, and you’ll just have to accept me as I am.

I work with lots of younger Millenials. I like them, and I think most of the Millenial criticism has more to do with coming from broken families. But I’m seeing a few trends that seem to be unique to this upcoming generation. More importantly, I worry that these are holding people back when they have to work with older people.

Start with RSVPs, or rather, the lack of them. Millenials don’t RSVP for anything. Weddings, dinners, business meetings, whatever it is, if I ask people to RSVP, I’m lucky if 20% do. I’ve had dinners where 20 people sent RSVPs and I had 45 show up. While it’s awesome to have the occasional surprise guest, it makes planning difficult. In this case, it put a lot of pressure on the restaurant staff to find us a place to sit.

So tip number one: Take the ten seconds to RSVP and put the date and place on your Google Calendar. It’ll take less time than reading that bad Vox article on your phone.

Speaking of phones, being on your smart phone when someone is trying to have a conversation with you is a huge faux-pah. I’m guilty of this one, and I’ve started either putting the phone on the table or leaving it in my car if I’m out with a friend. I’ve also adjusted the settings so that it doesn’t ring or chime unless it’s a text message or phone call, since getting buzzed for every Facebook reply is just annoying.

More importantly, it stunts your growth in terms of learning how to converse with people. When you’re talking to someone, you pick up on facial expressions, tone, hand motions, and all sorts of other things conveniently filtered out by the text on social media. It takes time to master that, but practicing with people that you like will help you work with difficult people in the future.

So tip number two: Leave the phone behind and enjoy talking to your friends and family.

Let’s talk about clothes. Clothes say a lot about you. Anytime I’ve found myself rushed and wearing a wrinkled shirt, I feel bad, because I think it just looks unprofessional. Apparently I’m in the minority. I see plenty of people wearing jeans and grubby t-shirts to church, to business meetings, and to work. If you work on a farm or an autobody shop, grubby clothes make sense. If you work in an office, they don’t.

Now, I know that Facebook and Google are all like “We have relaxed dress codes, and we’re the cool kids!” But you probably don’t work at Facebook. Or Google. And you probably aren’t that cool to begin with. You’re just like the rest of us. Sorry to break it to you.

And that brings tip number three: Dress nicely. A collared shirt and slacks/skirt go a long way.

I don’t think Millenials need to lose their identity. But I don’t like seeing them lose out on opportunities because of simple bad habits. Many of these have become too prevalent to think they will die out over time, so it depends on us self-identifying Xennials to point them out and fix them.


This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other Federal entity.

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