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7 Things You Should Stop Saying To Millennials

7 Things You Should Stop Saying To Millennials

Millennials seem to be a vastly misunderstood lot. People have misconceptions about millennials, making general assumptions about their personalities, what they value, how they do things, what they believe in, so on and so forth. In recent years, more formal research and studies have been conducted that give us a better insight about this group of young people. In the multi-generational workplace today, more and more people issues arise when people fall prey to misconceptions and say the wrongs things or in the wrong way to others, especially millennials. Considering more than 50% of the workforce will be comprised of millennials by the year 2020, it’s time we learned the right way to communicate with them!

Here are seven things you should stop saying to millennials:

1. You do XYZ because I told you to do so!

Top down approach is not popular with millennials. Giving them instructions and directions and only as-needed information is the surest way to lose their trust and interest. They thrive on feeling a sense of connection and owning the task. Giving them orders and not truly making them a part of the team does not foster the connection they seek with their work.

Instead, include them in all relevant conversations and be transparent. This makes them feel respected and valued and hence foster’s their output and commitment to the workplace.

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2. You have to rely on IT to give you the latest and the greatest.

This group of people is very familiar and comfortable with technology. They know the latest productivity apps, the newest chat channels, and the greatest softwares. Telling them to wait for a long time to get a piece of technology approved by the IT department, is a big source of frustration and hindrance to the way they work. A couple of years ago (when I was still technically in the millennial age bracket), I was at a meeting with a top C level executive and typing away my notes on Evernote. The C level executive asked me what it is and after I explained, he asked me if it had been approved by IT. He was concerned that I could access my notes on my phone or my home computer. He recommended that I talk to the head of IT about it. Luckily for me, I was not mandated to stop using Evernote. Evernote is like a right arm to me and it would be extremely difficult to manage my notes and work on word documents and emails!

In the same vein, millennials expect the latest and greatest with their devices, connectivity, and applications. Easy to use software and devices with minimal IT interference is a great perk for millennials.

3.You have to wait to talk about it in the Annual Performance Review.

Shelving important conversations such as giving feedback, explanations, strategic discussions etc are things that supervisors tend to put off for later. Near term tasks/needs and putting off the ‘immediate fire situation’ are most often the priorities on a day-to-day basis. Millennials want to be a part of the strategic discussions, want their opinions to be heard and want immediate feedback, if possible on the spot.

When millennials approach you, be transparent, open and inviting, give feedback as often as possible and satiate their hunger to grow and be a part of the organization.

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4. You must get this task done.

Giving a millennial a task and asking them to get it done without any other explanation will raise eyebrows for sure! Millennials like to understand not just what the task is but also why it is done, how it fits into the overall vision for the company, and how it upholds the mission of the organization. They see it all as an interconnected web and how their contribution plays a big part in upholding this web.

Make sure to give millennials the entire 3D, 4D, and any other D view of the project to help them buy in and garner their support for completion of the task.

5. You are on a one-man team:

As much as millennials love their time with their devices, this generation thrives on human connections. Setting up a one-person team will demoralize millennials. It is not that they are not capable of finishing tasks on their own, but more so that they like to collaborate.

Provide opportunities to collaborate and do team work.

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6. You move to this role and your career path is:

Millennials thrive on autonomy and by taking charge of their career destiny. Don’t allot them to roles and paths that you think is best for them.

Engage in conversations with them and let them make decisions concerning their career paths.

7. You ask for things that are against our policy :

Flexible work arrangements are important to millennials. Being able to work from home or choose flexible work timings allows them to take care of other commitments. Honoring their commitments is a big deal for this group. Blaming it on policy if you have not given it a try before, is a strict no-no.

Instead, being willing to try new suggestions as suggested by millennials, giving their ideas a fair chance earns their respect and trust and commitment.

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This warm, engaging and collaborative group is brimming with potential. Let us use the right communication tools to maximize our interactions with millennials.

Featured photo credit: depositphotos/scornejor via depositphotos.com

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Published on May 18, 2021

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

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Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

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Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

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