Sunday, May 14, 2017

A Millennial's Guide to Office Etiquette

Sad to say, but the millennial generation has become something of a joke. Members of that generation misbehave so consistently that they have lent themselves to withering caricatures.

One understands—because one is nothing if not understanding—that the fault lies with their parents and the school system. That is, with whoever failed to teach them manners. I will add that they are the products of parents and teachers who imagined that their primary task was not to educate, not to help build character, but to do therapy. That is to shower their children with empty praise, never to criticize them, never to correct their faults and to allow them the freest unconstrained expression.

Anyway, this generation needs help. And it needs good advice. Under the circumstances we are naturally inclined to turn to the Daily Mail. This time the paper does not disappoint. In a William Hanson column it lays down the proper markers.

Describing this group as entitled and self-aggrandizing, Hanson offers some guidelines for the world of work… which some of us consider to be the real world.

He begins with a lesson in hierarchy. Since millennials believe in equality, they do not understand hierarchy. They think that they are as good as they think they are. They insist that everyone else agree. So, they never learned to respect authority or to practice deference.

Hanson begins:

Know your place!

You may have been captain of the rugby team at school, a pretty big deal with your university’s social committee; your parents may be oozing with pride for you, but, millennials, when you join a firm in a graduate position you are bottom of the pile.

Get used to it or get out.

Next… millennials have mastered the art of communicating in incoherent text messages. They need need to put down their iPhones and raise their tired eyes… to look another human being in the eye. That will put them on the road to learning the art of conversation, of speaking to someone face to face:

The millennial generation have grown up with technology at their fingertips and are skilfully adept at holding conversations via Whatsapp, iMessage and email. When it comes to interfacing with human beings in the flesh, where communiques from one’s lips cannot be edited before emitting, they struggle.

To truly excel above the (hopefully) friendly competition of your peers know when to turn off the buzzing mobile and step away from the slavish keyboard.

Want to make your clients feel special and wanted? Ring them to arrange your next meeting, send a hand-written thank you note after you attend one of their events, and don’t look at your phone once when you get together.

We can call it the human dimension. Treat other people like human beings and you will profit.

Hanson then mentions that you should constrain your wish to gossip, to repeat what others have said, to talk trash about other people. When someone confides in you, keep what they say in confidence. If you don’t you are showing that you cannot be trusted. And you are showing that you are in it for the entertainment, not for the business:

Office ‘banter’ is not a human right.

Camaraderie in an office is healthy – it helps bond a team – but this is not an extended stag do, or a night out with ‘the girls’. Keep the banter dial turned down to low. Or to off: off is an option, too.

It’s all about decorum and propriety. Precious few millennials have been taught such skills, but they have not disappeared. They should begin by getting over themselves. They will advance when they learn how important it is to care about other people.


James said...

If the Millennials get their way in their work places then reality will come knocking and the work places will just go away and they will have no place to go. No organized business can succeed under the millennial's ideas of how it's done. Which of course throws them right back into the arms of the government and us subsidizing their existence, which of course as we are told constantly is a "right".
I don't want to sound like an old fuddy duddy and I know many of the same arguments could be made by the horse and buggy crowd about young people in their day, but this is different.

Sam L. said...

Marine Basic Training would cure millenials. Army, Navy, and Coast Guard could likely do it. too. Don't know about Air Force.

Ares Olympus said...

Stuart: The millennial generation have grown up with technology at their fingertips and are skilfully adept at holding conversations via Whatsapp, iMessage and email. When it comes to interfacing with human beings in the flesh, where communiques from one’s lips cannot be edited before emitting, they struggle.

A very good point, although the quality of asynchronous communication in emails isn't necessarily low. That's a choice.

And for in-the-flesh I'd suggest Toastmasters, if you want to polish your ability to speak and think on your feet, and express leaderships in organization.

Much cheaper than management schools, even if the certificates of achievement are not necessarily signs of competence.

But if we want the ultimate antirole model for Millennials, surely our Commander-and-Tweet, the ultimate entitled and self-aggrandizing muddled thinker.

James said...

I don't know Sam. I think it's going to have to take big bad nasty reality to do the job. One of the things that has struck me about the Millennials and the high tech barons is their very odd faith in a strange jumble of tech/government for the resolution of some of life's deepest mysteries. This is sort of getting into Ignatius's territory, but remember about a year ago the talk from the high techies about life extension and the possibility of immortality. When you here people talking like that they've really cut loose from reality and are in for a big surprise. Well I've blabbed enough already. Millennials would just quit the services (if the standards are not relaxed). They don't realized that the majority of wealth created by the new tech has been for socializing. Their devices (and themselves) cannot fix anything, they can call for a repairman, but one has to answer. To the stool of silence!

James said...

This is a perfect allegory for Millennials in the work place.

James said...

My favorite part:
"‘We still don’t understand how this happened because he fasted and prayed the whole week. They finished him in a couple of minutes.

‘All that was left of him when they finished eating him is a pair of sandals and his underwear floating above the water.’"
Thus the tale ends with the Millennial attending his first corporate meeting.

Sam L. said...

James, I understand that Marine Basic IS a big, bad, nasty reality.

James said...

I don't know Sam, I went through army back in the days of muzzle loaders. I do remember the Drill Sgts for some reason had very little interest in my personal problems. They probably had never gone through diversity and micro aggression training.
It was the first and only time I experienced levitation. With all my gear I found myself suddenly in the back of a cattle truck. Other recruits claimed a drill sgt had kicked my rear end up into the truck. It was a scientific marvel.

Jacksonian Grouch said...

@ Sam L.

so, you think the jarheads have an edge on bringin' up young Americans proper? Then read on and learn, my son...

A Coastie went into the head to take a leak, and saw there was a Marine doing the same at the far end.

The Marine finishes then goes to the sink and turns the water on. The Coastie finishes, zips up and heads for the door.

"Hey, Puddle Pirate!", the Marine barks out; "Whatcherdoin? Didn't your DI ever teach you to wash your hands after you piss?"

The Coastie turns, looks at the Marine and responds - "Nah, Jarhead - in our bootcamp we learned never to piss on our hands in the first place."

"nuff said,

The JG
(USCG 1984-2000)

Doug Cranmer said...

Wear socks and shoes around the office. No bare feet. I wish I could say I'm making that up.

the golddigger said...

Want to make your clients feel special and wanted? Ring them to arrange your next meeting

No! Do not call me on the phone! Email me, please. Do not force me to interrupt what I am doing to answer the phone and then have only one hand available to check my calendar.