There is a nasty rumour going on that says millennials are takers, selfish and self-centered. Okay, it’s more than a rumour, there’s plenty of media articles on how Generation Millennial is the Snowflake Generation, live on Advocado on toast, and are the vainest people on the planet.
This commentary comes from the fact that most millennials aren’t as private about their personal lives as Boomers, and us Gen-Xers. To them sharing a selfie on social media has very little to do about being a narcissist – on the contrary; it’s just about being social and fitting in. Many women don’t appear in family photos – they were behind the camera taking pics of their family. Millennials are taking plenty of photos of everyone, themselves included. Their children will have complete sets of the people in their family. And if you’re totally honest with yourself, wouldn’t you take selfies if you were young, confident and had the tools to do so?
No matter what you really think, this generation (those born between 1980 and the year 2000) are fast becoming the largest voting and purchasing block in history – numbering more than 80 million in the US alone. As they come into their own, it’s up to us to finally start marketing to this generation in a respectful way and in ways that speak to them and their values. We also need to own up and take responsibility for their ways, because many Gen Xers have Millenial children; we’re the reason Millennials are the way they are.
Millennials Value Work-Life Balance
Millennials grew up with their parents working all the time, and for what seemed like nothing. We instilled into them the work-life balance we desired so much, but no one would give us. Since the stock market and economy crashed at the end of 2007, millennials decided that they shouldn’t place all their eggs in one basket. We raised them to be adventurers, to be curious, to explore and they’re doing all of this and more. We don’t want our children to stay in boring jobs. We want them to be happy and motivated. This means they will move when their career stagnates. Their living in advanced technological times. As tech shifts, so does their role in the workplace.
They’ve learned from our mistakes! They are demanding better treatment at work, and want fair and equitable treatment regardless of their gender. I’m so proud that we’ve raised our sons and daughters right. I’m overjoyed that we’ve given them their voice and enabled them to use it. They now want better, happier workplaces. It’s time to stop kicking Millenials for doing what we asked of them.
They Use Technology Differently
While you might get on the phone to deal with someone, Millennials prefer not to play phone tag and will email, send a text, or direct message people on social media. They believe it’s far more efficient than making a phone call. This isn’t being lazy, it’s using the technology to its best advantage. They grew up using this tech, for them it’s the norm, and we encouraged it. Millennials are brilliant communicators. They communicate with us constantly. As their parents, we’ve trained them to do this. Just because they’re now fully grown adults with kids of their own it doesn’t mean they’ll pick up the phone. We have to train them to do that too.
Millennials Are Well Educated
Every year the education system toughens up. We didn’t learn half the things Millenials have. Are they smarter than us? Of course they are, and we want them to be. They’re really lifelong learners and love to consume digital information quickly. Did the Boomers treat us like we knew nothing? Did the Silent Generation treat them the same way? Of course, they did. But, we can and will stop this cycle of dismissing younger generations as stupid. Millennials have big problems to try and fix. We’ve given them the love of the environment, they want to protect it. We’ve shown them that climate change is an issue and they want to slow it down, stop it, and reverse it. Plastic’s bad? They want to eradicate its use. We need to give them the space to do this instead of thinking they’re thick as they don’t want the things that were inflicted upon us.
They Like Instant Gratification
Don’t hand a millennial a huge manual without an index. They like to be able to find the information they need at the touch of a button and are used to doing that. They grew up being able to do that. When they researched a book report, they went to the internet – not the library where they might have to check out 60 books and spend hours combing through them. Now they can comb through 60 books through an online library and find the keywords they’re looking for within minutes. This is not laziness; it’s efficiency. Let’s face an uncomfortable truth here – you like instant gratification too. You just didn’t get it until later in life.
They’re Full of Confidence
This isn’t being a narcissist, but they may appear a little cocky. We raised our children to feel good about themselves no matter their size, appearance or station in life. They expect to be treated well regardless, and this is not a bad thing. But it can be tricky to communicate with someone with such confidence. We’ll learn how to do it. Because we want great communicators, filled with confidence, changing the world. We nurtured them this way for a reason.
Just as Gen-X changed things for the generation before, this new, smarter, and more efficient generation will change it for us too, and we’ll handle it better won’t we?