Talking to Millennials

They don’t really speak a different language, but we give some advice
on communicating with millennials anyway.

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Much (probably too much) attention has been paid to understanding and communicating with millennials, like they are aliens from another planet. In reality, it’s not that millennials are so different—every younger generation has had its own lingo and way of looking at the world—it’s that the methods they use to communicate are different.

New technology

Let’s face it, if you were born a millennial (loosely 1980 to 2000—give or take a few years and who you ask), you likely don’t know of a world before computers or cell phones. The rest of the dinosaurs roaming the planet have distinct memories of cords wrapped around doorframes tethering them to walls, as well as tiny bottles of a thing called “Wite-Out” because the typewriter didn’t have a delete button. But those are discussions for another day.

Back to our point. The obvious takeaway here is that the means of communication for millennials took a big leap into the future—were talking The Jetson’s-style future—and some of the world still has some catching up to do. If you want to communicate better with millennials, you simply must master mobile technology and social media. It’s how they connect, relate and live.

Changing communication rules

Two big things you may need to focus on when it comes to communicating more effectively with millennials are being concise and being responsive. Obviously, no one enjoys a three-page email where the main points are buried at the end. But growing up in a world, where images disappear in a few seconds and your messages are limited to 140 characters has impacted how millennials communicate. Don’t be afraid to cut to the chase.

Secondly, while you are being concise, it’s also important to remember to be responsive. Technology has enabled immediate answers, and for the generation that has never known anything different, they have come to expect a more instantaneous style of communication.

The generation gap

Every generation has a period of time when it is more challenging to connect with those that came before them. It’s simply a fact of life. One simple and easy way to overcome that in your organization or in your communication strategy is to ask those individuals to be involved. Ask them to join in your focus groups, find out what they are interested in, discover what they dislike. When we get to know one another, understanding almost always follows.