Millennials are about to make up the biggest percentage of the working population. Actually, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of the 2015 census, they already are — having recently surpassed Generation X-ers — totaling 53.5 million, or about 34%. With that in mind, it’s time to start adjusting to the way millennials work and interact. It can be a tricky situation to navigate, but certainly one that’s worth exploring. We wrote recently about dealing with millennials in the workplace, and we’re back to specifically explain why they won’t answer your calls even though they spend the whole day staring at their phones.
Learning to Speak Their Language
The millennial is a unique beast with many seemingly odd habits when it comes to technology and communication. Communicating with millennials requires adjusting to these habits. (We want to pause and point out that not all millennials are difficult to communicate with. This is just a generic lumping based on the stereotype that they don’t communicate well.) Here’s a brief explanation that might give you better luck reaching the younger working generation.
- Digital Nativity: Even the least observant observer will notice that millennials seem to always have their noses buried in a screen. It isn’t laziness or social ineptitude. That’s just how they grew up — in a time when all of the life-changing digital technologies that we enjoy today were first coming onto the scene. There’s a term in communications theory called “Digital Nativity” that explains how this works, and it’s worth a Google if you have the time. But as such, these digital natives prefer to speak in their native tongue, where they can control communication on their own time and in their own comfort zones. Texting, emailing, and social media interactions are their primary forms of communication.
- The Workaround: Of course, there are instances in which phone calls are much easier or even necessary. And let us be clear that millennials do still answer the phone. They just like to know when it’s coming. In a world where they communicate so significantly through digital media, they see phone calls as intrusive, often coming from telemarketers or other phone “spam,” especially when coming from an unknown number. The key is reaching out to millennials digitally before trying to call, typically via email. It will let them know that the call is coming, give them time to prepare for the call, and save you the hassle of hearing their voicemail greeting over and over.
The fact of the matter is that the world we live in, and the way we communicate in it, is changing more significantly and rapidly than ever before. It can be frustrating to keep up with, but fighting it is a losing battle. It sure doesn’t look like we’ll be going back any time soon.
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