Millennials In IT: How To Talk To Old People - InformationWeek

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1/21/2015
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David Wagner
David Wagner
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Millennials In IT: How To Talk To Old People

There are certain phrases that are like passwords to the heart of your IT managers. And, no, I'm not talking about, "I bought you a fresh box of adult diapers."
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(Image: PublicDomanPictures)
(Image: PublicDomanPictures)

Hey Millennials, when the geezers you work with go to bed at 9 p.m., or try to stay awake until they realize Leno isn't on anymore, I want you to whip out your phone and read this. You don't deserve to be treated like they treat you. They've got you all wrong. They've fallen for articles written by site after site (including ours) about how you guys are entitled, spoiled, phone-addicted kids who can't go to the bathroom unless you're in a team.

Not only are such stereotypes insulting, they're wrong. Research shows that you Millennials want the same things from your careers as every other generation. Old people have been shouting, "Hey you kids, get off our lawn," since the days when lawns were outside caves. And every generation calls the next one spoiled and useless. Baby Boomers were called good-for-nothing, long-haired hippies by the "Greatest Generation." You don't even want to know what those hippies called my Generation X. Heck, they stuck us with that name. You know it wasn't going to go well. This is what they think of you:

Here's the truth. Old people are scared of you. They don't get how you easily do things that they struggle with every day. Sure, they've still got a thing or two to show you, but as long as they think you can't speak in sentences longer than 140 characters, they'll never get it.

Here's the deal: I'm going to train you, in a few simple slides, how to talk to old people. There are certain phrases that are like passwords to the heart of your managers, and no, I'm not talking about, "I bought you a fresh box of adult diapers." These are ways old people talk about work. These phrases will show them you're serious about this.

Each slide has a sentence that should work, the myth you're trying to overcome, and some advice. In a week or two, they'll stop shaking their canes at you and trust you to do something besides run the company Twitter feed.

David has been writing on business and technology for over 10 years and was most recently Managing Editor at Enterpriseefficiency.com. Before that he was an Assistant Editor at MIT Sloan Management Review, where he covered a wide range of business topics including IT, ... View Full Bio

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Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
1/21/2015 | 6:30:01 PM
Re: Engagement in the moment
>I have a rule that I never answered my office phone, cell phone IM, or text when in a meeting unless it is an emergency. 

I have a rule that I never attend a meeting unless it's an emergency.
Stratustician
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Stratustician,
User Rank: Ninja
1/21/2015 | 3:13:43 PM
Re: Engagement in the moment
I agree.  I've had bosses in the past who used to shout about the importance of paying attention during meetings and make worthwhile contributions and yet, there they are with their phones on their laps staring at the screens, not participating in any way.  Not only does it just make it harder to prove the value of in person meetings (where useful ofcourse), but it just leaves the wrong impression on others in the room. 
impactnow
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impactnow,
User Rank: Author
1/21/2015 | 12:48:58 PM
Engagement in the moment

Dave very funny-- my favorite was the phone comment because that is the trait that drives me nuts for everyone! Millennials don't have that one cornered. I absolutely hate having a discussion with someone as they gaze downward. If it's that important excuse yourself and return when you can make eye contact. I have a rule that I never answered my office phone, cell phone IM, or text when in a meeting unless it is an emergency. Distractions are not multitasking they waste everyone's time and you lose credibility when you're disengaged from someone.

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