What is The Millennial Trap? I like to think of The Millennial Trap as a metaphor for how millennials can let their stereotypes get the best of them. Each generation has their own set of standards and culture but the millennial generation has had quite a cultural shift from the previous generation. With advances in technology and communication our generation has grown up surrounded by the comfort and love of screens from all sorts of devices. This has enabled us to gain insight and intuition towards our ever expanding social and technological experience. This can also put is in harms way. The harm being a generalization of negative characteristics associated with our generations reaction to this expansion. Sarah Rose Attman of Entrepreneur wrote about five negative stereotypes found in Millennials:
- Being impatient
- Having the attention span of a 5 year old
- Wanting fame and fortune and everything in between
- Obsessing with the online world
- Lacking experience and and our maturity level
- (Graph from HRMC)
Ms. Attman went on to say that these traits can be thought of as positives (Entrepreneur Article). There are redeeming qualities in each but understanding the pitfalls of each should be paramount. By understanding where we may exert these traits we can began to work on what aspects of the same trait are helpful. For example, “obsessing with the online world” could be expanded upon to show that millennials have the innate ability to search and find relevant information among millions of pages. Not all traits are as they seem.
What can you do about it?
As we mentioned earlier understanding can be the key to unlocking the power behind such qualities. But how do we go about understanding our own traits? It can be hard to imagine how we appear to others and reading people cannot always be the easiest task. In order to help examine how you may contributing to the negative aspect of the trait one may want to take a step back. By taking a step back I mean consider how your peers and others interact. One article that helps examine how millennials are viewed is an article for Forbes by T. Scott Gross (article here). Gross examines how millennials interact and what they can do to combat these views. But first we must ask ourselves what stands out? Do we quickly loose interest like Ms. Attman suggests or are we impatient and immature? By examining how we as a generation interact, we can begin to identify opportunities for improvement where a message may be delivered without the negative connotations of our generation.
Time for Action!
Once we have targeted qualities that have the potential for miscommunication and tension I suggest familiarizing oneself with how the message may be interpreted. For example, one characteristic I have noticed about millennials is that we are not a fan of hierarchy and see most individuals as peers. This differs from past generations where hierarchies dominated work and social life. When communicating with someone of an older generation it may be wise to consider how they view this hierarchical trait and then adjust your demeanor to match something more relatable. I do not mean be un-authentic self but rather showing respect for values of the past that may still be followed by others.
I hope this has been helpful and works as a jumping point towards understanding and better communicating. Stereotypes surround us and these negative generalizations can be fought. One quality I have not mentioned but can help fight off such assumptions is individualism. Individualism is critical to diversity and diversity can help lend views from many perspectives. By being an individual one can work to combat such stereotypes via understanding and expression. So I urge anyone reading to go out and be different. Generalizations come from assumptions made about groups with similar traits. By being an individual we can work to combat this group mentality and thus ward off negative generalizations!