Just like all younger generations, members of the Millennial Generation (those born between 1981 and 2001) struggle with being taken seriously at work. But why should they be taken seriously? They are lazy, entitled, high-maintenance, in need of handholding, and unwilling to pay their dues…right? Wrong.
Those are the common stereotypes of the Millennial Generation and you can read about them everywhere. In fact, it seems like the media nearly overdoses on dissecting and analyzing everything about Millennials (also known as Gen Y).
I’m guilty too. I’ve written about how to speak so Gen Y will listen, recruiting and retaining Millennials, quick tips for managing Millennials, ways to motivate them and much more. But this time I’m not going to talk about Millennials; I’m going to talk to them.
Millennials, this post is for you. While I can’t dispel all the stereotypes about your generation in one post, I can help you when it comes to being taken more seriously at work.
Here are nine tips for Millennials to be taken more seriously at work:
Tip 1: Let People Talk About Themselves And Listen To Them Carefully.
People love talking about themselves. Why? Because talking about themselves makes them happy, literally. Harvard University’s Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Lab found that self-disclosure activates two parts of the dopamine system in the brain, both associated with pleasurable feelings.
However, this tip isn’t just about making others talk. When it comes to being taken more seriously, your ability to truly listen to others will earn trust and respect.
Regardless of generation, our attention span is a whopping 17 seconds and our brain works 100 times faster than we speak. It’s not easy to listen and it takes practice. So what can you do?
Start by being aware that there are three levels of listening: Read more about listening and watch a video on the lost art of listening here.
Tip 2: Work On Tone, Grammar And Overall Rhetoric. Edit Ruthlessly.
Younger generations always have slang; text messaging just made it worse. Despite that, grammar still matters! So edit all of your correspondence with care, and pay close attention to your actual language when speaking.
Also, take a video of yourself speaking or ask a friend to observe you, in order to identify the “um” or “like” filler words dominating your conversations. It’s better to pause when looking for the word you’re saying next, than fill it with an unnecessary filler word. Pausing is actually quite powerful.
How so? When you pause during a conversation, you slow the conversation down and gain control. People look up and pay attention when there is a pause. That’s the way to be taken more seriously.
Tip 3: Know What’s Going On In The World.
To combat the stereotype that Generation Y is entitled and lazy, you need to be even more on point with current events than others. It’s imperative that you know not only what is going on in your industry locally, but also globally. Make sure that you are also aware of non-industry current events.
Tip 4: Be Both Humble And Confident.
Asking for feedback is a great way to be taken more seriously. It takes confidence and humility to ask a client or colleague what they think of your performance. But be prepared to take that feedback in a non-reactionary way and make changes as needed.
PS-This is a great time to use those listening skills!
Tip 5: Brush Up On Business Etiquette. Dress Like A Professional.
The Millennial generation is seen as more casual than others. They rang in the era of jeans at work and have widespread causal relationships with higher-ups due to social media. Be aware of this perception and make an effort to brush up on business etiquette and dressing appropriately. Dressing appropriately doesn’t mean the same thing in every industry. While a corporate law firm may require a suit and tie, dress jeans may be more appropriate at a startup. So know your audience.
Speaking of etiquette, always be early for all meetings, calls and events. You need to dispel the myth that you’re lazy, so show up ready for action!
Tip 6: Display Accountability.
Displaying accountability will work wonders for your quest to be taken more seriously. When something goes wrong, take responsibility. Absolutely never throw anyone else under the bus. Why? The outcome of throwing someone under the bus will be worse for your reputation than the outcome of owning up to your mistake.
Tip 7: Show Conviction. Don’t Always Say Yes.
Question and challenge thinking respectfully with open-ended questions. Your opinion and creativity are valuable, so don’t give them up in an effort to avoid rocking the boat.
Tip 8: Keep Posture Open And Upright.
Not only does body language affect the way others see you, it also affects how you see yourself. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy explains this well in her TED Talk, “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are.” Watch the video below and learn how postures of confidence affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, allowing you to be taken more seriously.
Tip 9. Be Way More Prepared Than You Think You Need To Be. Every Time.
Always prepare for at least five questions you’ll be asked or objections someone will make to your idea. This will give you confidence and show others that you are ready. If a pitch is involved, practice it forwards and backwards so you can always jump in when the time is right and shorten it if you’re given 10 minutes less than you expected.
The good news is that following these tips will do more than just help you be taken more seriously. They will also prepare you for success as you continue on your career journey. In fact, half of these tips are great for leaders, which may be your goal. So keep them safe in your back pocket; you never know when they’ll come in handy.