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SHOW DATE: JULY 10, 2013

Be afraid. Be very afraid. One out of every three workers is now a Millennial—you know, those 20-something, entitled, narcissistic snot-nosed brats that are taking over the world and leaving you in the dust your own fart kicked up. And by 2020, they will be half of the workforce. Did I mention be afraid?

Don’t worry; the world isn’t coming to an end. You still have a chance at survival, and you still have a shot at becoming the go-to guy who bridges the gap between the old and the new. Here are five steps that will help you elevate your status with the Millennials and get promoted in the process:

1)   Realize that you have to adapt:  you have to stop living in your world of blissful ignorance and realize that the Millennials don’t have to adapt to your old ways—you have to adapt to theirs. You might be asking, “why the hell would I do that? Our generation raised these kids!” Sound familiar? Yep, that’s your dad talking. And his dad talking to him. And his dad… well, you get it. So the next time you ask a Millennial to put their phone away and they give you a look like you’re asking them to kill their own mother, just remember, you’re in their world now. If you don’t adapt, you’ll die out.

2)   Understand where they’re coming from: OK, so you realize you have to adapt or you’ll stay stagnant (or, worse yet, out of a job), but you’re still baffled by the Millennials’ attitude, their insolent deflection of anything you try to impose on them. You accuse them of their wrongdoings and you try to act like their coach—after all, tough love is how you were taught manners—but to no avail; they still persist in their entitled ways. But what you have to realize is that Millennials don’t respond to tough love. Their parents didn’t tell them to eat their vegetables; they asked them if they wanted to eat their vegetables. Now this doesn’t mean all Millennials weren’t raised with tough love, but it does mean that most will respond better if you approach them in a less direct and accusatory way.

3)   Praise them before you criticize them: take note of this point and praise them before you criticize them. On to the next step…

4)   Change your ways, or risk becoming a dinosaur: Everything is changing, the world is changing, the workforce is changing. Are you going to be left behind? Here’s an example on how to adjust your mindset and keep up with the times. Are the young’uns’ phones out during a meeting? Don’t be mom or dad and tell them to put it away—they may be looking up something relevant that will push the topic in a more productive direction. Or they may be texting their BFF how badly they want a cheeseburger right about now. Either way, if you’re not going to accept that this generation is immersed in technology at all times then you’re going to become a dinosaur. And finally…

5)   Learn how to communicate on their level: let’s continue this point with step number four’s example. Their cell phones are out and it’s distracting you, and this time you know they’re not researching the meeting’s topic because their hands are under the desk and they keep stealing furtive glances at the speaker to make sure he’s not looking. Remember step number three? Try saying this after the meeting: “I wish I knew how to text as well as you do and keep attention to the meeting, but it really makes me feel like I’m not being heard, and it’s a bit distracting. So maybe next time we can agree to just not have the phones out?” Once you learn to distance that parental, tough-love approach your own parents used on you and begin to understand and reasonably speak with the Millennials, you will become the guy who understands them, the guy they can talk to when they want to communicate with the rest of the indignant geezers who scoff at them, and the guy who will ultimately get promoted.

At the end of the day, you’re going to be retired and they’ll be running the show. And that’s why you have to be a solution to the problem and bridge the gap between the old and the young, making the transition as smooth as possible for everybody. Basically, be their emissary. Not only will you elevate your status, but you will also further your own career because you will have the skills to adapt while most your age will stay sheltered in their conch shells of ignorance and elitism.


By Aleksandr Smechov

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