We are sharing our thoughts with our blog readers in 8 easy-to-read chunks. In this blog (the second in the series) and the next, we describe some characteristics of Millennials that may help you in understanding these young people.
Of course, individuals differ. Subcultures of racial groups and economic groups also exist. This means that observers who cite characteristics may actually be considering only whites, or Hispanics, Blacks or Asian young people. They may be considering only middle-class folks as those defining the generation. In spite of stereotyping or gross generalizations, however, there is often truth in the claims. With this caution, I’ll share with you some of the characteristics that have been noted and let you decide if they give you insight to clients or teammates you know.
Part I: Five Characteristics of Millennials
1. Technologically savvy
Millennials are considered “digital natives” – the first generation to be brought up with computers. You may have noticed that they are the early adopters and the ones that can locate and operate the technology that you need. They expect anytime/anywhere communications, as well as speed and convenience.
2. Tolerant and in support of equality
The common wisdom is that the Millennials are more accepting of differences – accepting same-sex marriage and open to the legalization of marijuana.
When it comes to racial tolerance, however, the data is mixed. On the one hand, The Chicago Tribune, cited by Gene Demby when writing for NPR, called the Millennial generation the most tolerant generation ever. It is something that Millennails say about themselves.
On the other hand, Demby found that both black and white survey respondents said that they grew up in homes where race was not discussed at all. Furthermore, public schools are more segregated now than they were 40 years ago.
Technology has shrunken our globe. The Millennial generation has grown up with instant, live information being available from all over the world.
Yet, this is another characteristic about which there is mixed data. On the one hand, Dr. Gamaliel Perruci, Professor of Leadership Studies at Marietta College, observes an increasing level of integration around common patterns of consumption.
On the other hand, political scientist Benjamin R. Barber points out that many Millennials around the world resist globalization and have become narrowly aligned to a parochial agenda.
4. Socially Responsible
Citing the Millennials’ experience with 9/11 and ongoing fears of terrorism, Michael Unger concludes that these folks have a desire to help others, as described in his book, The We Generation: Raising Socially Responsible Kids.
Journalist Peter Chen sees a similar phenomenon, based on a different aspect of Millennial experience – the downed economy. He has dubbed this group as “a generation of quiet rebels on the path to find a non-traditional, soul-enriching, values-fueled existence.”
Contrary to glowing and hopeful forecasts for this generation as more civic-minded with a desire to help others and work toward improving the environment, Jean Twenge found evidence that many in this generation are narcissistic and self-centered with unrealistic high expectations.
In the blogs that follow we will describe five more characteristics of Millennials and how those characteristics play out as your teammates or clients.
That’s it for today.
~ Carolyn and John
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