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Communication Styles of the Millennials or generation Y. Perceptions about generation y.

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perceptions about generation y
Perceptions about generation y
  • Gen Y is believed to be, “…more accepting of diversity…, have capabilities with advanced communication and information technologies, have the ability to see problems and opportunities from fresh perspectives, and are more comfortable working in teams” (226).
  • Not all attributes are this positive, however, as researchers also found popular sources depicted Gen Y as being overly-confident, self-absorbed, disloyal, lazy, and poor communicators (Meyers & Sadaghiani, 2010, 225)
millennials are described as
Millennials are described as
  • as social learners and tend to work best in a team environment,
  • using peer-to-peer and cooperative learning strategies (Matulich, 2008; McGlynn, 2005; Raines, 2003; Tucker, 2006).
  • They respond to methods that are more horizontal and informal, rather than formal and

vertical (Hanna, 2003).

stereotypical views of millennials
Stereotypical views of millennials

characterize them as

  • technologically sophisticated multitaskers
  • capable of significant contributions to tomorrow’s organizations
  • yet deficient in communication skills.
in singapore
In singapore
  • 3 out of 4 people will adapt their communication styles with colleagues from different generations- Kelly Services
  • 76% of respondents agree that generational differences affect workplace operations, almost half of which say it affects productivity.
  • More than half of total Singapore respondents say they have experienced intergenerational conflicts.
  • Singapore, September 7, 2009 – While three in four people in Singapore will adapt their communication styles to colleagues from a different generation, it is the Generation X (aged 30-47) and Baby Boomers (aged 48-65) who are more willing to do so than their Generation Y (aged 19-29) counterparts.

So, millennials need to hone their interpersonal communication skills to successfully engage with people of all ages and backgrounds. That means the Baby Boomers and Generation X

communication is an interactive process
Communication is an interactive process

A two-way sharing and understanding of information.

  • Improving this process can be accomplished
    • by improving the “fit” between communication styles of senders and receivers.
  • Ideally, one should adapt his or her communication style to the various communication styles present. Millennials can do this by
    • recognizing and understanding their own (preferred) communication style, and
    • recognizing that others also have a preferred style of communicating that may not be one and the same.
millennials will benefit by
Millennials will benefit by
  • Understanding the influence of different communication styles to optimize communication effectiveness.
  • Developing style-typing and style-flexing skills which can serve as building blocks for millennials’ subsequent interpersonal skill development in key areas such as audience analysis, active listening, conflict management and negotiation, and effective team building.

(Hartman & McCambridge, 2011, Business Communication Quarterly, Volume 74, Number 1, March 2011 22-44)

style typing
Style typing

Style-typing is a technique used to understand one’s own communication style as well as the styles of others in the communication process.

  • Of course, we know that no person embodies all the attributes of a particular style;
  • we are all a mixture of various styles. Each of us tends to have a preferred or dominant style, while others may have different preferred styles.
  • The art of effective communication style-typing is to be able to recognize in ourselves and in others the predominant tendencies that may define our preferred communication style.
style flexing

Style-flexing is a follow-up to style-typing. It is based on the concept of reciprocity, which stresses

  • mutual understanding of one another’s communication processes and the development of effective communication relationships.
  • When one realizes that the person with whom he or she is communicating has a different style, it becomes necessary to modify one’s dominant style in order to effectively communicate or to flex to another style to arrive on the same wavelength.


A Towers Watson 2009/2010 Communication ROI Study Report concluded the following:

Communication effectiveness is a leading indicator of financial performance

  • “Companies that are highly effective communicators had 47% higher total returns to shareholders over the last five years compared with firms that are the least effective communicators” (p. 2).
  • Firms that communicate effectively are 4.5 times more likely to report high levels of employee engagement versus firms that communicate less effectively.
  • Companies that are highly effective communicators are 20% more likely to report lower turnover rates than their peers (Ambler, 2006).