My Commentary: While as a millennial, I by no means agree with all of the context below from my esteemed friend and colleague Chris Westfall, however I felt that his post below was a well thought out and meaningful piece on Millennials that would be interesting to share among this community of leaders.

When Cathryn Sloane wrote the piece on why every Social Media Manager should be under the age of 25 she probably didn’t even begin to consider the consequences of her actions. While her points were not ALL wrong, her post was short sighted and the irony was she didn’t foresee that the very tool she claims that only her youthful generation should manage would be the same tool that would cost substantial damage to her reputation. (Bad Management?)

The point below that Chris makes about using the story as the key to our communication is so important. Storytelling transcends every generation and regardless of our age and experience it allows us to relate so much easier.

To his point I would like to add two more things that are so important for us as millennials to consider and really for everyone to think about. Perhaps if Cathryn had considered the fallout may have been less detrimental to her future. (However, I hope people realize that she is young, prone to mistakes, and they give her a chance because I’m sure she will grow!)

  • There are few absolutes in the world. We need to be extremely careful when we make statements that are absolute because it rarely is the case.
  • We need to own our mistakes. Cathryn (at least as far as I have seen) never came out and responded to the comments that came from her post. I believe as a young leader a humble apology and perhaps a willingness to admit a certain shortsightedness would have mitigated and eliminated much of the back lash.

 
To some extent, I’d of at least like to have seen her come out and defend her points. The complete silence almost feels like admitting defeat or a non-chalance that our generation can’t afford to have. If we are going to have the audacity to claim superiority on Social Platforms then we better be prepared to defend it on those same platforms.

Nevertheless, she should have done something, and I think she still should. (SIGH) Tell the story, make it compelling, but just know it is almost never absolute.

Please give Chris’ piece below a read and let me know what you think. What else are we as millennials missing? Or do the Boomers have it all wrong? Of course, it probably isn’t either or…

Chris, I’ll let you take it from here.

 

Here’s why Millennials can’t communicate: Cathryn Sloane, a recent University of Iowa grad, has found herself in the middle of a social media controversy. In essence, she argues that the only people that understand how to use social media and online communication tools are under the age of 25. I’m saddened by her article, and the responses she has received. Here’s why:

I’m passionate about helping people to tell their stories in ways that are authentic and compelling. My business is the business of persuasion. I’m not persuaded to give up on the Millennial generation, or any generation, when it comes time to make a real connection. We all have stories to tell, and we owe it to one another to learn how to effectively deliver a message. However, as the self-appointed spokesperson for her generation of social media wizards Millennials, Cathryn hasn’t done herself any favors.

Every generation has communication challenges. So does every gender, every political party, every corporate executive – even national champions. No one is immune from the need to consider how others will react to the message.

For many Millennials, the ability to communicate effectively (without a keyboard) is an elusive skill. Cathryn’s rant does nothing to reverse this reputation, and the fact that she somehow managed to get her story onto a national platform has created an outpouring of “please shut up” where do you get off? who appointed you queen of the twitterverse? varied sentiments.

For a fresh perspective on Gen Y communication and leadership, I highly recommend a visit with the Millennial CEO.

Yet, I believe in the Millennial generation. In fact, when I won the national elevator pitch championship in the ‘118’ competition, my message focused on helping these young leaders in a difficult economy. (If you’d like to see that video, it’s located right here). My feelings haven’t changed, and neither has my commitment to the leaders of tomorrow. And that’s not hyperbole – that’s a fact.

Poor communication is not generation-specific. Each of us, in spite of our age, skin color, sexual preference, shoe size, or stature has a communication issue.

The challenge?

Creating a story that gets others engaged, with a message that says, “Tell me more…”

Having access to social media doesn’t make you an expert on the subject. Nor does your age. Or gender. Check out the comments, from the NextGen article – here are a couple of people I really respect, weighing in on the latest social media misstep:
Shelly DeMotte Kramer Comments on NextGen

Cathryn got engagement, but not the kind of positive dialogue that leads to anything. Except, maybe, dropping her twitter account?
Tim McDonald - Huffington Post, comments on NextGen

Before you turn on the fire hose of “what your generation deserves”, why not consider what you can do for others? A self-serving rant does nothing to create a connection, or challenge the status quo in a meaningful way.

We owe it to ourselves to understand how to cross cultural boundaries, and deliver a message that fits for our listener. Proclaiming one generation as superior is naive and shortsighted. No one has cornered the market on social media; after all, it’s simply a tool for communication.

One day, perhaps we will set aside our age differences and other prejudices and understand that effective communication requires one thing from all generations:

 

Considering your listener. Without that consideration, Millennials can’t communicate. Neither can anyone else.

When you make the second person first, your message becomes more meaningful.

Celebrating the self-serving misplaced over-rated differences of your generation, gender, organization or ethnic background is simply a form of prejudice. Is that prejudice the reason why Millennials can’t communicate?

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  • How can you create a message that is persuasive for multiple generations?
  • What have you done to reach beyond the boundaries of your generation?

It would be a sad day indeed if we were only equipped to talk to people who are within a select age demographic – even if they are the true experts of social media! 🙂