The millennials are under fire. And it’s the same story: Detractors insist that kids in their early twenties operate under a constant delusion of self-importance, and are consequently ignorant when it comes to etiquette and courtesy.
Etiquette Schools Are Thriving
Businessweek is less interested in the interns and more interested in those serving as their saviors. This year, etiquette schools in cities along the East Coast have reported an increase in enrollment for their classes, and that a good number of the new students are considerably younger than the average 50-year-old enthusiast. As they say, “It’s a great time to be a professional etiquette coach.”
Equal Opportunity Doesn’t Create Equals
Etiquette instructors continue with the same assertion: Young people are out of line. From Businessweek:
While plenty of millennials blame their unemployment on the recession, some business leaders insist that it's as much their fault as the job market's. “They’ve grown up with this Web 2.0 mentality that there’s complete equality in the world,” says Patricia L. Bower, clinical associate professor of management communication at New York University’s Stern School of Business. “They think, ‘If everyone has access to the same information, then we’re all equal, so I know as much as you do even though I’m 20 and you’re 55.’
Changing Times Leave Young People Adrift.
We’re on board with the idea of professionalism and self-awareness, but we would also like to point out that these kids are navigating an unprecedented work culture. Entire companies wear jeans to the office. Supervisors communicate via text. Everyone is attached to a cell phone. Facebook is considered a networking tool rather than a homework deterrent. In many places, business culture has changed so drastically in the last ten years that it’s created a divide between those who remember a different mentality and those who don’t realize it existed. While millennials may sometimes be at fault, we’re also trying desperately to figure out our role.
So, etiquette instructors (and employers): Don’t marvel at our ignorance. Either accept that codes of professional conduct are quickly changing in the internet age, or enlighten us about your expectations instead.
Editor’s Note: This article has been amended after outcry from our commenters. We, being “millennials” (does anyone actually use that word?) ourselves, never meant to assert on behalf of LearnVest that our generation is more than caught in the crossfire of a changing business culture.