(Mis) perceptions of Generation Y in the Workplace (Part 2)
Generation Y has been stereotyped as entitled, coddled, demanding, and dependent. But do these descriptions really fit? The Public Speaker shows 9 ways how communication can change perceptions and close the gap between Baby Boomers and Gen Y.
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Tip #6: Find a Mentor
Approach a respected professional and ask them to help you navigate the business and be your advocate. Mentors (and particularly sponsors) who already have established power can provide guidance and pave the way for you. Many companies have a mentorship program, but if yours doesn’t, you can ask your manager for a mentor or find someone you look up to and feel you have a connection with. My colleague Get-It-Done Guy has a great episode on Choosing a Mentor.
Tip #7: Be Diplomatic
Focus on the positive even when expressing disagreement, be open to other points of view, and remain relaxed and calm. Coworkers may be expecting you to be arrogant or disrespectful (those are typical Gen Y traits). Being respectful and positive will go a long way to change that perception.
Tip #8: Eliminate Disfluencies
Disfluencies are any words that interrupt the flow of our message or distract our listener. The most popular disfluencies in American speech are “like,” “um,” “ah,” “you know,” “whatever,” and so forth. These all take away from your professional demeanor and may cause your audience to tune out. Practice speaking without disfluencies at home. If you want to be taken seriously, save the “valley girl” speak for a night out with friends.
Tip #9: Take Responsibility for Your Actions
Always take responsibility for your actions. If you make an early mistake, take the credit for it and let your manager know what you’ll do to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Don’t point fingers or try to share blame.
You may be reading this and thinking “Uh oh, it’s too late!”
It isn’t! Improving your image takes some work, but it can be done.
Recovering from negative impressions takes one and half to two times longer than creating a positive impression. It takes a consistent demonstration of all of the above (and more). It may require a fundamental shift in attitude as well as someone advocating on your behalf.
It can be done, but takes effort and understanding of wide range of communication skills and techniques. It is the reason I wrote my book Smart Talk – to help professionals in any field recover from communication challenges or create positive impressions. Often we don't know what we don't know until we run into hot water. If you’re up for a challenge, consider taking the Smart Talk Challenge. Complete the challenge you just might win yourself an Apple iPad mini!