Millennials Appreciate Great Manners in Business
When asking for help, first understand that you are the one in need, period. The understanding of this positioning seems so basic, but often, when the person from who you are seeking for help is a millennial, such basic common sense seems to take a funky turn. Please keep in mind that when you are asking someone to go out of their way to make time to help you achieve your goal, whatever that may be, you must understand that you are the Asker. Please do yourself a favor and make it easier for that person, the Askee, to help you by approaching him or her with gratitude and humility, even when the Askee is a millennial.
It amazes me how lost people are in having this basic etiquette, both in business and in personal relationships. Again, it is important to remember that how we do one thing is often how we do everything else in our lives so it is not surprising how our attitude in business often transfer and translate into our attitude in our personal relationships.
Some manners are so basic and broadly understood across all cultures because it is so obvious. Here are the basic top 5 rules in assuming the role of the Asker, the right way, with good manners so the Askee can happily and willingly fulfill the ask. Remember, the same rule applies to millennial Askee just the same. Let’s not forget that.
The next time you want to give a millennial a so called, “chance” or an “opportunity,” but you secretly know the value that millennial Askee brings to the table, do yourself a favor and assume the role of the Asker with great manners. Believe it or not, when dealing with savvy millennial professionals or entrepreneurs, they can see right through your calculation, and yes, they will be turned off and walk away. Do it more often, they may file a complaint with HR, go on their social media to blast the company after they have already found another job or began their entrepreneurial endeavors
1) Be Honest
I cannot count how often people approach me with a so called “opportunity” that allegedly will help grow my business in amazing ways. By the time I ask the key questions and vet out the individual, who I will call, the so called “opportunity provider,” also known as the Asker who is really asking me for help, I can deduce that what they are actually presenting, is an opportunity for them to ask me for help while disguising it as a great “opportunity” for me.
Let’s stop this altogether. For all the people who think that they have been getting away with practicing such dishonest tactics, guess what? Many of your associates have already read through your dishonest and calculative ways and probably have made a mental note to themselves to draw the line with you. They may smile at your face and still remain cordial, but trust me. If your prospective Askee is a savvy professional, you just lost yourself of future opportunities of many business opportunities that could have been delivered through this person.
I have been presented with many of the so called “opportunities,” and have turned them down because I saw right through them. I was amazed at how many people underestimated my ability to read between the lines and deduce what the true ask was. Please, just be honest. If you are an Asker who needs help, just approach the millennial Askee with honesty and you will have a much better outcome. You also will not jeopardize future opportunities for collaboration, referral or support. Millennial professionals just want you to cut the BS and get straight to the point in an honest way.
2) Be Appreciative
When you are the one in need of help, please be appreciative. One would think all of us got this message from our parents growing up, but it never fails to amaze me how unappreciative some people are, especially in a business setting.
When you are the Asker, show gratitude and show appreciation. That means acknowledge the value the person is providing, and say, “thank you,” followed by respectful action steps. That means, be on time for the meeting be it via in person or call, be the one to take the initiative to approach the Askee, follow through and be respectful of the Askee’s time and show a sign of gratitude. It can be as small as a cup of coffee or a thank you card or an email. It’s the appreciative mindset that counts. Do that often enough and watch that relationship with the Askee blossom into a mutually flourishing one in the future.
It’s funny how the media paints this unappreciative attitude to be a common thread shared by many millennials, but as a millennial business woman, I witnessed first-hand that such entitlement mind-set has more to do with that person’s character and not so much with the generation of the person. In fact, in business dealings between a millennial professional and an older professional, the entitlement, from my experiences have been more prevalent with the older generations at large. Perhaps the entitlement is just a millennial’s way of asking what they rightfully feel and know are due to them for the services they have provided.
Showing signs of appreciation is a basic manner that goes cross generations and culture.
3) Be Fair
Please, be fair. In law we say, be equitable, not in a subjective way, but in an objective way. Please be fair and treat the Askee with the same level of fairness in how you would want to be treated. It does not matter that the Askee may be younger in age, or in your eyes lack some experience, because clearly, if you are asking the Askee for help with something, there is a value that that person brings to the table.
The ask may be small, but it does not matter. Even if you are asking your Askee for something small, be fair when requesting help and acknowledge that you are the one in need. If you know you will monetize from the Askee delivering value, please be fair and provide the Askee with what he or she deserves in return as well.
I cannot tell you how many times people have invited me to come and speak at conferences, emcee events or seek my advice as a consultant presenting the ask as an opportunity for me when both the Asker and I knew that I was delivering a clear value. The Asker seems to completely undermine my ability to realize that the Asker was going to monetize and make a profit from the value that I would deliver.
This one sided and sneaky way of thinking is exactly what turns people off and millennials are no exception! Who in their right mind would feel good with this kind of unfairness? Why would millennials be any different? Millennials, especially those who have realized their value and worth, will be sure to check you and let you know that they are not going for it. Just be fair, period.
4) Be Humble
Some people absolutely need to have more humble pies before initiating a conversation, especially a business conversation. It does not matter what company you are from, be it a fortune 100, 500 or whichever. At the end of the day, if you are a person needing a favor from someone, just be humble and leave the arrogance at home.
Some people feel that just by the virtue of being older than their millennial co-worker or a subordinate, they can get away by talking to them in a condescending manner. Even if you are at a senior position, when you are asking for a favor from their junior colleague who may be younger than them, if that person is a true leader, he or she would absolutely be humble in their tone and attitude.
If not, chances are, he or she is not a true leader, and may only be a LINO – Leaders In Name Only. Ego serves no one. When you are the one who need a favor, even from a millennial who may be lower in seniority than you, please be humble and appreciative. Unbeknownst to you, you may be being rude to the next millennial billionaire innovator.
5) Be Respectful
I remember rudely being awakened by a phone call early in the morning on a Saturday by a professional acquaintance who has recently reached out for help with their new initiative. I offered to help and laid out that I would offer my help, but only within specific parameters, unfortunately this individual thought that gave them the permission to overbearing and ill-mannered. Said individual proceeded to send an email early on a Saturday morning, then immediately followed it by a phone call and then a text message to remind me to check the email.
It was not an urgent matter, and really could have waited until Monday. The manner in how this person corresponded with me clearly lacked business etiquette. This individual did not understand that they were the Asker, asking for my help, and I was the Askee, who was willing to volunteer. This was not a consultant client relationship where it was a paying client, nor was it a situation where they and I were colleagues working for the same organization or collaborating on a project together. Even with such relationships, I would set clear boundaries to not receive calls that early on a weekend. Respecting someone’s personal time and space is common sense, but then again, common sense is not so common these days.
Please remember. Being respectful and saying “thank you” and respecting personal space in business will benefit you tremendously and help make the Askee want to deliver on your ask.
When asking for help, even from a millennial Askee, please remember to be honest, appreciative, fair, humble and respectful. The generation of the person who you are seeking help from is not a justifiable reason to treat that person any less than that. In a nutshell, just treat others as you would like to be treated. We all have been taught this life’s lesson since we were children across all cultures. Let this wisdom serve us well in our business dealings.