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Millennials Say, "Can We Talk Instead of Text?"

Jill Jacinto

Millennials: Put down your phone, don’t send another email, and fight the urge to G-chat. It’s time to talk . . . in person.

When it comes to the workplace, millennials prefer connecting face to face. A Bentley University survey discovered that 51 percent of millennials prefer talking in person at the office.

That’s right — they want to go back to basics. Why? Millennials may use technology like email, text and G-chat for their personal life, but understand face time is a valuable asset at the workplace. Shockingly, only 7 percent of millennials prefer G-chatting as their favored mode of communication with coworkers. 

Here are five reasons millennials prefer to chat face-to-face:

Mixed messages

Communicating through writing is tricky. You can’t tell tone, emotion or rationale in people’s responses. Is someone sending a quick one-word email because they’re busy, or is the email so short because they think your idea stinks? Only 19 percent of millennials surveyed rank email as a preferred communication mode at the office. 

You have two hours to prepare a presentation for your client and need answers ASAP. The best way to get these answers is in person. Your co-worker might be on a call, reading Buzzfeed or writing a pitch, and might miss the urgent email/Skype call/texts you’ve been sending the last 30 minutes. Is there anything worse than texting or emailing back and forth all day long but not making any real progress on your projects? When time is of the essence — head over to their cube.

More direction 

Millennials are the new kids on the block in terms of the work world. While they don’t need an executive to hold their hand, they do want concise instructions on the projects they’ll be working on. Millennials may be the Google generation, but that doesn’t mean they don’t require a bit of guidance. Bentley’s Director for the Center of Marketing Technology, Ian Cross, says, “Particularly in the beginning of their career, millennials need more validation than previous generations. They like praise, and they want clear direction as to what their manager may be asking of them, which explains their desire to speak to a colleague in person.”  

Creating relationships

You could text, Snapchat and G-chat all day long with your officemates and clients, but the only way to create meaningful relationships is through speaking in person. Learning about their upcoming trip, the last concert they went to or if they’ve watched the latest “Homeland” episode builds a sense of camaraderie. These relationships carry over into your work. You’ll be more comfortable to share your ideas and brainstorm with a co-worker (especially an older co-worker) you’ve been able to chat with. Aaron Nurick, a professor of management and psychology at Bentley, says “Millennials yearn for more personal communication and real relationships, in part because these opportunities have become so rare for this generation.”

Paper trail

Remember that time you emailed your friend about your sorority sister’s ugly wedding dress only to discover she forwarded that message to 10 other people — including your newly married sorority sister? Millennials are wise to this game — especially at the office. They are aware that Big Brother is watching and could read that message about your co-worker’s shoddy work style or business-trip antics. Some interoffice issues need to be solved offline and behind closed doors. You don’t want a series of emails to turn up that make you look like the bad guy.

Jill Jacinto is a Bentley PreparedU ambassador, as well as the associate director of career brand WORKS and millennial career expert for AOL Jobs.