Don’t roll your eyes right away. I’m not talking about decoding our acronyms for things [examples: LOL (laugh out loud), BTW (by the way), IDK (I don’t know), BAE (before anyone else)]. I’m talking about understanding our at-work language. Learning to decode Millennial speak in the workplace will not only help Millennials, but will help you develop and maintain great talent. So this is important!


I’ve read my share of dating blogs. I always find it funny (yet relatively accurate) when male writers try to advise their male readers how to decipher the things women say and determine what they actually mean. Similarly, Millennials have an at-work language that might be a bit tough to understand. Perhaps you’ve had a situation where your Millennial team member has said one thing and then actions communicate something completely different. There’s a reason for this.


As millennials, we’ve grown up in a society that is so connected, it’s not even funny. We’ve found out through the Internet that people get offended by everything and that, typically, the offender is accosted for having the audacity to have a differing opinion. Millennials also know that we’re young, we’re new, and so, we’ve got to prove ourselves before our thoughts and suggestions are taken seriously. This has been a struggle of mine in the workplace. I’m not one to tread lightly just because I’m talking with or working with someone who gets paid more than I do.


The fact of the matter is, the Technological Revolution has made this world, this market, this workforce 100 percent different from what it was when Gen X’ers were entering the workforce. We’re all going through this together, so embrace the youths. Here’s s little cheat sheet to get your conversations on track:


“That could work.” This basically means, “I’m not a fan of this idea.” However, because we’ve been raised to be a good team member, we’re not going to come out and tell you your idea isn’t the best. We will, however, offer some suggestions to fix it if we’re asked.


“Can I get your feedback?” This doesn’t translate to, “Give me a medal and a smile and send me on my way.” We genuinely want your feedback. But it has to be constructive. If you weren’t happy with something, tell us why, and tell us how we could have done it better. We’re quick learners, so we’ll surely course correct and move forward. And if we don’t, perhaps it’s time for a deeper conversation.


“I have some ideas for that project.” Depending on how long we’ve been with your organization, this could go a couple of ways. If it’s less than six months, it’s likely we are looking for ways to get ahead quickly. I think ideas should always be entertained, but if the person is too new, be cautious. If it’s over six months, this could be a way to say I’m getting bored with what’s on my plate now and I’m looking for something else to dig into. Either way, always listen to new ideas, and then determine a course of action.


“Why are we doing this again?” This is a way of saying we’re not connecting the dots. Please don’t interpret this as being combative. We’re simply looking for the bottom line and how that connects to us. Millennials are big into the What’s In It For Me. Knowing that will help you steer conversations in the right direction.


Want some more help deciphering Millennials? Check out these other posts from our partner site, Third Sector Today.

Why I Left My Job. And Why Most Millennials Leave Their Jobs

How to Increase Millennial Engagement and Impact

Fundraising Top Tips: Appealing to Millennials (Podcast)


What are some other things Millennials say that you just don’t get? Tell us in the comments and I’ll try and help you decode!