I've written before about how I think Millennial-bashing is overblown. Still, it didn't take much prodding to get dozens of people of all generations to email me and let me know what speaking habits they think Millennials need to stop using now--at least at work.
Here are 12 of the most-complained-about speaking habits Millennials use. (Let me know which others we should add to this list--or if you think other generations have their own list of things they shouldn't say.)
1. Saying things like: "It seems like my time would be best spent..."
"This person sounds responsible, but they've potentially ditched the team's goals and priorities for their own preferences. They want to do what they want to do--but what if they are missing the whole point of owning the big picture and what's needed? ... [M]aybe, truthfully, they think they just can't do it."
--Andy Hooper, vice president, Gap International
2. "I can't even."
"This sarcastic phrase indicating a breaking point or speechlessness is entirely overused and can undermine the speaker's professionalism. ... What is acceptable in a casual meeting at the coffee shop may not be well received by co-workers from an older generation."
--Katie Kern, PR and marketing director, Media Frenzy Global
"As a Millennial myself, I can tell you the biggest thing my generation needs to get rid of is using the word 'like' with such excessiveness. [T]here is nothing that will [lead you to being] dismissed more quickly than a few too many 'likes' during a meeting or on a call."
--Peter Mertens, associate, Burson-Marsteller
"We literally need to stop overusing literally. It's literally useless to toss it in every sentence. [W]e literally don't recognize that we're abusing the literal meaning of the word. Fellow Millennials, please join me in banning the word from our vocabulary -- I'm literally begging you."
--Greg Rudolph, founder and CEO, BoardBlazers.com
"One of the most common habits I've noticed [among] Millennials (including myself) is using the word 'man' in sentences, making them sound less professional: 'All rright man, that sounds good.' ... In many cases it just comes across as unprofessional. Honestly, I have this habit and it's something I'm trying to break."
--Brandon Howard, owner, All My Web Needs
"A lot of Millennials like to use the word 'dude' when they're in a professional setting. ... Most older professionals won't take you seriously if you use the word dude as it's too casual and makes you sound immature."
--Michelle Kop, marketing specialist, GMR Transcription
7. "Yeah, yeah, yeah..."
"'Yeah, yeah, yeah' [suggesting that the listener wants the speaker to hurry up and finish so that he or she can speak.] It's important for Millennials to demonstrate to older generations that they are active listeners. ... At its worst, this may make them come off as a know-it-all with a short attention span."
--Brandon Shockley, qualitative researcher and marketing strategist, Plannerzone, Inc.
"I often receive replies from young people that say, 'ya,' 'yah,' or 'yup.' I have had written correspondence, particularly in email, with this one word as a reply. ... I'm not alone. Many professionals cringe at this response. It feels overly familiar, lazy, and disrespectful. Especially when 'yes' takes the same amount of time to type as 'yah' or 'yup.' "
--Lida Citroen, principal, Lida 360
9. Speaking with a rising tone of voice.
"Practice having an authoritative tone which tends to go down a third of an octave at the end of a sentence in which you want to make a point. That unconsciously communicates your taking a stance and also something you stand for to other people."
--Mark Goulston, founder and co-CEO, the Goulston Group
10. Making not-really-an-excuse excuses.
"Examples: 'I'm sorry I'm late, my cross-fit class was so hard this morning and I needed some extra recovery time.' Or: 'I know the project was due yesterday but I was at a charity event last night and ate something bad and wasn't feeling so well this morning.' "
--Christine DiDonato, founder, Career Revolution Inc.
11. Oversharing (the wrong things).
"I've had Millennial clients sa[y], 'I never had a college internship because I was too busy playing soccer, and now I can't get a job.' ... But, it turns out that they had a sports scholarship, and made Dean's List all four years and were close to going pro. ... When I ask if they tell interviewers all that, they look surprised: 'Um, no...why? Should I?'"
--Carlota Zimmerman, career coach, Carolota World Wide
12. Talking too fast.
"[Y]oung people often want to prove themselves, [and they] speak fast so they get heard at all. They need to slow down. ... For all ages the rule of thumb is: The more time you give yourself, the more status people give you."
--Debra Benton, executive coach