Skip to main content

Staying young

How to communicate with us millennials

Is that an ellipsis? Getty

Millennials have built an “intricate ecosystem of online etiquette”, says Charlotte Ivers in The Sunday Times, which can be difficult for those who remember the “pre-dotcom world” to navigate. So when the generations collide, “unnecessary confusion and hurt ensue”. My friend recently emailed a large document she had laboured over for weeks to her colleagues. At 11pm, her boss replied: “Who wrote this…” He just wanted to check nobody had been overburdened compiling the project. But to my friend, everything about the message – “the timing, the tone, the ellipsis…” – suggested she would soon be collecting her P45. “My conclusion, obviously, was that this man should be put on a one-way flight to the Hague.”

I’ve devised a “guide to help bridge the gap”. First up, the phone call. There are three occasions when you can ring someone without prior warning: 1) you are married to them; 2) you are, “as of less than half an hour ago”, engaged to someone else; 3) someone has died. If you need to phone, always text first. But never just send “Can I drop you a call?” because the recipient will assume either someone has died or they are in “Big Trouble”. If you work for someone or are sleeping with them – “or hope to do either” – never send an emoji. And don’t add “No worries if not though!” to an email asking a colleague to do something for you. You will be “branded as supine” and the outcome of your request will be “not”.