Are Millennials Ruder?

There was an article in BusinessWeek about how the demand for etiquette training is up because millennials are entering the workforce clueless about how to interact properly with others. The article stated among other things, that they don’t use email properly — using acronyms, abbreviations and emoticons. That they don’t know their place as the new kid in the office, thinking if the boss does it I can do it. And, they are not dressing appropriately for the workplace.

The article quoted many etiquette consultants about their experience working with millennials. They all stated the same thing; that many people entering the workforce today are in serious need of etiquette training.

Enter an article written by a millennial, David Teicher, for Advertising Age. He was bothered the article painted such a broad stereotypical brush about a generation. He stated that it was a clever PR move by “some woman’s etiquette school.”

My thoughts: I do think many millennials entering the workforce today are missing some soft skills. They have grown up connecting online, they were raised by two working parents who were busy and distracted, and, most importantly, they are growing up in a time when people are just ruder and there seems to be more tolerance for it. More tolerance, that is, until it affects the bottom line – they lose a client because of their table manners, they fail to get an important referral because they answered their cell phone during the meeting or they alienate their coworkers by interrupting them all the time.

Further, I totally disagree this was a PR ploy by “some woman’s etiquette school”. Several etiquette consultants were interviewed for the article and if it was just one etiquette school trying to get clients the PR firm didn’t do a very good job of making that one “woman’s school” stand out.

I do think we have to be careful not to stereotype one group. There are rude and oblivious people in all generations. What it comes down to is did someone learn — whether at home, at school or in the workplace — that manners and treating others with kindness and respect is important? If not, no matter the generation, these folks will typically be more prone to being bad-mannered or clueless about how to behave in the workplace.

What do you think? Have you seen an increase in incivility and bad manners in the millennial generation, or are you seeing it with all generations? Are there certain etiquette breaches you’ve noticed one generation tends to do over another? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Arden Clise is founder and president of Clise Etiquette. Her love for business etiquette began in previous jobs when she was frequently asked for etiquette, public speaking and business attire advice by executives and board members. The passion for etiquette took hold and compelled Arden to start a consulting business to help others. Read more >>


  1. maria everding on November 11, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    I was interviewed for that article, but obviously didn’t use what I had to say…They (I think it was Newsweek) were more interested in my etiquette certification!

  2. susan on April 27, 2017 at 7:24 pm

    I have noticed rude behavior with all ages. Especially an increase with rude behavior with older people. I, too am an older person, however, I adhere to the old proverb, “Treat others as you would want to be treated”. Therefore, I blame my generation, too.
    Sorry…my generation. You are rude and spoiled, and raised rude and spoiled children.

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