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What is With These Crazy Kids?

In the Forbes article, “20 Things 20-Somethings Don’t Get”, author Jason Nazar lays out twenty bits of professional advice—tips that often go unheeded or at least that come as a surprise to many Millennials (those born between 1980 and 2000)—now the twenty-somethings among us. Among the terrific and pointed suggestions Nazar offers are:

  • You’re Talented, But Talent is Overrated
  • Pick Up the Phone, Don’t Hide Behind Your Computer
  • Don’t Wait to Be Told What to Do
  • You Should Be Getting Your Butt Kicked
  • People Matter More Than Perks
  • Speak Up, Not Out

A lot of the author’s twenty points are rooted in emotional intelligence—self-awareness, self-motivation and control, interpersonal engagement, communication and conflict management. The article seems to suggest what so many before it have suggested—that this Millennial generation is woefully ill-equipped for the demands of the workplace due to poorly developed emotional intelligence (EQ).

“What is wrong with these crazy kids?” “Why don’t Millennials—as a generation—know how to work and behave?” These are common questions, and the answer—or at least an important part of the answer– may surprise you.

Millennials are as emotionally intelligent as they should be.

What many people don’t know about EQ is that it is natural for it to develop (producing higher EQ-i scores) over time. It is natural for an 18-year-old to have lower EQ than a 30-year-old, and for that 30-year-old to show less emotional intelligence than someone in her 50s. EQ—in general—develops (or increases) with age.

So we can actually document that Millennials do have less emotional intelligence (as evidenced through lower EQ-i scores) but not because they are Millennials—because they are young. Remember that this Millennial generation will—in a few decades—start hitting 60 years old, and they will have EQ scores (and the skills to match) that set the new standard. Baby Boomers were once college-aged kids participating in protests, dropping out, acting up and provoking their Traditionalist parents to ask, “What is wrong with these lazy, irresponsible kids?”

Millennials  would be wise to learn the keys to navigating and succeeding within today’s world of work. Increased EQ is—and has always been—the ticket to this success. However, while parents, business owners, managers and community leaders lament and complain about Millennial shortcomings, it would also be wise for us to remember all things will and do develop in their time. All generations have lacked emotional intelligence when viewed from the privileged perch of someone with more development and practice.

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