How To Stop Doing The Millennial Panic About Communicating At Work

Because saying what you actually want in the workplace is OK.
Panicking about that email? Thinking you used too many words – or not enough? This is for you.
Xavier Lorenzo via Getty Images
Panicking about that email? Thinking you used too many words – or not enough? This is for you.

Almost every millennial is quietly panicking about how they communicate in the workplace.

Well, that’s according to new findings from The University of Law, which found 97% of people aged between 25 and 34 fear they’ll be judged by their colleagues over how they communicate at work.

That’s a much higher number than the 84% of workers overall (across all age groups) who worry about what their peers think – but it still suggests most people in the workplace aren’t happy about how to communicate.

So what are we all worrying about?

The research – carried out with 2,000 working adults in March 2023 – suggests that just over half of respondents across all age groups felt the need to be more authoritative at work.

A further 59% said being direct with others made them feel awkward, while being asked directly what they want in the workplace is almost as bad for everyone (a worry for 58% of people).

And for some reason, millennials have a particular hang-up on this one, with 75% saying displaying such an unwavering approach about what they actually want makes them uncomfortable.

Other common worries included:

  • Using too many words to make a point,
  • Over-apologising,
  • Being too indirect.

How to communicate effectively at work

John Watkins, director of employability at ULaw, explained: “The working world presents unique challenges in many forms and often at the heart of them is communication.

“It can be easy to overthink how you communicate with others when you’re at work. Am I being too abrupt? Do I really need that extra sentence? How can I best get what I want in this situation?”

But he said it was “relatively simple to adjust your communication style without making any drastic changes or changing who you are as a person”.

Here are the main top tips for building your confidence when it comes to work comms:

1. Put yourself in the shoes of the people you communicate with – how would the recipients prefer to receive the email?

2. If you’re worried you’re using too many words to make a point, try to keep it short and sweet – this will be more effective.

3. At risk of over-apologising? Try to swap out the word “sorry” for “thank you”. The University of Law suggests using “thank you for your patience” instead of “sorry for the delay”, for instance.

4. And when it comes to being “indirect”, the University explains: “Providing you mind your manners, there is never anything wrong with this. Being indirect can easily take away from your authority and can even make your communication seem unclear and confusing.”