One of the many complaints about Gen Y in the workplace, is their lack of, well, how do you say it kindly, social skills? There are a number of things that undoubtedly contribute to this phenomenon of socially awkward young adults, but I think we all can agree that technology is most definitely the most prevalent factor. Gen Y’s ability to generate likes and online commentary, doesn’t necessarily translate into being socially graceful in person. Below is a list of the 5 most crucial, in-person social skills that Gen Y, and technophiles of all ages, are losing due to technology.
1. Eye contact
Yup, eye contact. Too much of it is creepy, but not enough is even creepier. Being able to sustain eye contact well, and know when it’s appropriate, is a vital social tool. Good luck getting past an interview if you don’t know how to look people in the eyes. It’s just one more thing that looking at screens for more than 10 hours a day has taken away from people, the ability to know what to look at when holding down a conversation.
2. Phone skills
When I say phone skills, I don’t mean how fast you can text, or Instagram a picture of that lovely cake you just baked. I mean your ability to actually speak on the phone. In initial professional phone conversations, and emails, it’s important to introduce yourself, and be as detailed, yet concise as possible. Get straight to the point, and don’t leave anybody guessing. The tendency to text everything, as opposed to call people, has left the younger generation hopelessly awkward and nervous over the phone.
The art of conversation is one skill many members of Gen Y lack. Asking questions about others, actively listening, and being able to read other peoples physical social cues, are all part of being a skilled conversationalist. The constant compulsion to look at a screen, that some members of Gen Y are plagued with, does not give those that interact with them the impression that they are invested in the present conversation. It also leaves them awkward and anxious when they’re forced to actually interact face to face with people, without a screen between them. If you’re social skills are lacking to the point that you aren’t capable of holding down a decent conversation, who’s going to want to work with you, let alone hire you?
4. Spatial Awareness
We’ve all seen her, the girl at the grocery store, standing in the middle of the aisle, forcing everyone to labor around her, while she frantically texts or chats on her phone. Well, this kind of behavior can be irritating at the office as well. The one member of the office who constantly leaves their chair out for you to run into, or leaves their stuff scattered around the break room, can get on the nerves of others. When you’re ultra-focused on your own technological world, it can make you less aware of the present physical world around you.