Theme: Understanding Millennials
Interviewer: Clement Lee
Mende： This is a very interesting topic for me, because communicating with younger generations is a little headache to me. I have been teaching Lighting Design for 10 years in universities, where I also come across so many different thinking styles and working approaches.
Clement： The reason I ask this question is to learn how your generation feels about the younger people. I would like to share our views so that we could realign ourselves to create more awareness and understanding between different age groups.
Mende： Your generation is the most interesting generation so far. I feel that Millennials prefer to be left alone and secretive. My generation, on the other hand, loves to share and communicate verbally even if we don’t understand each other.
Clement： Millennials do prefer quiet time sometimes as we believe certain information can be sourced online, but we value knowing how other people think about topics. Luckily for me, I was born in the beginning of the 90s before technology bloomed to enhance life and most people were still getting used to this new luxury.
Mende： I feel sometimes that Millennials tend to communicate better via digital devices rather than verbal unlike us. Do you think sometimes an old guy like me gets noisy?
Clement： No! I do find your generation very interesting. Having caught in between post-tech and pre-tech, I am always wondering what it is like to be to older generations. As most trending activities nowadays do throwback to the 60s till 90s, most millennials I know love to bask in those culture. How do you feel about us, Millennials?
Mende： I always feel that the younger generation doesn’t appreciate the beauty of verbal communication and tends to be weak at speech.
I feel men tend to be more reserved; no eye contact between speaker and listeners, eyes glued elsewhere like their smartphone; prefers to be quiet and afraid to convey intended message; prefers to digitally communicate rather than speaking in person.
I find through today’s conversation though, that my perception changed and realized some millennials do speak a lot and do put effort to have a hearty conversation.
Clement： Perhaps being in a multi-racial society or even going through military service, Singaporeans are more verbal to convey messages to prevent miscommunication and share experiences to enrich each other to grow today. Do you believe extra activities outside work are important, hobbies as such provide learning opportunities to bolster a designer’s working methods and thinking? Millennials believe so because we love to get stimulated by new experiences to further enhance our lives and perceptions which induce reflective interventions.
Mende： Yes! Time spent meaningfully helps us carve deeper understanding of the world we live in. I do believe all activities can open up new perspectives. I have started skiing in my 50s, scuba diving when I am in my 60s, next year when I hit my 70s I’d like to start something else to experience what this world has to offer. So I will advise people to go out and try, not being afraid to learn something new and be more curious to their physical surroundings. Maybe parasailing? So I can be a friend of the sky, similar to the sea.
I always think about how to communicate with your generation and compose my words. I even I sugarcoat complains as I believe Millennials are afraid to handle the intended critic. How should I approach the generation?
Clement： I believe millennials are susceptible to change and value sincerity and honesty rather than modified statements/comments. Millennials are more afraid of possible misunderstandings rather than the harsh tone put forth.
Mende： We grew up learning from strict parents and sometimes I do feel that my words tend to be structured in a harsh tone. We value direct communication that is down to earth compared to other approaches that we take these days.
Clement: Yes! Maybe we are still brought up by our parents who are in their 50s and 60s, that’s why we appreciate more traditional approach better compared to the millennial’s parental approach.
Clement： I have a last question for you – as an established designer, would you recommend younger staff to follow the same work style you’ve been through to get where you are?
Mende： Being hardworking and trying many approaches might not be enough, but trying your best to gain valuable experiences might be the key to open up more opportunities. We grew up with the ideology of mastering our craft, but are not very good at expanding ourselves to other disciplines. I don’t believe new generations should follow that. Training your brain to adopt to new environment best at work is not something they are good at because they are caught up in so many opportunities.
Clement： Thank you for your genuine opinions shared today – those ideas will help millennials better understand our seniors.