How about some criticism for millennials

Delivered well with the right motives and intentions and taken well, criticism will help build, foster and nurture good stuff to great things. Delivered to demolish, shoot down and get the rising stars out of the way, so that the old can keep shinning till asked to move, criticism achieves nothing! This is applicable all across the generational spectrum. Not just the millennials. No discrimination here, please – just that, ‘old’ is a dictionary term. How one aligns ones’ self to is, really up to the ‘one’. Then, as my topic is on the millennials and their reaction to criticism stemming from a Great FB Debate on supposedly pseudo-credentials and being pointed thereto, lets’ talk about the millennials. 

How do millennials react to criticism? 

Millennials have access to a vast amount of information at the speed of the light, often at their fingertips as they cruise the cyber space – while eating, trying to sleep, on the go, crossing the road and while at their work/study desks. The information overload and what is streamed as knowledge – whether it is real knowledge or not, is absorbed like sponges wiping out spilled milk. Well, to be fair by the millennials, they do know a lot. That is, the lot that their smart gadgetary and a robust education system impart to them. 

So it’s no wonder that they do feel like ‘Little Wonders’, when it comes to acquired knowledge. When it comes to taking criticism and applying the more mature experiential skill that may accompany it, are they as eager as they were to acquire knowledge? My experience is – yes and no. 

We talked with a few experienced human resource in the corporate world. 

Sathy Fernando, well known for her ability to be discreet and wise in the corporate world has this to say. “I think it depends on the person. If a person is willing to learn, they may take it up positively”. Her colleague, Anoli Karunaratne, a young senior executive in a bank who excels in number crunching, had a similar view. “Taking criticism is not a generational thing – whether millennial or otherwise. It actually depends on the person to whom it is given”. 

Sarath is a tourism expert from a mature generation. In fact, he will turn eighty in 2017. He views the millennials as those with great potential to build the nation, given the right opportunity and education. “If they are well trained and educated not just in the school curriculum or the university but in all different aspects of life, I’m positive they will take up criticism well”, he says. “For instance, take the hotel industry. It’s moving forward well and if the older generation wasn’t there to train up the young, do you think we would have survived through the lean years? That means, the millennials took up criticism well, when they were being trained on the job”. Ever the optimist for a better tomorrow! 

Sajeewani Jayawardene is a young corporate lawyer. She has a lot to do with young and aspiring corporate executives that come to her for legal advice. Her very short opinion was “ I don’t think today’s generation appreciate or take criticism well”. Well millennials? 

Where is our connection between the flashing of pseudo-credentials and attitude to criticism absorption by the millennnials? Is it a foregone conclusion that the high achieving millennials with their many talents and gifting in several different directions aren’t prepared to face up to it when challenged? 

Let's break it down. 

To claim a credential, one needs to achieve the credential through a process. Again, attaching a credential to a name will need to be allowed by the party that confers the credential on the claimant. Say for instance, in the writing arena, I might call myself a published writer – simply because I’ve been writing for the past ten or more years. While I’d love to call myself a prolific writer, I would like that to come from a source that reads my writing. Or may be when a book is published and an award is won, well, I may have earned that credential. Not yet though. In the meantime, local names like Ashok Ferrer, the late Nihal de Silva, Punyakanthi Wijenaike and that gregariously hilarious Tenduf-La are well read and learned. 

Isn’t it worth the while, the reputation  and the seriousness of it all, then, to await an appropriate accolade or a professional achievement to align one’ self to a credential? The larger audience might think so. When the claim is defused, isn’t it the wise thing to do, in evaluating whether such a claim was well positioned – for one’s own good? Think about it millennials. It’ll do you good. 

Givanthi Fernando – a graduate from the University of Colombo might offer a clue. She says, “It actually is a personal thing. Some are positive to criticism and some are not. But there is another segment that is openly adverse to criticism when it is given – but takes time to mull on it and sink it in and take the good out of it. So, that is another face of the millennials”, she says. Givanthi teaches English and Elocution to a cross section of the millennials. She might know a thing or two about millennials and how they react to criticism. 

Sajeewani Jayawardena – Attorney at Law 

You see millennials – criticism is not a bad thing. It’s how you take it. So, if you’ve expressed a pseudo credential and are being ‘critiqued’ for it, evaluate, let go – if it in fact, is a pseudo credential. Face up to the challenge, rise above it and in time, you will come up to speed to grab hold of it. Then, no one will have a word to say to you, in the other direction.


Chandi Perera

Chandi switched careers from an airline to banking and enjoyed both. Writing is the passion that outlasted both those careers. Her themes for life are - believing, sharing, caring and learning. She can be contacted at


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