Last weekend, I sat by the pool perusing the September issue of Departures magazine and was pleasantly surprised to read the editor’s note declaring that the current state of affairs can basically be summed up in three little words, “I dare you.”  It seems everywhere we turn – from politics to business to culture – buttons are being pushed and boundaries are being broken. Society is practically begging us to go against the grain and rewarding those who do so with the biggest bang. If you’ve been following the Trump headlines, you know exactly what I mean. 

I have been touting my tagline “Dare to be polite” for years and the mantra has been gaining traction. I coined the term, not as an invitation to shock or seek attention but rather to provoke, particularly the younger set, to act with grace, thoughtfulness, and good intention.  

With Millennials growing up in one of the most challenging economic environments to date, now more than ever, it’s time to incorporate these skills. A quick Google search reveals how they are missing out on a multitude of areas from everyday courtesies to meaningful connections. If the nation’s largest living generation cares to significantly increase their chances of success, they must give more prominence to their manners.  Come on, I dare you! 

1. Common Courtesies. Named the “Me Me Me Generation” by Time Magazine, Millennials are great at the larger notion of being a good citizen, but when it comes to smaller courtesies, they are sorely lacking. What they fail to realize is that it’s the little things that matter.  Simple acts of kindness such as smiling, opening doors, offering a seat, politely asking for something, and using the Magic Words are a gracious way to endear themselves to others.  

2. Committed Relationships. Millennials are terrific at collaborating and cooperating on a public scale, especially with brands, but they are the poster children for keeping things casual when it comes to committed relationships. They wrongly assume a meaningful exchange can be conducted on a tiny smartphone. On the contrary, taking the time to pick up the phone rather than texting to arrange a date, greeting a companion at the door, and pulling out a chair at dinner is not only a sign of respect, it sends a clear message you are present and interested.  

3. Dining Skills. When Millennials dine out, they tend to seek the exotic and experiential. However, to save money at home, they have shunned the napkin in favor of a more economic paper towel. Profiled as the “cheapest generation” by the Atlantic, this swap has resulted in an overall deficit of napkin etiquette. A napkin has a multitude of practical uses.  When laid on our laps it protects our clothing from getting soiled. It makes a terrific blast shield to capture a cough or sneeze. And, of course, it keeps our mouths and hands clean. Millennials may not be aware that a napkin also gives us hints as to what is happening at the table. When placed on the seat of the chair, we know someone is excusing themselves during the meal and when laid on the left side of the place setting, we receive a silent signal that the meal has ended.  

4. Professional Dress.  Millennials are famous for their relaxed attitude when it comes to suiting up.  What they fail to realize is that proper attire may be the key to clinching that coveted side hustle. Whether seeking an extra gig as a yoga teacher, life coach or freelance writer, there will be an initial interview that will set the tone going forward. Dressing appropriately along with standing, sitting and walking with good posture not only makes clothing fit better, but it provides an instant air of confidence and extra edge to those entering our highly competitive job market. 

5. Face-to-Face Conversation: Millennials are super at socializing, mostly on social media, but it’s no secret they are suffering a loss when it comes to interpersonal exchanges. Because the majority of their communication is electronic, they neglect to notice certain non-verbal cues from eye contact and facial expressions to body language and personal space.  And this is only half of the equation.  Their verbal communication could use a bit of polish too. Practicing how to actively listen or learning when to self-censor is a good thing. Not everyone is the star of their own reality show and these skills are essential to making them more likable, maybe even charming.  

Know a Millennial who could use a little smoothing around the edges?  I’ll be shooting a manners segment with Awkwafina, star of #TAWK with Awkwafina, this Friday. Stay tuned…