REVIEW: Chris De Santis- Why I Find You Irritating (BOOK)
Chris De Santis’ book, minus its cheeky irreverent writing style and genuine, statistically-backed good advice, is a breath of fresh air and a much needed highlight of a contemporary and *contemporarily* shifting phenomenon. It’s the classic scenario: old versus the young, new versus the *traditional*, within the confines of the increasingly amorphous landscape and vistas of the modern workplace. The book’s title expertly summarizes the entirety of its contents, simply put as Why I Find You Irritating: Navigating Generational Friction at Work, and you could say all on its own is a great articulation and plea for peace.
In an era where division has become something of a social and literal currency, the idea of a symbiotic relationship existing between those born before 1981 and those after is a much needed antidote to labels like ‘political correctness’, ‘postmodernism’, ‘wokeism gone crazy’, and even the clichéd ‘cancel culture.’ “In a better world…hypothetical stor(ies) would have played out so that the senior partner would understand the motivations of his young charges. However, in the best possible world, the senior partner would have set up expectations of their roles in advance of the meeting.
During the meeting, he would have listened thoughtfully to their contributions, asked relevant follow-up questions, and distinguished himself as a progressive leader in front of the client,” De Santis writes with respect to this. It’s nice to see he assigns accountability to both sides of the coin, rather than lambasting one more than the other. Continuing his articulation on cultural and generational translative difficulties, De Santis sums up the following. “In turn, the younger colleagues would have understood where their boss was coming from, and they would not have been so quick to ascribe malice to his actions.
They could have expressed their interest in contributing to the meeting and perhaps been given a more visible role,” he states. “Remember, too, it is not always the case that older workers will manage and lead younger ones. The reverse of this ideal scenario is often the case. Getting the best out of people, regardless of their generation, requires understanding who they are, their impact on each other, and what they need to do their jobs well.”
From that is birthed a series of arguments, examples, and articulations that are as culturally relevant as they are surprisingly engaging. Even for readers not specializing with the topicality of the book, De Santis’ observations and matter-of-fact, casual writing style draws you in. He’s one of those great literary communicators who can stay objective but never dry, viscerally impactful but never to the detriment of the facts at hand. “When I give talks on how millennials are changing the workplace, invariably a boomer will raise a hand…and say something along the lines of: ‘Won’t they grow out of it?’…(telling) me…within their question is also a statement…’They’re just young, right?’ The answer is no. No, this is not about millennials just being young. They are different, they always have been, and they always will be. The forces that shaped them, both economic and cultural, were different than the forces that shaped the questioner.”