young people texting on their cell phonesThere’s a common perception about Millennials that they are the generation that would rather communicate through keystrokes than in person. That’s why the Internet, through social media networks like LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter, would seem to be the best way to network them for recruiting. One major study contradicts that thinking on a global basis.

Turns out Millennials, those folks born between 1982 and the early 2000s (the latter firmly not in the job market currently), are practically old fashion when it comes to their professional lives. Along with members of Generation X (born 1965 to 1981), the overwhelming choice is face-to-face meetings as the top choice of workplace communication.

Based on survey data from more than 40,000 people worldwide in 22 different countries, researchers at the Center for Effective Organizations at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business and London Business School, in conjunction with PricewaterhouseCoopers, outlined the communication preferences across the generations.

According to information from the USC Marshall School, more than 80 percent of Generation X and Millennials said, “[C]ommunicating through face-to-face meetings is critically important to maintaining relationships at work – the highest rating of all, and greater than phone, email, instant messaging, texting, social network sites and video chat.”

The study also offers up what is considered another surprising result: career counseling, planning and pay negotiations are also best handled in person rather than through electronic media. It said, “Even more striking are the results for communications related to performance evaluations, career planning, and compensation. When asked to rank how they would prefer to communicate with their immediate supervisor about their performance evaluation, both generations overwhelmingly choose face-to-face meetings (93 percent and 92 percent). Ninety-six percent of Millennials, and 95 percent of Generation Xers demonstrated a preference for face-to-face meetings with supervisors regarding career plans and progress; 82 percent of both Millennials and Gen Xers preferred in person conversations when discussing compensation.

It’s also a face-to-face conversation Millennials would prefer to have with women. A Pew Research Center survey finds, “Members of the Millennial generation—adults ages 18 to 32—are significantly less likely to prefer working with male coworkers than other generations. Overall, about one-in-nine (11%) of young adults say they want to work mostly with men compared with 19% of Gen Xers, 16% of Baby Boomers and 21% of the Silent generation (born 1928 to 1945).

Adding gender to the analysis reveals other notable generational differences. Millennial men are significantly more likely than older men and Millennial women to say they prefer to work mostly with women. Overall 11 percent of these young men say they favor working with women compared with 5 percent of all non-Millennial men and 6 percent of Millennial women.

Maybe the Millennials want to emulate their professional elders because, as a group, they tend to respect Baby Boomers and the like. According to a Pew Research Center study, “They respect their elders. A majority say that the older generation is superior to the younger generation when it comes to moral values and work ethic.”

Yet, the same study finds that Millennials say the defining characteristic of their generation is their technology use. They embrace technology but don’t see it as the most effective communications tool at their disposal in the workplace.

Curious to see how “Millennial” you are? The Pew Research Center has a 14-question quiz to pinpoint if you belong in that generation, even if you’re chronologically an aging Baby Boomer.

in Business Communication]