Chris De Santis’ new book is arguably an appeal to reason. In an increasingly divided time, it’s not just politics dividing classes, walks of life, labelled groups, and individuals themselves. It’s also cultural shifts owing a debt to technological innovation and increasing amorphous methodology. The title not only perfectly encapsulates this topicality, but also displays De Santis’ signature, wry sense of humor. With Why I Find You Irritating: Navigating General Friction at Work, De Santis is quick to highlight these potential communicative pitfalls when it comes to opposing and varied generational members working alongside one another.


The obvious example, God forbid, would be the classic case of the baby boomer and the Generation Z working to achieve some common goal. But the book is less a cautionary nonfiction study on how said pitfalls materialize, as much as it is an exposé on what one generation can learn from the other. In the end, as De Santis brilliantly demonstrates, there is so much to gain – even sometimes from the friction and life juxtapositions of two very different, generationally-influenced people. As far as he is concerned, these differences are things to celebrate and learn from – rather than see as impediments to achieving the shared goal and overall outcome of the hypothetical enterprise.

“That generations are a construct does not mean that they are not real. Constructs can be very real, even ones that try to map squishy concepts,” he writes in aforementioned vein. “…For now, suffice it to say that generational theory is real and useful, even necessary. We do ourselves no favors by doing away with generational theory simply because there are thorny issues to address, inconsistencies to smooth out, and caveats to issue and consider. People are different across time. Gen Zers are different from millennials. Millennials are different from Gen Xers. Gen Xers are different from boomers. Building models that help us understand the dynamics resulting from the differences aids our understanding of the world. We should not toss out generational theory. We simply need better, more accurate models of generational turnover.”

From these kind of soliloquies and ruminations, key concepts are introduced in a naturalistic, organic fashion. Nothing ever feels shoehorned in, something even some of the best of the best in the nonfiction subcategories of leadership and business advice can suffer from. Take, for example, De Santis’ introduction of the concept Generational wave theory: “(Generational wave theory) allows us to understand these great intergenerational shifts, which drive generational turnover, while also accounting for the ongoing, unceasing intra-generational drift and variation that happens all of the time. Viewed this way, we can better understand generational cohorts as they rise and fall.

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We can make sense of the effect that these cultural catalysts, big and small, have on people as they send shockwaves rippling out through history.” By making these kinds of intangibilities feel concise and intellectually relevant, De Santis makes the read come full circle as a whole. This only makes the presentation of his philosophy that much more succinct and sound, something to be commended.

Garth Thomas