You’re the only person at your workplace who was alive when The Beatles were still putting out new music. The Sept. 11 attacks feel like yesterday to you. You even have a landline.
What’s more, the manager you report to is half your age.
You’d be forgiven if at work you sometimes feel like a dinosaur. Maybe your colleagues even treat you like one from time to time.
Chin up. You can still remain happily employed right up until the day you decide differently. Here’s how:
Stay up to date. Without fail, learn to use the software and apps the people you work with use. When new systems are adopted (as seems to happen every few months), don’t sigh and complain that you “just got used to the old one.” Figure it out. Seek outside coaching if necessary.
Don’t reminisce about the way “things used to be done.” No one cares. In cases where the way things used to be done is clearly superior, consider introducing these practices as “new.” Sneaky, but it often works.
Be slow to take offense. You may be taken aback when younger colleagues assume that you aren’t familiar with the latest technology or — worse — that you need help lifting a box. Showing your surprise, however, will only make it into a bigger deal than it needs to be. Settle for a raised eyebrow, at most. And then carry on.
Put extra effort into fitting in. The gang has become obsessed with fantasy football but football, fantasy or not, isn’t your thing. Please reconsider! These “team-building” activities encourage collaboration, reduce conflict and strengthen relationships. In other words, it’s not about the football. You might even have fun.
Finally, never condescend. If you don’t want your youthful co-workers to treat you like their mom or dad, then don’t treat them like your kids. A lot of age discrimination is rooted in insecurity — i.e., young people suspect there are still areas where you know more than they do and they find this intimidating. Don’t rub their noses in it. Be low-key about your wisdom and generous with your support, all the while treating everyone as an equal.
You may still occasionally feel like a gas-guzzling sedan in a rideshare world. But just remember: The ’66 Mustang remains cool. You can too.