How To Not Act Old…Even if You Were Born When Dinosaurs Walked the Earth

For the first time in history, there are four generations out there in the workplace. Obviously, people of different ages are coming from different experiences and that can sometimes create difficulties in communication and work styles. Every generation brings something of great worth to the workplace and it can be very beneficial if everyone respects the differences.

For instance, Millennials should try not to see Baby Boomers as fossils who have outlived their worth in the workforce. On the other hand, older people need to appreciate the innovativeness and fresh ideas of the youthful. I know this is important, because I am one of the (ahem) more mature workers. I will not reveal my age, but in dog years, I’m dead. Just kidding. Maybe.

I love the younger generation and in my Generational Workshops (“Dude…What’s Woodstock?”) I encourage the older workers to open their minds to the possibilities and to not be afraid of new ideas and technology. I tell them not to fall into the “We’ve always done it this way….” or “In my day, we…..” mentality. The times, they are a’changin’ and if we don’t change with them, we will be left in the dust. And so I offer some tips for the more mature worker:

Don’t be a technology dinosaur (Technosaurus): If you are wondering if you have fallen into this category, here are some guidelines to help you know for sure: You might be a Technosaurus if you still use cassette tapes and a matching player. You are definitely a Technosaurus if you have an eight track player. However, this does not apply to owning vinyl albums and a turntable on which to play them. This just makes you retro and that is cool. Sometimes it takes a while to catch on. When I first started presenting webinars, I had a hard time aligning my head with the camera so that participants weren’t watching a pair of talking eyebrows.

Learn the terms: If you think that Twitter is something that only birds do and that Skyping is the act of birds winging across the sky while they are twittering, you may need to brush up on some of the modern terminology and techniques. Understand that lol does not mean Lots of Love, and now there is more than one meaning to the word “cloud.” Streaming doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with water and nobody under the age of 35 knows what a floppy disc is. If you say you have some, people will think you have a problem with your back. If you don’t know these things, well OMG you ARE a Technosaurus!

Don’t be critical of younger people utilizing texting rather than face-to-face communication. This is the way it’s done now. I know that it’s difficult when your Smart phone outsmarts you. I have fought with auto-correct many times and lost. It caused me to send a message reading, “I can hardly contain my excrement!” That has a much different meaning than excitement, which is what I meant to say.

Don’t be critical of the way the younger generation dresses or speaks: Remember bell bottoms, mini-skirts, go-go boots and trying to look “boss,” “bitchin’” and “groovy.” And while we’re on that topic….

Do not try to be younger than you really are: Age is an attitude and the wisdom you have acquired is valuable! Part of not acting old is not trying to act too young. Dress appropriately…I have a tee-shirt which reads “So Many Men And So Little Time!” As I get older, that statement takes on a different meaning! I also have one which reads “I’m Still Hot…It Just Comes in Flashes Now.” I don’t wear that one because why advertise? Be comfortable in your own skin….mine is more relaxed-fit now, so I’m pretty comfortable.

Do not wear sunglasses over your bifocals. Choose one or the other.

While ordering in a restaurant, understand that the waiter or waitress does not need to know why you’re not ordering bacon and buttered toast. Your cholesterol numbers are your own business and of no concern to your server. And please remember that no one at your table, coworkers or even your best friend needs to hear what onions do to your digestive tract.

Of course, I am having fun with this topic but the point is valid. There are many benefits to having multi-generational workforces. There is a wealth of experience and knowledge that can create magical things, if everyone is non-judgmental and appreciative of each other. Life is a continuum and so is our learning!

Linda Henley-Smith is a motivational speaker, coach and “But”-Kickin’ Diva! Learn more about “Dude, What’s Woodstock? (Managing the Generational Mix)” and other programs at www.lindahenley-smith.com.

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