Workplaces are getting more diverse every single day. It’s not just about the male vs. female or local vs. foreigner ratio anymore. It’s now commonplace to see people with huge age gaps in between trying to work together in harmony under the same office roof. And, unfortunately, things do not always go smoothly.
Ageism, or age bias, in the workplace can arise in many forms, but most of the time, it happens verbally. I don’t think people use such verbal “attacks” intentionally. I believe phrases such as “You look great for your age” or “You still have time” come from a place of kindness. Unfortunately though, in a workplace, such phrases can be understood as “offensive” depending on the mood of the person on the receiving end.
|“I cannot believe you’re X years old!”|
|“Age X is the new Y.“|
|“No one uses that phrase these days.“|
|“I could never do what you’re doing at your age!“|
|“You are young at heart.“|
Thankfully we as humans are aging better and are able to remain active in workplaces for long years. It is crucial to maintain a harmonious atmosphere between the younger and older employees. And remember, age bias can happen in both directions. Luckily, you can resort to a few methods to prevent ageism:
1.You can use “reframing” before we express your opinions
For example, one common misconception is while older people are slow to learn new technology or software, younger people are tech experts 🙂 If we try reframing such misconceptions, it is clear to see that everyone knows pretty much something about technology, and everyone needs to receive training to sharpen their skills.
2.You can use empathy instead of sympathy
Sympathy is necessary, but feeling pity for a younger or older colleague will not help. Trying to be in other’s shoes by using empathy will lead to more innovative solutions.
3.You can practice kindness and mindfulness
As the famous saying goes, “Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.” And be mindful 🙂
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