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How To Politely Tell Older Co-Workers To Stop Lecturing You

How To Politely Tell Older Co-Workers To Stop Lecturing You

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Dear J.T. & Dale: My 22-year-old daughter recently started working in an office where the employees (all women) are quite a bit older. They treat her like a kid and tell her she hasn’t lived long enough to know anything. However, she has been through a lot, is mature, and is not some naive little airhead. How can she politely and professionally tell her co-workers to stop mothering, lecturing, and insulting her? – Felicia

DALE: I’m sure J.T. has some nice, polite suggestions on how she can ask them to knock it off. However, if this were my daughter, here’s what I’d tell her: Let it go.

Being the youngster in the office isn’t all bad. Our culture equates youth with energy, technological aptitude and innovative thinking. The older women may be jealous, and the worst way to put an end to their remarks is with counter-lecturing, telling them to be more respectful, more sensitive to her feelings, blah, blah, blah.

J.T.: Yes, you’re right that I’m going to suggest a compassionate approach – more compassion for Felicia’s daughter, and for her older colleagues. Many seasoned professionals don’t realize they are saying things that are offensive to younger employees. Your daughter simply needs to find a concise way to point out that they are being inconsiderate.

How To Politely Tell Older Co-Workers To Stop Lecturing You

For example, the next time one of the co-workers makes a snarky comment, she can simply say: “I know you don’t mean the comments about my age to be insulting, but the fact that everyone here comments repeatedly on my youth is frustrating. I would never make comments about your age out of respect for you. Would it be OK if I asked that you did the same for me?” The key is to say it with a smile as a way to disarm the intensity.

DALE: No smile could disarm that bomb. The key is to just let it go. If she lectures them, I can just hear the women saying behind her back: “Whoa, I make a harmless little comment and she gets all snippy and defensive. Ex-cuuuse me, Miss Touchy.” The result? She’s still the young one, and now she’s driven herself farther away from that magic status of Team Player. Co-workers are going to joke about each other, and it’s better to be The Kid than to be The One Who Can’t Take a Joke.

© 2012 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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J.T. & Dale “JT & Dale Talk Jobs” is the largest nationally syndicated career advice column in the country. J.T. O’Donnell and Dale Dauten are both professional development experts.