7 Things You Should Absolutely NOT Say To An Older Co-Worker

First of all, the mere fact that I am referring to a co-worker as “older” makes me slightly fear for my life. Whenever I am even using the word “older” I say it in a softer tone than I do the rest of my sentence in hopes those I am talking to don’t get offended. Being not one of, but THE youngest employee in our department, I am often referred to as, “the child.” While I may be alone in my department, I am not alone in the workforce, being a millennial working alongside the baby boomers. With the major generational gap among workers, this leaves greater opportunity for miscommunication or differing perspectives. Let me be the first to admit, I have provided many opportunities where a statement has left my mouth, directed at an “older” co-worker and I suddenly either regretted it or wanted to run far, far away.

Over the years, I have learned many valuable lessons from this generation including things you should absolutely NOT say to an older co-worker:

  1. “I didn’t realize you were THAT old.” Want your co-worker to instantly hate you? Just say this. No, actually don’t. Always remember that age is a very touchy topic.
  1. “Why do you have so many tabs open on your computer?” The last thing an older co-worker wants to deal with is you standing behind them and offering your two sense about what they are doing on their computer. This may come as a shock to you, but this generation has been using some form of computer technology for over 20 years.

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  1. You sound just like my grandma/grandpa.”

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  1. “So, when are you retiring?” It takes a while to save up a sufficient amount of funds to be able to retire. Don’t put this pressure on your colleague.

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  1. “Is that how they did things when you were younger?” Your older co-workers did not live in the Stone Age. Make use of their experiences and learn from them.
  1. “Do you even know how to use e-mail?” 

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  1. “Watching you operate the computer is painful. Let me just do it.”
Liz Hernandez

Liz obtained a Bachelors of Arts in English with a Business and Technical Writing concentration and a minor in journalism and communications from the University of Delaware in 2011. For the past 3 years she has been fortunate enough to be working full-time at a healthcare organization in Nursing Administration. She is currently attending Drexel University as a part-time student to obtain a Masters of Science in Project Management. When she is not working you can find her at the beach, the pool, or anywhere that the sun is shining, wearing a hat (slightly obsessed with hats). She despises the winter and snow and lets everyone know about it. She is without children, no boyfriend/husband (despite the fact all of her colleagues suggest creating multiple dating profiles for her), and living close to the town she grew up in. But, here’s the thing; she is perfectly okay with it! Liz is building the career that she wants for the long haul and hopes to inspire other twenty somethings along the way. Keep up with her on Instagram and Twitter @ejhernan.

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