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:
- “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.
- “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.
- “You sound just like my grandma/grandpa.”
- “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.
- “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.
- “Do you even know how to use e-mail?”
- “Watching you operate the computer is painful. Let me just do it.”