Ageism – Part III
This is the third in the series on ageism. The 1st post was Ageism – What It Is, How to Identify It and What to Do About It, the 2nd was How To Identify Ageism In The Workplace – Ageism Series Part II, and in this post, I want to identify what to do about it.
Ageism is like sexism, racism, or any other kind of discrimination that is ingrained into our society.
We cannot change other’s beliefs, but what we can do, is change our own behaviors to influence both our peers and the younger generations.
Change must start with you and me.
Ageism is Propagated by Our Own Behavior
Have you said to someone — I just had a senior moment. Using language that makes fun, or is dismissive about being old, promotes ageism.
Have you made comments about the millennial generation like they are all entitled? If you have, you are ageist. If you can say that, then what is wrong with Mark Zuckerberg saying:
Young people are just smarter
I was offended when I heard that, so why should we want to make blanket statements about those that are much younger than us.
I admit that I am ageist. I have commonly told people that I suffer from CRS disease. (CRS – Can’t Remember … Stuff). When I make statements like that, I am being ageist.
I have been working on changing my own behavior as it relates to my own generation.
As far as the younger generations, I have used non-ageist language ever since I started giving my multi-generational workplace workshop. This forced me to change my language and my own behaviors to my younger comrades.
Are you ready to change your behaviors?
Have You Stopped Learning?
The world is changing at an accelerating pace. Creative destruction is affecting industries and professions that you cannot stop growing and learning. Unfortunately, many of our generations left the responsibility for learning to our employers.
Since the great recession, employers have stopped developing their employees. It is cheaper to hire for the skills you need than train their existing employees. However, it has never been easier or cheaper to stay up to date in most skillets. Online courses have proliferated and are very affordable.
It is your responsibility to stay up to date.
I suggest the following:
- Plan on attending one industry event each year, even if you have to pay for it.
- Stay up to date with online courses.
- Listen to podcasts.
It is the 3rd suggestion that I find many of my generation going, what is a podcast? Podcasts are free, can be listened to on just about any device, and the topics are nearly infinite. Heck, there is a Chameleon Breeders podcast. There is a podcast for just about anyone to stay up to date on just about any topic.
Not Networking Across Generations
This idea came from Sharlyn Lauby post 3 Ways You May Contribute to Your Own Ageism on the Unretirement Project blog.
One of the key points that I make in my multi-generational workplace workshop, is if I want you to listen to me, I have to adapt to you. This is a 2-way street where we all have to adapt to one another.
I am a baby boomer and I like people to talk to me. My son is an old Gen Y or millennial, and I mostly communicate with him via text. My son though knows that his mom would prefer for him to call her and he usually does do that. Many of us have adapted our communications styles with our adult children, but have you done that at work?
What if you had no children? Do you have a good idea of how to communicate with a younger generation that has been connected electronically for at least the last 15 years? If not, you should get some practice.
In preparing these series of posts, I gave a presentation to Launch Pad Job Club on Ageism. We discussed how to interact with the younger generations. One gentleman came up to me afterward and told me he volunteered for the Beto O’Rourke for Senate campaign. He said that it was a great experience working with talented, young and passionate volunteers who he was old enough to be their father. His perspective and opinion of the millennial generation had changed dramatically, plus he learned to adapt his communication style to seamlessly fit in with the team of volunteers.
Do you work, socialize and hang out only with people like yourself? If you do, you are likely going to be ageist because you will form opinions based on 2nd hand information.
Eliminating Ageism Starts with Each of Us
If I want to eliminate ageism, I know it starts with my own behaviors and actions. This is no different than racism or sexism, as we work to eliminate both from our society. It all starts with ourselves.
How has ageism affected you in the workplace or society?
In what ways have you been ageist? Yes, most of us have behaved in an ageist manner.
Take a moment and comment below.Marc Miller