How To Be Taken Seriously At Work When Ageism Is A Problem
There are two opposing ends of the spectrum to the issue of years of experience. If you have a high number of years of experience, you may be stereotyped as having “old experience” that doesn’t match new technologies and best practices.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you have a lesser number of years of experience, you may not be taken seriously because you don’t have enough knowledge under your belt – even if the experience you have could be invaluable to the company you are with.
And there isn’t always a middle ground or a perfect age to be to be taken seriously. Often, it feels like employees move from “too little experience” to “too many years” overnight, and never find that happy medium between the two.
So, if it’s a constant battle to be taken seriously at work at all ages, it’s important to understand ways you can up your chances of having your ideas listened to rather than brushed aside. Here are some ideas:
Don’t Back Down
It can be a challenge to stand your ground and argue, especially when higher-ups disagree with you. Rather than trying to argue your case face-to-face, try creating a presentation that states your case, and share links to external sources and articles that back up what you are saying. Even if you don’t win the argument this time, it will give you practice for all the times you need to stand your ground throughout your career.
Constantly Ask For Feedback
It’s important to consistently ask for feedback from managers and co-workers. Be sure to ask for feedback quarterly, if not more often. This feedback will show how people find the way you communicate, how knowledgeable they find you, and some points that you can work on. Any negative feedback is great because it gives you direction on what to improve on to be taken more seriously – encourage those offering feedback to be completely honest.
Show That You Are Constantly Learning
Employees that are known to be constantly learning, and who are a wealth of knowledge, can be taken more seriously by managers and peers when big decisions need to happen. Constantly be on the lookout for new trends to educate yourself on, and share out with your team and boss whenever it aligns to projects you are working on.
Don’t Act Your Age
The funny thing is that if you are younger and act older you will be taken more seriously, and vice versa if you are older and act younger the same thing goes. Try to look around the office to see who is being listened to the most, and emulate their style, presence and age.
Offer To Help
If you feel like your ideas aren’t being taken seriously in the office, offer to help on additional projects. This will do two things – it will give you insight into what others are working on and perhaps why they don’t want your ideas more often, and it will also give you ideas on how to better share your thoughts moving forward. Gaining insight into how others work on projects will be extremely helpful as you embark on trying to gain more respect at work.
Leave Emotion At The Door
It can be really hard to keep emotions at bay when you feel like you aren’t being taken seriously – especially because of ageism and reverse ageism. However, as soon as you display emotion you will probably lose the argument. Just like people at work gut-react by stereotyping, they also immediately assume that they have gone up even further above you on the totem poll right when you show emotion rather than act with facts first.
It can be really hard to deal with not being taken seriously at work. If you try ways to be taken more seriously without any luck, keep in mind that it might be time for a new company, a new manager, and a new set of co-workers.
Some companies have toxic environments, and it’s going to take extra effort to change things within the company walls. On the other hand, other companies have extremely collaborative environments, and will treat you with massive amounts of respect.
Do your best to alter how you are treated within your current company, but keep in mind that walking away for your own career and well-being isn’t giving up – instead, it shows your strength.