Being the Youngest Person at a Meeting

Posted on July 18, 2018

Right Now w/ Joey Garcia (LinkedIn / Twitter)

What I’m Reading – The Color of Law

What I’m Watching – Star Trek: TNG

What I’m cooking – Vegan Eggplant Parmesan

I recently came across an article on Lifehacker titled How to Deal With Being an Older Employee at a Modern Company that was clearly targeted to older employees struggling to fit in a younger workforce. In defense of the article, it was filed under “tech” so it was probably trying to reach people working in a generally “hipper” environment. I have the opposite problem.
I find myself being the youngest person in a meeting and attempting to preempt any judgement on my age. It gets tiresome “proving myself” at meetings. I work in a mid-size office with staff I don’t often work with directly, but I still interact in common office activities and “Bagel Fridays.” Coworkers have commented on the change of my persona between friendly office interactions and getting work done in a critical decision-making meeting. It’s not meant as an insult, but more of a verbal realization that I can talk about my love for Whitney Houston over morning coffee AND defend my projected revenue analysis; pretty sure it’s because of my vitality and general optimism around the office.  
The article lists 5 simple ways for an older employee to fit in with the youngn’s but can apply to ALL employees who want to be relevant and more engaged in their office.

  1. Don’t Try To Hide Your Age
  2. Recognize Your Value, Too
  3. Stay Engaged Socially
  4. Stay Engaged With Your Work Performance
  5. Become A Mentor

Points 1 and 2 can be dealt with once we get past the age-based generalizations. I am proud of where I am in relation to my age but everyone has their own valuable contribution that may not necessarily align with age. I’ve met too many people who have checked out long ago and struggle to remain relevant; and conversely met people who are “wise beyond their years.”
Staying engaged socially is also crucial to your sanity in an office regardless of age. This doesn’t mean you have to go and starting planning the next office summer retreat, but it would help to say yes to a non-work related invitation. We need to find the joy of working with at least one person we see day in and day out. Staying Engaged With Your Work Performance and Becoming A Mentor go hand-in-hand as well. These two points deal with ensuring that you are always improving at every stage of your career and share that knowledge with someone who could benefit from it. For all the criticisms about how Government doesn’t change, we also seem to changing how we do things.
My point is that all these posts trying to give age/generational based advice could be better served as advice for all employees regardless of age. We’re all adults and have similar issues or expectations from our office.
Supplemental reading: 

Too Long; Didn’t Read: Your generation-based advice can be applied to all employees in your office. Please stop; they’re all adults.

Joey Garcia is an Administrative Analyst with the City of Torrance and he occasionally tweets.

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