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Get respect while paying your dues

Mr Lamont Bunch.

YOU are “twentysomething”, trained, qualified and starting a career.

But instead of respecting you as a skilled co-worker, older colleagues treat you like a grass-green kid.

How can young adults become established on the job and be judged by competence, not age?

The first thing to remember is that age discrimination is nothing new, says Mr Lamont Bunch, 29, a banking executive and member of Gordon Memorial Church in Nashville, Tennessee.

The people who are treating you like a “new kid” had probably faced similar attitudes when they were first starting out, he said.

Mr Bunch, whose age has not slowed his corporate climb (he is Assistant Vice-President and Business Relationships Manager at First American Bank), admitted that he had no quick fix. Still, he said, demonstrating good work habits go a long way in helping one earn respect.

He suggested:
1. Be a team player. Show that you are willing to take on assignments beyond your job description.
2. Be sociable. Invite colleagues to lunch or bring snacks to share, if permitted, at your workplace.
3. Dress appropriately. Make sure that your hairstyle, clothing and jewellery reflect your company’s image.
4. Arrive on time or early to work, and work late when necessary.
5. Introduce new ideas thoughtfully. Presentation is everything.
6. Avoid gossips, grumblers and slackers. Seek out colleagues who are enthusiastic, positive and diligent workers.
7. Listen and learn before suggesting new ideas and changes. Assume that older colleagues may have knowledge that can help you.
8. Nurture your faith. Turn to God for guidance and unconditional love.

— Interpreter.