5 ways to gain respect at work

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You know what it’s like, you’ve focused on what you want, studied hard, pulled all-nighters getting coursework done and now is your time.

You’ve bagged the job you want, at the company of your dreams and it’s all going to have been worthwhile.

But when you get there you seem to be constantly asked “So, how old are you?” or “Oh my goodness, what year were you born in?” followed by a horrified reaction, a declaration that you make everyone feel old and more questions on whether you’ve ever seen the original Star Wars/Grease/insert other film.

Youth can be an asset, but it can also feel like you’re not being taken very seriously. Here are 5 tips to help you get the respect you want in the workplace:

1. When in Rome

Listen, we aren’t saying being a clone of the fortysomething who employed you BUT if you want to be treated equally, you need to start noticing what the more established people in your company are doing. Don’t be someone else, still be you – just “work” you. And it means more of a differentiation for when you’re “party” you.

2. Preparation preparation preparation

You know your stuff and it’s likely you’ve spent years studying. But when you’re in a meeting with a couple of senior colleagues rattling off facts and figures like  horse racing commentators it can be nerve wracking. So, before meetings make notes, just bullet points of the things you think you’ll be asked about so that you can eliminate the panic and answer with confidence.

3. Find a Mentor

A lot of companies will have an employee mentorship programme, if they have get on to it. It’s not all about the knowledge either, it’s about showing your commitment and making contacts, inside the office and with clients.

If your company doesn’t have a programme, see if you can arrange something informally. And don’t forget to give back – a fresh pair of eyes and opinion can be as useful as experience so be generous with your time and feedback.

4. Keep learning

You may be sick of study, or perhaps you’re still taking your exams on the job but there’s still space to pick up skills in the office. Check out your in-house training, and bear in mind it doesn’t have to be a hard skill. Personal development courses will give you a far deeper understanding of what makes you tick and how you can play to your strengths, crucial for career development.

5. Network, but not too hard!

Take opportunities to get involved in networking events. You’ll likely have the chance to join peer related events, departmental or company wide.

While it’s great to do all of them, don’t be out every night meaning that you can’t get up in the morning. And, don’t get a name as a big drinker/the last one standing/etc. It may seem like fun at the time but it takes a long time to lose that kind of name and it won’t go in your favour come promotion time.

So, next time you get the dreaded question, paste on your smile and repeat in your head “I will NOT torture folk with this when I am in that position”.

Most of all, enjoy these years. There is so much to learn and see and experience and do! Take advantage of all the opportunities you can, throw yourself out of your comfort zone every once in a while…go on, they say “Youth is Wasted on The Young”, prove them wrong!

Jo Gifford mentors solopreneurs to tell their business story online and to work in smarter, creative ways on www.dexterousdiva.co.uk.



aatadmin is AAT Comment’s news writer.

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