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How To Gain Respect When You’re The Youngest In The Office

Being a twenty-something just starting out in your career likely means that you are the youngest in your office. That can obviously be a bit of a challenge. How can you get anyone’s respect, or anyone to listen to you, when they are old enough to be your mother or father? Unfortunately, sometimes, those who are older than us, even in a professional setting, can look down on us as though we are their child and not their colleague.

How can we break out from this? Well, it is possible. And, it is important. How can you grow in your career if everyone is looking at you like a child? You can’t. But here are some ways in which you can gain respect, even when you are the youngest in your office.

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How To Gain Respect When You’re The Youngest In The Office

1) Give respect

You need to treat others the way you would like to be treated, right? Well, that’s the same with respect. In order to receive respect, you need to give respect.

If you respect your older colleagues, you have a much better chance in being respected back. Your colleagues will appreciate the fact that you are showing them respect, and will be much more likely to treat you better and want to help you.

It’s also important to never “talk back” in a disrespectful or sarcastic manner. It is unprofessional and immature. If you disagree with something, voice your opinion in a calm and polite manner.

2) Ask questions

You should not be afraid to ask questions, ever. How else are you supposed to learn?! If this is one of your first jobs out of college, your colleagues will know that you are here to work.. and to learn.

If you are confused about something, ask your colleague, in a proper and nice manner. Showing that you want to learn more, and want to be able to contribute even more to the company you are working for, should, in turn, result in you being taken even more seriously and with respect.

3) Take interest in your colleagues 

Now I’m not saying you need to sit down and have a heart-to-heart with every single colleague in your office (or any colleague, for that matter). But, show a honest interest in what they are doing or what they are working on.

Ask questions. And, if you have extra time on your hands, ask if you can help in any way. Especially, if your colleague is in a different department than you ask, ask him or her about that. Show that you want to know about the work being done in departments different than yours.

How To Gain Respect When You're The Youngest In The Office

4) Do not act like a know it all

Entitlement will get you nowhere. This is an important life lesson in general, but it especially rings true when you are the youngest in the office.

Think about it – would you like someone who is younger than you to come to you acting like they know it all? I doubt that you would. Your colleagues, especially those who have been working there for years, will not like it either.

We all are always learning, and in all honesty, no one should act like a know it all, especially in a professional setting.

5) Be on time

Yes, I know, there are tons of memes out there about strolling into work late with your iced coffee. Do not be this person!

It is not the first impression that you want to give off, and it is not a reputation that you want to have. Always be at least five minutes early, ready to tackle all of the things you need to get done that day.

Before leaving for the day, check-in with your boss to ensure that there is nothing else you need to finish before the day’s end.

6) Be organized 

Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. Well, if your desk is an absolute mess (or if your boss asks you for a specific document and you cannot find it), you will likely be judged, despite this saying we have been taught since we were children.

Keep an organized desk/cubicle/shared space/office. It may be your space, but everyone likely has to see it. And who wants to see piles of papers all over the place?

Youngest In The Office

7) Participate in meetings 

Do not be afraid to share your thoughts, concerns, or ideas in staff meetings or with your boss directly. You were hired for a reason, right? And that reason is to contribute to the better-hood of the company. Participate whenever you can, and do not be afraid to do so. Do not keep your mouth shut just because you are scared to speak because you are the youngest. That will get you nowhere!

Gaining respect can be a struggle in every aspect of life. But when you are the youngest in a situation, especially in a professional situation, it can be hard to be taken seriously. Act professional, be respectful always, and remember to be yourself and you should be okay!

About the Author

Michelle Ioannou

Michelle graduated from Fordham University with a Bachelors of Arts '13 and a Master of Arts '14. She's currently working in corporate America with a side of freelance writing. She wants you to learn from her experiences and mistakes so your 20s can be your best decade. When she's not working, she's likely planning her escape to a tropical island.