So colleagues or managers say you’re too old and not moving with the times? It’s probably not true. But if there’s a grain of truth to it, Cindy Tonkin offers seven strategies you can use to shut them up and get ahead.
1: Work out what it is you’re doing
Sometimes ‘old’ is a code for something else, like being grumpy, negative, low-energy or slow. Sometimes it just means old-fashioned. Sometimes it just refers to clothes and grooming, or technology, or how you do your job. Work out what behaviour is sending the message.
2: Stop acting old
Taking on new technology is what young people do. If you carry a paper diary, keep your client records on index cards, and never surf the web on your phone, you may need to upgrade. If you were 25 and doing this, people would see you as being behind the times. If you are acting old in these kinds of ways, and you want to change, enrol in a webinar or two, spend some time on YouTube learning to use social media, cloud-based software, imagesharing, Gmail and the latest apps. You may need to enlist the help of some young person who can explain all this. Just make sure it is someone who doesn’t work with you.
3: Stop looking old
Maybe you just look old. Or at least old-fashioned. Check when you last upgraded your glasses, your phone and your work clothes. If you are wearing an outfit that’s more than three years old, change it. Find a professional image consultant and get an image makeover. Trim or dye your eyebrows and treat any errant ear hair. Never peer over the lenses of your glasses. And if you’re carrying a few extra pounds, losing them can shed quite a few years.
4: If it’s true, make it a selling point
Maybe you’re old, you look it, and you don’t want to change. Fair enough. Consider turning this perceived weakness into a selling point for a demographic. Brand yourself for older clientele, the big batch of Baby Boomers, new retirees or about-to-retirees.
5: Play on the authority that comes with age
Being older than those around you adds an air of authority. Authority is one of Robert Cialdini’s six influence principles which allow you to persuade people more easily. Authority is why we display our certificates on our office walls, and why we pay more attention to the words of a person in uniform. Having authority tells clients that we know what we are doing. By being ‘older’ you have that kind of authority and credibility regardless of your ability. Use it.
6: Find a place it matters
No matter how young you make yourself look, you are still your age. Find a young and vibrant company in need of some gravitas. Lend them your wisdom. Be their figurehead. In this case having grey hair and furry ears is an upside.
Cindy Tonkin is the "Consultants' Consultant." She is the author of seven books, including the the Australian Consultant's Guide: Setting up your consultancy business profitably and painlessly.