Overcoming Age Bias
How old are you? Don't you dread this question in the watercooler? Are you struggling to be taken seriously in your workplace because you look like kiddo? You're not alone in this predicament, there are many young men and women out there that struggle every day with this issue. People not taken them seriously because they look so young they have to prove themselves daily.
Not getting respect at the workplace can be frustrating and even painful. You have everything to be successful at what you do, but because people rely on your looks (you look too young to be there), they don't listen to you, they brush your feelings and opinions aside, your ideas are never picked. It seems that you don't matter to them.
Sometimes you do everything basic to look older, dress properly, wear heels (because of course, you're short), you keep your hair under control, your makeup is basic ... but you still get mistaken for a college student. Your following the basic Looking Older 101, but maybe you need to level up and that's what we're here for. What else can you do? Maybe not all the following tips and tricks are going to be useful for everyone but it wouldn't hurt to check them out in case what you're doing right now is not working.
Make Yourself Look Older By Implementing These 6 Tips and Tricks
It's not a secret that many young women and men want to look older especially in the workplace because there are several benefits to it. The most important one being taken more seriously. Another benefit is that you're more likely to be considered for a promotion because you won't be viewed as young and inexperienced (we know, totally unfair!). Also, by looking older it's more likely that your input (like ideas and proposals) will be taken more seriously.
That's the dream, right? Well, it can be achieved. Just keep reading and take the following advice into consideration, and use the tips and modifications as you see fit.
1. Upgrade your self-presentation
If you're not presenting yourself accordingly then it would not garner the respect you're looking for. The right appearance would really work on your behalf, it determines how people see you and how much they'll respect you. Self-presentation is much more than just clothes, it includes dressing appropriately based on the situation, wearing nice and form-fitting clothes, grooming (cleanliness and proper skin-care), appropriate hairdo, and staying in shape.
Let's break this down.
All this about clothes and looks... it seems shallow, right? But the thing is that (unfortunately) people are judgy. The like to judge based on how you present yourself. How you put yourself up is a representation of how you feel about yourself and how you want others to look at you. The good news is that it's not difficult to achieve a more than acceptable self-presentation.
For example, and this may be obvious, don't wear jeans to work. even if they're acceptable on casual days Your goal is to look older to gain respect, right? Wearing jeans is not going to help you then, you should choose to wear slacks, for example. Or if the occasion calls for you to wear jeans, then go for a form-fitting pair that makes you look good and professional (avoid ones with holes or glitter).
Some women go lightly on the makeup they apply for work applying some tainted moisturize, some blush, and mascara. This effort may work but maybe they can do a little better because according to some study, there is a correlation between makeup and perceived competence. In this study, women were photographed wearing varying amounts of makeup and it was concluded that viewers of these photographs consider women wearing more makeup more competent.
Wearing some makeup (not gobs of it) increases people's perception of a woman. They think it makes them look more likable, more competent, and more trustworthy. The study also concluded the obvious: Makeup can boost a woman's attractiveness.
Take a closer look at your accessories. Regarding shoes, you'll have a good chance of looking older if you go for skinnier heels (even if you wear wedges). Wearing heels can be uncomfortable for you and will affect your confidence if you're not used to wearing them so try to find a height that you can work with. Also, make sure that your shoes and bags are of good quality and in top condition. Loose threads, scruff, and scrapes are a no-no.
Consider going bolder with your jewelry. Delicate jewelry is thought of as something young women wear. so consider exchanging your small pendant necklaces for something that makes a bolder statement like a strand of pearls. Classic and mature.
2. Practice what you're going to say
Entering a new world of professionals that have been doing the job for some time and have more experience than you can be intimidating. Your lack of experience paired with fear and nervousness makes it hard to communicate with confidence. What can you do to overcome this? Practice, practice, practice, You can practice what you're going to say in front of the mirror before that important meeting or phone call.
Being young and having no experience in the field is not easy at first because what you do daily might not be second nature to you yet. Don't worry, you'll get there and a sure way to gain the respect of your peers is by being prepared to communicate properly, with precision and clearness.
3. Ask for help when needed
As a young employee, (who wants to look older) you might make the mistake of hiding your lack of experience by not asking for help when you encounter an issue. You're afraid to expose that you don't know everything. You may have all the knowledge and be as prepared as you can be to tackle your job, but you won't know everything and that's totally OK. There's a learning curve for everything and by asking for help you're not only endearing yourself to your peers, but you'll also be getting their respect.
Remember that you don't have all the answers and asking the right ones is a sign of maturity. Your bosses want you to succeed, so they expect you to ask questions, that's how you learn and grow. You'll show them maturity and it'll be a great opportunity to gain some insight and show people you want to move forward.
4. Have confidence in yourself first
If you want others to take you seriously, then you need to take yourself seriously first. You may be young but being confident goes a long way into how people perceive you in your workplace. So fake it 'till you make it. In your work, you may have to give advice or correct a colleague more established than you. For them to trust your judgment or advice, they have to believe without a doubt that you are qualified, and for that to happen you have to believe you're qualified first.
Have confidence in yourself, it will improve the quality of your work and your co-workers will be less likely to ask about your age or even mentioned it. Confidence makes you look older like you have all the answers and that garners you respect.
5. Tweak your body language
If you want to look older and in control of the situation, and if you want to feel powerful then you need to tweak your body language. The same as with your communication, step in front of the mirror, and assess your body language so you can improve it. Through body language, you can assert control and communicate strength and power. What can you do to improve it or tweaked it a little? Don't over-nod, this might make you look like a pushover, nod just when you agree with someone. A smile goes a long way and it makes you seem nice and approachable but don't fake a smile, it'll make you look weak and disingenuous.
Your feet reflect your attitude so point your feet towards the person you're talking to because this is a sign of genuine interest and respect. You'll be reciprocated. When you walk into a room, be confident in your moves, Don't tuck your legs or cross your arms, or turtle your shoulders.
6. Manage your time at work
One thing you can control and can boost your reputation among your colleagues and bosses is how you manage your time in a workday. You're working to gain their respect, right? Then be proactive and turn your reports a day in advance, or be the first to show up ready to attack a meeting, or stay on top of all the emails and phone calls. Practice this daily, it'll be worth it.
Making the effort to look older so people don't treat you like kiddo at work is not so difficult. Just remember to dress accordingly, tweak your body language, be confident in what you are, and most importantly, be patient. Respect and trust take time, you'll get there just be consistent.