5 Tips to Co-exist with Younger Coworkers


It’s a VUCA world out there!

Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity describe the climate of business today… Employees are faced with the constant shifting of demands due to technology, increasing regulatory requirements, and the expansion of resources.

If you’re among the older demographics at your office, this effect is compounded when you throw in young and ambitious coworkers and leaders. The tension to keep up with savvy leaders, flaunting their textbook knowledge, can be highly stressful. Pump the breaks! As intimidating as this may sound, there are strategies that seasoned workers can use to adapt to the new and seemingly ever-changing workplace environment.

Be Easy On Yourself

After many years of approaching and doing work assignments in what some refer to as traditional or old school methods, no one expects you to be an expert in software or platforms you’ve probably never heard of before. Everyone has their own way and pace in which they learn and gather information.

Don’t be so hard on yourself, remain patient, but be persistent in your commitment to learning. To stay grounded and prevent or decrease anxiety, take time to decompress by incorporating meditation and relaxation exercises.

Stay Curious

As the saying goes, there is no such thing as a silly question. Don’t be afraid to ask questions because you may feel as though you should know the information already. Asking questions shows that you are open-minded and willing to learn. Turning to a younger subject matter expert for guidance will expedite the learning curve and promote mutual respect and appreciation.


Take advantage of any activity that provides engagement socially or helps you to get familiar with younger or different team members. Learning about someone else’s style or strengths and weaknesses provides the opportunity for complimenting and collaborating when strategizing, problem-solving, and sharing information.

It’s How You Say It

If you are introducing a topic to a younger supervisor or coworker, the approach is one of the biggest things you must keep in mind. You don’t want to initiate a conversation the same way you would speak to your children. This will instantly stop listening. Remember you can’t do home-style while at work.

Develop an open approach. Let them know that you are open to hearing their perspective on the topic. Lead with questions helps to put this into practice. Also, when you want to share insight, lead with a gentle phrase that keeps defenses down and ears open. For example, the phrase “food for thought “or “let us revisit after some reflection.” These phrases are non-confrontational or oppositional.  This will help make the young leader feel you are taking them seriously and treating them as an adult.

Knowing When to Exit

There are instances were adjusting to a new company culture can be a smooth transition, but for those with more profound challenges, there must be a point where you take a moment to contemplate and decide if you are in the right place. For example, if the way the business operates conflicts with your core personal values, it’s time to think about letting go and moving forward.

While you might have been a perfect fit for the company during an era, things may have changed dramatically in the present. New regulations, certifications, new senior leadership, or the evolution of what is considered desirable to employees can all contribute to why you may no longer align with a company’s expectations.

So, in the words of the Serenity Prayer, “grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

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