Respect should be given when it is due, regardless of one’s age. However, age differences can and do lead to clashes and conflict, intentional or not. For instance, older people sometimes find it difficult to get along with and earn the respect of young people. If you’re one of those belonging to an older generation and want to establish a relationship founded on respect with younger people, consider following these simple yet effective tips.
1. Respect their ideas.
If you want young ones to respect you, then you must respect them as well. If they have ideas to share, then you must hear them out and avoid belittling their opinions. You don’t always have to agree with everything they say; in fact, you can dispute their suggestions if need be, albeit in a respectful manner. What matters is that you give them the chance to speak and be heard.
2. Don’t dismiss on account of age.
Some older people immediately dismiss their ideas, acts, or even the presence of younger people simply because of their age. Don’t be one of these people. You will never gain anyone’s respect if you discriminate against them. Also, you have to remember that maturity and intellectual competence are not exclusive to those who are more advanced in the age department. Who knows, giving equal treatment to young people might not only get you their respect, but they might teach you a thing or two as well.
3. Don’t be a bully.
Nobody likes a bully. The more you muscle and force others to do your bidding, the less respect they’ll have for you. Please don’t use your age to intimidate or scare young people; rather, use it as a means to inspire or, even better, protect those who are younger and less experienced. Be the older brother or sister they can rely on and not the older bully they want to run away from.
4. Learn to apologize.
Everyone makes mistakes, even older adults. So, you should never feel embarrassed or, worse, too proud to admit your shortcomings and apologize to young people. Saying sorry to younger folks does not take anything away from who you are; rather, it makes you look like the responsible and mature senior they should look up to and emulate. Stop being stubborn and apologize.
5. Show Patience.
A good way to earn the respect of young people is by being patient guides or mentors. If you’re teaching a junior the ins and outs of a job, for instance, offer him the patience that a reasonable senior should. Don’t harass him and tell him how useless or ignorant he is just because he failed during his first or second try. He is still learning; don’t make the experience agonizing for him. Be patient, and you’ll have someone who appreciates and respects you.
6. Have an open mind.
Older people sometimes find it difficult to keep up with the changing times, making it hard for them to understand or accept modern youth. Of course, there are bad habits that you should prevent the youth from doing, but this shouldn’t stop you from keeping an open mind. Young people will have inclinations and habits that might seem foreign to you, but instead of stopping or reprimanding them, you should support them or at least let them be. If you’re into it, you can even join them.
7. Don’t take advantage of them.
To earn young people’s respect, you should treat them right. Please do not use your seniority, advanced age, or experience to manipulate them into doing what you want. The more you exploit them, the more they will detest and lack respect for you. Be the just and fair person that young people would aspire to be like.
8. Be more approachable.
Don’t block young people from your life too much. Be more approachable to them or even be the one to reach out from time to time. By opening yourself up to more, you’ll be able to show them how kind, quirky, accommodating, and full of wisdom you are. Not only that, but you’ll also be setting yourself as a good example for them. Add all of these together, and they’ll have themselves a respectable senior to look up to.
9. Encourage them to do better.
Instead of constantly berating or power tripping younger people, be more encouraging to them. Tell them of your past failures and how you were able to bounce back or remind them that their shortcomings do not define them and that they have the potential to do great. Granted, there are times when offering sticks would be better, but consider handing them a carrot every so often. Not only will their respect for you grow, but so will their belief in themselves.
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10. Acknowledge Their Accomplishments
One positive way to make use of your seniority is by acknowledging the accomplishments of younger people. This might not be true for all people, but it feels particularly rewarding when we get words of praise or recognition from those who are older than us. It helps boost our esteem as younger people and give us the impression that we’re on the right track. So, as an older person, consider being more generous in acknowledging the accomplishments of young people. Doing this gives you huge points on the respect department.
11. Involve them in decision making.
If you want young people to respect you, then allow them to take part in decision-making. Ask for their feedback or recommendations before making a decision, especially if it will directly affect them. Doing this will give them the impression that you trust them, have confidence in them, and value their role in the group or family. Sometimes, all you have to do is involve the young ones more and make them feel like they really belong and matter.
You don’t have to push mountains to earn young people’s respect. Simple yet sincere acts and gestures are more than enough. Just remember, respect the youth, and they’ll respect you back.