How Not to Act Old at Work

Hint: Don’t bring the donuts.

By Pamela Redmond Satran • Guest Writer
Bet she never acted old in her day.
Photograph: Photo by iStock

Don’t arrive at the crack of dawn and make everybody feel guilty for not being there as early as you. If you’re bushy-tailed and at your desk by 6:35, at least have the good grace to keep your mouth shut about it.

Don’t bring the donuts. You don’t need to be Mommy or Daddy to the entire office, showing up with coffee, remembering all the birthdays, making sure everybody signs the card.

Stifle the self-aggrandizing anecdotes. Reminiscing about the year you almost won the Pulitzer or that time you saved the company a million dollars won’t convince people you’re cooler than they already think you are.

Don’t be tough. The young gestalt is much softer and less direct. People ask questions and seem to defer to others even when they have a strong opinion. And if they want to do it their way anyway, they’ll just go ahead without discussion or confrontation.

Don’t stay glued to your chair. Rolling everywhere, avoiding getting up and walking across the room, and sitting there till your ass grows around the cushion is definitely acting old—and won’t do much for the way you look, either.

No long-range planning. Looking too far ahead, wanting firm commitments on times and places far (i.e., more than a day or two) into the future, is definitely an old thing. If you simply must plan (I know I must), do it in secret and be flexible if things change.

Don’t be a human archive. There may be value in having someone at a company who can detail the résumés of everyone who has held a job there since 1981, who can remember what year manual typewriters were upgraded to electrics and when secretaries were replaced by voice mail. But there isn’t much value in letting that person be you.

From How Not to Act Old: 185 Ways to Pass for Phat, Sick, Hot, Dope, Awesome, or at Least Not Totally Lame by Pamela Redmond Satran. Copyright 2009 by Pamela Redmond Satran. Published by Harper Paperbacks, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

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Check out Satran’s hilarious book, How Not to Act Old.

Pam’s blog

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First Published Thu, 2010-09-02 12:43

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