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Ask Sue
A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem

Tips for Young Workers

Dear Sue: I am an Academic Advisor. A student of mine recently asked me how to approach and deal with professionals who are older, wiser and more experienced than she is.

I encouraged listening a lot, demonstrating respectful behaviors and monitoring her language. Do you have other ideas to add to my advice?

- Jen

Sue Says: While it is important to show respect for others, it is important to show respect for yourself too. You may be younger and less experienced than many of the older and wiser people you encounter, but never diminish the value you bring to others and to an organization.

You have skills and knowledge that others (especially older workers) may lack. Your inexperience, open mindedness and your naiveté enables you to envision outcomes and a workplace that others no longer see or have given up on. Your energy, enthusiasm and vision can be a welcome relief for those who have stopped dreaming and resigned themselves to the way things are.

Don't fear those older than you; most people enjoy helping others and appreciate being asked for advice. Ask for clarification when you don’t understand something. Ask someone to show you how, to tell you why, and to talk about their journey. Ask someone the most important lessons they’ve learned over the years, what they wish they had one differently. Ask someone to mentor you. Ask for help when you need it.

You show respect for others when you do things their way and conform to their standards. Some young adults resist wearing more conservative and appropriate styled clothing to work. Look and act like those who are already successful and you will be perceived positively; when you resist conforming and fail to meet expectations, others may perceive you negatively.

Respect yourself; value the contribution you are, and be humble. One of the most important aspects of any job, especially when you are starting out, is to listen and to learn. Your education is far from over. You may no longer be in a college classroom, but there is much to learn in the classroom of life. The more burning your desire to listen, learn, and conform, the better off you will be

Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She is author of the newly released 101 Tips for Graduates and How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at or visit her web site at

Send Sue your questions by clicking here: Ask Sue
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