Respect For Elders Only Goes So Far

by admin on March 21, 2016

I’m wondering about something that at my workplace and how to handle it.

I’ve just started working as a counselor in a large office. There are a lot of people who have been here for decades and, at thirty five years of age, I’m one of the youngest. I’m letting my grey hair grow out a little, I dress very conservatively and professionally, and I am polite and courteous at all times. In spite of this though, I’ve encountered a few people who seem to think that they need to explain random things to me “in case I don’t know better”.

One woman pointed out that I should wear my hair up all the time. Another prefers specific jewelry on me. One of the men made his opinion on hair and nail care known in no uncertain terms (my nails are short, clean, and have very sheer/pale pink polish and my hair is a long bob that’s always tidy). Again, I look professional and well groomed. My clothing choices are usually pant or skirt suits or knee length dresses with hosiery. I do not wear bright colours, loud patterns, short skirts, or sleeveless or low cut tops and I leave my red lipstick at home.

I am extremely respectful. I never let doors slam behind me, I always hold them and let others go before me and so on. I do not interrupt people or bring smelly food for lunch. I wash dishes that have been left in the sink by others. I try to always be at my best here.

But here is what I’m wondering about. Aside from a few spots reserved for managers, parking is not assigned and it’s on a first come, first served basis. I got to the office early today (as usual) and, as I was backing into a spot, a man approached me. I rolled down my window to see what he wanted and he said that he’s not trying to be “anal” but I should be respectful of my elders and park farther down the lot. It was raining and I had a lot of things to carry. Regardless, I moved four spots down to keep him happy.

I completely understand the importance of respecting one’s elders. But our office has an absurd amount of staircases and everyone here can manage them just fine. We do not have senior citizens working here and we have a lot of reserved spots for clients in front of the building. No one needs special parking privileges in employee parking. And our parking lot is really small so parking at the end isn’t a big deal at all.

What I’m annoyed by is how this guy felt that it was his place to condescendingly tell me what he thought I should do when there’s no policy for it. Am I over reacting by being annoyed? And should I make a point of always parking farther away even though no one else does? Also it should be noted that this guy doesn’t normally work from our office; he’s just here because it’s quieter here than at his normal one today. I did ask my boss about this and he confirmed that there are no parking “rules” here and that it’s the first he’s heard of the issue. It kind of felt like the guy was just trying to save a good spot for his buddy.

So I need advice on how to grow a polite spine here for when these things happen. Should I comply with the “suggestions” from my “elders” or should I just politely carry on and do my job? I don’t want to upset anyone but I also have the right to not be bothered too. I am always open to legitimate feedback but some of the things I’m being “advised” on are a little absurd and completely unnecessary. What would be a good way to handle future “suggestions” without ruffling feathers please? 0314-16

In regards to comments about your appearance, the only opinion that matters is your boss’s and if he doesn’t appear to have an issue with your workplace attire, you can smile at the silly comments of your co-workers and then completely flush it out of your mind.   Frankly, to me you sound a bit defensive so you haven’t learned yet to be inwardly confident of your choices of clothing, hygiene and how you behave in the office and so you get rattled by every comment you hear.   A significant part of having a polite spine is having the inner conviction that you live your life based on good principles that then translates into having a calm yet polite spine.

As for the co-worker who opined that for you to show proper respect for your elders by parking farther down the lot, I would have sweetly asked him, “I will move but I have a lot to carry into the building and am in need of a gentleman to help me. Would you know of one?”

{ 88 comments… read them below or add one }

Lenore March 21, 2016 at 3:47 am

The way you describe your outfits etc – sounds very professional, neat and also very classic. If anyone has anything to say about what you wear and what *they* would prefer, just smile, say thank you and mentally assign those comments to the circular file.

As for the parking situation, maybe say something like “Thank you, but this is an unreserved space, which makes it available to everyone in the office on a first-come, first-served basis.”

Unfortunately one does often encounter older people who think that just because they’re a few years older than you, they can lord it over you. However, respect does have to be earned, and treating me like a wayward child when I have done nothing to warrant that would make it hard for me to respect them.

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AnaMaria March 21, 2016 at 9:52 am

Agreed. It sounds like your co-workers must be insecure in themselves- like they can’t handle seeing someone younger who can carry the same professional responsibility as they can- so they are trying to lord over you and and transfer their insecurity to you. If you love what you do, don’t let them take it from you. I’m assuming you must have some serious education and some good work experience under your belt to have this job in the first place- be confident in yourself!

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Michelle March 21, 2016 at 9:58 am

I totally agree with Lenore. You outfits sound absolutely fine for the office and if your boss has no issue with your clothing choices, feel free to ignore the comments by your “helpful” coworkers.

First-come, first-serve parking means just that. You do not have to park at the end of the lot if a closer space is available. If your coworkers need accommodations, they can ask for them and submit the necessary documentation. Otherwise, Mr. Parking Monitor can mind his own business and work from his office.

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Michelle Young March 21, 2016 at 5:13 am

I love the “would you know of one?” bit, because if he’s going to pull the “respect your elders” thing, you should be allowed to pull the “chivalry” thing, and a gentleman would have given the closer parking to a lady.

Of course, I’m all about who needs it most, and that is based on physical ability, not age or gender. Some of the spryest people I’ve met have been old ladies. In their 90’s. So, neither gender nor age is a true indication of physical ability. Young men get disabilities, too, and they aren’t always obvious.

Also, having to carry a lot of stuff in the rain counts, in my book, as a temporary excuse to park closer. Not in a handicapped reserved spot, to be sure, but if it’s open parking, by all means, park closer.

I feel you on being the youngest. When I was 29, I was the youngest in my particular department at work, and was not infrequently called “Baby,” by some of my co-workers. They did not mean to denigrate my work. I was good, and they knew it. But, yeah, the age thing was important to them. I didn’t let it bother me, though.

People will say silly things. Learning to just nod and smile is a very useful skill.

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NostalgicGal March 21, 2016 at 11:00 pm

I agree, I love the comment about ‘gentleman’.

I went into a temp assignment and had someone chew me out on the second day just because I nicely asked her to put a box of papers in a place, because I was organizing the rest. She seriously lost it, chewed me a new one, and the fellow behind her was silently laughing his head off. He did after she left, console me and try to make me feel better. Later I got hired and became her boss. I treated her with kindness and respect but she just couldn’t handle I got promoted over her… and finally she bailed for another department.

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lkdrymm March 21, 2016 at 5:17 am

You seem to be confusing ‘elder’ with ‘supervisor’. That is the only person you need to worry about. These people are bullying you and taking great joy in watching how high you jump when they snap their fingers. Stop it. Next time someone comments on your appearance please tell them out inappropriate that is.

I was promoted to a high position at an early age (24) and I came across this alot with elder employees not willing to accept the opinion or direction of such a young person. That is their problem to deal with not yours.

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Ant March 21, 2016 at 5:26 am

To answer the question: What would be a good way to handle future “suggestions” without ruffling feathers please? NONE. You need to ruffle feathers. The fact is if you acquiesce to these continued suggestions you become a doormat and background worker that will probably be ignored. As the admin said, at 35 you really need to develop the conviction to be confident in your actions. As for the specific response to their comments I’d say any appearance comments should be met by pulling out the employee handbook and asking for the page number of the policy and they persist or say say it’s an unwritten rule say “oh really I was unaware of wearing hair up being an unwritten rule, I shall have to contact HR/ your manager and ask why I was not informed of this policy. Whilst I’m at it I’ll make sure to mention that you are keeping an eye out on your junior, female’s colleagues appearance, as obviously as not being my manager someone must have authorised you to do this”. As for parking, everyone loves to make up the rules. The classic being people getting annoyed because another person has parked outside their house even though the street is government owned. I’d have asked how using a facility on a first come- first served basis was a sign of disrespect. If pressed I’d have said anyone unconformable with an extra 10 yard walk could always use the disabled bays and contact building management to say they were felling rather elderly and needed to shorten their walk today. Yes these replies would cause a few waves but I’ve been in that junior /lacky role and I can tell you won’t been seen as an equal by bending over backwards to everyone’s demands. Only your manager can tell you what to do and only then if it is in line with your contract.

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Becca March 21, 2016 at 1:18 pm

The lady across my street thinks she owns the street outside of her house. She left a long winded postage note saying she’d call the cops if my friend didn’t move her vehicle. It was hilarious while at the same time I felt bad if the police had to deal with her shenanigans frequently enough. So I just tell folks not to park there unless absolutely necessary only to save the cops who in my town, I actually really appreciate. If there are no other spaces and they park there, she can bring it on because then the gloves are off, that’s just me picking battles though. I wouldn’t blame anyone else for parking there out of spite afterwards.

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Ant March 22, 2016 at 4:11 am

It’s not a matter of spite, it’s convenience: mostly someone across the road /down the street is parked outside their house therefor I will stop here and walk. I’ve known some people get really worked up about it and I’ve never understood why people see the street as part of their land. My sister had a female neighbour fake a back injury just so she could have a disabled permit bay put outside her house. The weird thing was she always avoided parking there if she could (often parking in front of everyone else’s house), she just liked not having a car in front of her house. And before you ask, yes we do know she was not in fact disabled, after ~a year the badge she had seemed to go missing but we believe the doctor stopped signing her as disabled but the bay stayed for a long time afterwards. We know this because there was apparently a massive commotion when another neighbour’s grandfather turned up and parked there. A few hours and several arguments later the police came, ruled he had the right to stay and, as she couldn’t produce a disable permit, told her she needed to go see a doctor before she can park outside her house again

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Just4Kicks March 21, 2016 at 7:00 am

Respectfully to the Admin., I didn’t take OP comments about her office attire as defensive, more of a personal check list.
No low cut blouses….check…etc.

In my personal opinion, I think the man that asked her to move was rude and out of line with the respect your elders line.
They are all adults working in an office, again just my opinion, but in my mind, that makes everyone equals.
OP isn’t a skate punk on a skateboard weaving in and out of people on walkers.

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SJ March 24, 2016 at 12:36 am

I think you may be right.

Yes, people will always make comments we don’t like. Yes, we don’t have to care what they say. But the frequency of these people’s comments is so annoying. Tedious.

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Dominic March 21, 2016 at 7:11 am

Regarding the comments about your appearance, these people are treading on thin ice. In the US, there are court cases about exactly this type of harassment. I suggest OP have another talk with her boss about the culture at her workplace, not to cause trouble or threaten, but so the boss can bump her comments up the chain and hopefully head off a problem.

Regarding the parking, OP was under no obligation to move, and by doing so, is falling into the trap of being pushed around. While there’s no need to be aggressive and OP is already doing everything to fit in, there’s also nothing to be gained in being entirely passive and getting walked all over by her “seniors.” While the comment about finding a gentleman to help is cute and humorous, I wouldn’t want to give any opening for co-workers to further see OP as a “helpless young woman.” Continue to behave in a professional and polite manner, learn what you can, and if the atmosphere of the workplace eventually becomes toxic (i.e., if these comments are only early symptoms of problems to come), know when to leave for a better workplace.

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Lisa March 21, 2016 at 7:25 am

Honestly, this all sounds ridiculous and I don’t know how you can stand working there. The continuous comments on your appearance cross a line that should be given a very wide berth. At 35 you are hardly a child and I would certainly resent being treated like one.

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Mal March 21, 2016 at 7:45 am

Don’t underestimate the power of “that’s the way it’s always been done”. It _will_ upset people if you go against those norms that have become unwritten rules over the years. So either you comply or you go against them and learn to live with the backlash. Just be prepared for frustration because you’re probably not gonna change the system.

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CW March 21, 2016 at 8:18 am

The only person that has the right to dictate dress code is the management. If none of them have made any comment to you about something being inappropriate then wear what you feel is professional and complies with the written dress code policy. Personally, I would have no issue telling my “elders” that my outfit is none of their concern. But that’s me.

As far as parking is concerned. Park where it is convenient for you that day. If someone has an issue with the spot you have chosen, they should have gotten to the office sooner.

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Willynilly March 21, 2016 at 8:30 am

There is only one age at work – adult. You do not need to “respect your elders” because at work it is the height of *disrespectful* to consider coworkers elderly. If they are spry enough to work, they are your equals plain and simple.

Quite frankly it sounds like you are either hyper sensitive and notice too much, or you are being bullied. Unless you are a model or something where your appearance is a huge part of your job duties, your appearance and clothing should not be up for discussion and dissection from your coworkers. Feel free to tell people as much “I am dressed professionally, my appearance is not up for discussion. Now about that project report…”

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Anon March 21, 2016 at 8:45 am

Working in the OP’s office sounds frustrating and annoying, bordering on maddening. I don’t believe the OP is unsure of herself or sounds defensive. It is quite disconcerting to have one view of reality (that she looks neat and put together, dresses conservatively) and for others to act as if there’s a entirely different second reality at play (adults telling her, another adult, how to dress, wear her hair, do her makeup and park her car). It could make even the most centered and confident adult question what’s going on. OP, you did nothing wrong, and you seem to have found yourself in an office with a very strange culture in which people feel free to express their opinions about another person’s appearance. This is very rude, and very presumptuous. Anyone would get a little rattled with such unbelievable yet repeated behavior.

OP, I think you have to come up with a phrase to politely shut down those comments. To the commenters about hair and nails, perhaps something like, “It’s sweet of you to be concerned, but I don’t feel comfortable discussing my appearance with you. I’d appreciate it if you dropped this as a topic so we can focus on work.” I don’t think you just have to smile and accept these comments. You can politely push back, because these are NOT appropriate comments.

To the parking guy, I might have said “Oh really? I wasn’t aware that there was an official policy. Knowing my coworkers, I think they would not appreciate it if they thought I was thinking of them as elderly! I have a lot to carry in this morning in any case.” Then, park your car and go on with your day. It’s not your fault this guy has a totally unrealistic expectation.

It sounds like a few bad (or clueless) apples. When they learn that you find their comments unwelcome and unprofessional, I think they will drop it.

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ArtsBeatLA March 21, 2016 at 6:38 pm

Perfect comment – I wholeheartedly agree with all the points made here by anon, especially “I don’t think you just have to smile and accept these comments. You can politely push back, because these are NOT appropriate comments.”

OP does not sound defensive – merely beleaguered.

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EchoGirl March 21, 2016 at 7:31 pm

I was going to say the same, Anon. When multiple people are all correcting you, especially when you’re the newcomer, it makes you wonder seriously if you’re the one in the wrong, regardless of how confident you may otherwise be.

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Anna March 21, 2016 at 8:49 am

Respecting your elders does not mean letting them tromp all over you. In fact, if you allow comments of these “elders” to affect your behavior, you are a) going to be changing your behavior all the time because everyone is going to have a different opinion, and you can’t please everyone and b) you are always going to be seen as someone that everyone can boss around, and that isn’t necessarily good for your career. Worry about things like doing your job well, presenting yourself professionally, and let everything that does not have to do with these things slide off your back.

In the parking situation, I think it would have been perfectly reasonable to say “there are several handicapped spots available for those who need them” (assuming that is the case) and leave it at that.

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Vic March 21, 2016 at 8:57 am

When someone suggests you change your style of dress,nailpolish, etc., calmly look them in the eye, smile a little, and say “I’m happy with my appearance. Thanks.” Then, hold their gaze. The idea isn’t to be confrontational. It’s to show that you are their equal. Frankly, it doesn’t sound like you think you are. You seem to be the one obsessing about age. You’re too concerned with showing respect to your elders. You should be more concerned with respect between colleagues (both giving and receiving). When you believe that you are an equal and deserving of the same respect, you will start acting that way, and I suspect your colleagues’ attitudes will adjust accordingly.

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ArtsBeatLA March 21, 2016 at 6:45 pm

Vic, re your comment “You seem to be the one obsessing about age. You’re too concerned with showing respect to your elders.”

I emphatically disagree. I feel you’re either projecting or simply reading far too much into OP’s explanations, which in my view read as details for our information rather than expressing insecurities.

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lakey March 21, 2016 at 10:40 pm

The situation with the male worker in the parking lot suggests that others may hold the view that, as her elders, they are entitled to boss her around. I would find the comments about her personal dress and appearance to be extremely rude. Personally, I think that she should keep a journal of all of the personal comments so that if these people create problems for her in the future she is prepared to stand up for herself.

So she can start out by unemotionally saying, “Thank you for your concern,” every single time. This is the broken record method. They’ll start to realize that she is deliberately repeating herself. If this doesn’t do the trick and she has further problems with her, she can at least show with her diary, that they are sticking their noses into her private business. In most workplaces, it is not the job of co-workers to tell their fellow employees how to dress.

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Green123 March 21, 2016 at 9:10 am

I think you should bean dip when someone tries to talk about your clothing, hair, nails etc. Your colleagues sound quite patronising, so don’t allow them to be so, and insist on being treated as an equal. If someone comments on your hairstyle, comment on the weather, or that yummy-looking cake in the break room. If someone tries to ‘mansplain’ or ‘oldsplain’ to you, nod and say ‘thank you for confirming what I already was aware of’.

First come first served parking is first come first served parking. If people in your office have disabilities which mean they need to park close to the door, fine, they should be allocated accordingly. Otherwise, first come first served parking is first come first served parking. Rinse and repeat!

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Angela March 22, 2016 at 8:46 am

Agreed. Say “mmmmm….are you going to the meeting this afternoon? “

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MyWorld March 21, 2016 at 9:11 am

I think you might be reading way more into what people are saying than what they mean!
I would just accept statements like “you should always wear your hair up” as a compliment. “Thanks! I love wearing it up on occasion” Ditto for the comments on your jewelry. As for the guy in the parking lot, I agree with Lenore about politely stating that it is an unreserved parking spot available for anyone.

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Kim March 21, 2016 at 9:23 am

I can see why OP would be defensive. Sounds like she’s been living with these comments for quite a while and she’s done. The comments are inappropriate. Polite spine, OP! Push back (within reason), stop letting these people get away with such condescending behaviour.

Etiquette matters aside, I disagree with admin’s suggestion that you should ask a “gentleman” to help carry your things. It’s 2016 and I’m a 41 yr old woman and have my own muscle and can carry my own things or take multiple trips. If something is heavy enough, you might need a “person” to help you carry it, but that person could be either male or female. And if you are physically limited in what you can do, you can still ask for help from people, but no need to summon a man specifically. Consider it a workout, and working out is a good thing, people. Our bones need it, to stay strong and healthy, to say nothing of the rest of our bodies. Gah, that erks me.

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CW March 21, 2016 at 11:46 am

I’m pretty sure admin was using the gentleman line as a slightly snarky comeback. It’s not that the OP is incapable of carrying her items herself, it’s that this man had the nerve to comment on her parking decision because she’s younger. It’s only fair that OP respond with a knock on his ability to be chivalrous. He may catch the drift, he may not. But it would make me chuckle all day either way.

I’m perfectly capable of carrying my own things as well. But that doesn’t mean I won’t accept the assistance of my significant stronger spouse if he offers it. There’s being independent and then there’s being rude.

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bern821 March 21, 2016 at 12:22 pm

I think Admin was being a little ‘tongue in cheek’ with her comment about parking lot guy. Asking a man where one might find a gentleman is telling said man that he is NOT one. 🙂

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Kim March 21, 2016 at 4:36 pm

And that may very well be the case, and many people may consider it harmless but we have to be mindful of perpetuating harmful gender stereotypes. And there are a lot of women who are stronger than a lot of men.

Sure, men generally have more upper body strength, but women can carry their own groceries and bags. I have been known to carry half of a sofa, and half a washer and a dryer up and down stairs, my husband taking the other half. I count it in my daily exercise.

Anyway, back to the etiquette … 🙂

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lakey March 21, 2016 at 10:43 pm

It doesn’t need to be considered gender related, but more along the line of, if you want me to walk further, then the least you can do is help me haul all this stuff into the building.

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Becca March 21, 2016 at 1:29 pm

It’s a way of bringing men with a complex of “you’re below me” down a peg or two, I’ve learned it after years of being a woman in a male dominated work world. They give me that “Oh sweet darling, I know better than you, let me be patronizing to the little lady.” garbage and I’m like “Oh dear, oh my, thank you for saving the damsel, how would I ever live without you?” It’s changed many tunes over the years for these guys who are trying to intimidate me with their “manliness”.

This guy is using his age and also his stature as a man to tell the OP how to park. So by saying “Oh gee can a gentleman help me out with this.” is a way of cutting him down because he will often stop and think “Wow, she’s being so nice while telling me to stick it.”

Some won’t get it of course, that’s when my nice-nice goes away, the sickenly sweet dries up and I’m like “Listen, bruh, let me talk your language then.” comes out. Everything after that line will probably get me cast into E-Hell but roughnecks sometimes just need us to come down to their low level.

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psammead March 21, 2016 at 11:44 pm

I don’t think admin is suggesting that OP should “ask a gentleman” to help her carry her stuff, so much as proposing a sly way–“would you know of one?”–of telling the shmuck who is lecturing her for parking too close to the door (instead of immediately offering to help as a courteous person would) that he is NOT a gentleman.

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AppleEye March 21, 2016 at 9:34 am

“Thank you for your concern.” Repeat as necessary, and simply carry on as usual.

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Ant March 22, 2016 at 4:41 am

Slightly rude but “Thank you for your concern…” is a great way to start a response. For example followed by “But I’m perfectly happy with the way MY hair is styled” (with a heavy stress on the my, whilst looking the person up and down). “But I’m perfectly happy with the way MY nails look”. “But I’m sure MY cloths are both perfectly suitable attire”. “But I’m sure no-one in this building thinks themselves so old and decrepit that they cannot walk an extra 10 yards today.”

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Dyan March 21, 2016 at 9:48 am

i have to say I LOVE admin’s answer…if you would like to help me carry all my stuff in I will certainty move my car…

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L.J. March 21, 2016 at 9:55 am

Even as a child, I noticed that those who used the phrase “respect your elders” were always people who couldn’t earn respect on their own.

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Michelle Young March 21, 2016 at 9:04 pm

In general, I like older people. They have stories! They have LIVED! When they tell you life-lessons they have learned, I try to learn from them, so I don’t have to experience the same things, and learn the hard way.

But yeah, the ones I like best and respect most are NOT the ones demanding the respect. They are simply living worthy of respect, and it comes. And some older people are just jerks (parking lot dude), and do not deserve respect, regardless of age.

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Ulla March 22, 2016 at 5:09 am

It’s bit like the “nice guy” (or nice person) -brand. If you need to state you are nice guy/girl/person, it too often means that you can’t live up the requirements of nice. Instead you feel the need to convince others with words instead of actions.

I agree with you about our elders. Age does not magically grant grace, wisdom and manners. If one was rude lout as child, teenager and adult, unfortunately there is no worst by date at which point that person is suddenly the sweetest old gentleman or lady. My personal opinion is, that all living beings (from ants to humans) deserve basic respect, just because they are living beings and thus should be treated as such, instead of being treated as “things”. But to be respected as person, that is something you earn.

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Julia March 21, 2016 at 9:59 am

Argh, I too spend a lot of time with older people who think that a couple decades’ difference means they can tell me how to behave, and I’m older than you. A polite smile, bean dipping, and forgetting whatever instructions they have are my usual strategy. Frankly, you owe those people nothing. This is a work situation and you’re being professional. Comments about your appearance are unprofessional and frankly inappropriate. And the guy who told you where to park? I would have told him just where he could stick his opinion. No, actually. I would have smiled, finished parking, and gone about my business.
The important thing is not to accommodate this attitude. Being the “little one” in this group means you will not get the recognition you deserve for your work and that you’ll be the first one people at the office think of for extra (unpaid) work.

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Sarah March 21, 2016 at 10:26 am

In regard to comments on your appearance I would stick to Miss Manners favorite reply to unasked for advice: “How kind of you to take an interest.” Or you could tell the others what you like/dislike about THEIR clothing/jewelry, etc. Just think how the man would react to your opinions on his choice of tie, cuff links, etc!

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stacey March 21, 2016 at 10:30 am

O.P.- you’re doing everything right. Just my opinion following: you may just be a people-pleaser that invites getting henpecked. It’s not a bad thing to be a people-pleaser or to be other-centered, generally. When it gets too far, though, it’s an uncomfortable identity to modify. You’ve got your act together. You just need to find your voice. It’s an issue that many struggle with (including myself) and can be traced (usually) to family-of-origin baggage and somewhat strict parents. Take the time to find (and USE) your voice when you need it. Polish up that nice, shiny spine and advocate for yourself! YOU sound perfectly fabulous and YOU can do this!

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edy March 21, 2016 at 10:34 am

I disagree with admin, and frankly find the response condescending. I have a particularly hard time with this sentence
“Frankly, to me you sound a bit defensive so you haven’t learned yet to be inwardly confident…”

As a 35 year old woman who has been in a professional work environment for almost half my life, I would be livid over being told how to wear my hair, jewelry, makeup, etc. by a co-worker. It has nothing to do with confidence, it is not appropriate to give this kind of “advice” to a colleague. It is extremely patronizing. These co-workers may be older, but OP is not a child and they are not her parents.

As a 35-year old woman in a professional office environment, I would also never…and I mean NEVER…ask a colleague to be a “gentleman” and carry something for me. Especially in male-dominated fields, women are still fighting against stereotypes and it does no good to play into them by playing the weak woman role.

As for myself, I would not bother fighting the good fight over the parking space jerk, since he is not a regular in the office. I would say, “I have a lot to carry today, but I will keep your suggestion in mind in the future.” As for the inappropriate advice about your personal appearance, I would say, “I believe I’m following the office dress code as I’m dressed right now, but I’m sure supervisor will let me know if there is something I overlooked.” Or “I know your intentions are good, but I do not believe that I need advice about my personal appearance or attire.” Or evil me might pick out something on themselves that would make them look “more youthful” and suggest that to them. in hopes that they got the hint.

And for goodness sakes, don’t make appearance changes that you don’t want to. If you want to show your grays that’s fine, but don’t do it just for these know-it-alls.

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admin March 21, 2016 at 11:22 am

If you have such intense emotional reactions (“livid”) to silly things people who have no authoritative influence in your life say to you, you have utterly missed the point. You are a hostage to your own emotions and have let inconsequential people determine your equilibrium and state of mind. It’s nigh on impossible to hide a “livid” reaction so people learn that you have buttons that can be pushed and they will push them because some people are evil that way. I never concede that kind of power over me to anyone and certainly not the power to affect my contentment with myself.

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edy March 21, 2016 at 1:29 pm

I’ll concede that livid is too strong of a word. I would not explode in a defensive rage. Neither would I have an equally inappropriate come back based on their age, like I joked above. But I would not pretend that something is OK if it is clearly not OK.

I tend to give a person the benefit of the doubt if they say something rude once or twice, as everyone puts their foot in their mouth from time to time. But from the original submission, it sounds like the comments are ongoing. When you ignore something on an ongoing basis, you send the message that you are OK with it. These are not strangers on the street, these are people who she needs to work with on a regular basis. Mutual respect is important and to ignore the condescending comments does not breed respect on either end.

If people see a totally valid reaction to an in appropriate comment as a weakness and try to exploit it, it becomes an issue for HR to handle.

As a side note, I can’t imagine a well groomed 35-year old man in a suit being condescended in the same way, or being expected to sit by quietly if he were.

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Becca March 21, 2016 at 2:03 pm

I’ve cut a few knees out from under men who realize that I’m being snarky with them when I play into their sexist commentary.

You can come from either angle with them. Sometimes you go down to their level and then laugh at them as you stand back up and are yet again taller than they ever were. I work in a rough industry though, where my male counterparts will tell you that they’ve seen me turn from using my sugary sweet disposition to get us all further in the long run and then cutting them down to size when they think they can then use that to their advantage later down the road. You never know what is behind those sweet eyes when you step over the line.

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MM March 21, 2016 at 5:40 pm

Agree with you, Edy.

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Adereterial March 21, 2016 at 10:38 am

Respect is earned, not a right bestowed by age. Evil Adereterial is inclined to remind them of that.

What you wear and where you park is no-ones concern but you and your boss. I’d ignore them, personally, but if it bothers you, I’d suggest raising your concerns with your boss. Maintaining a positive working environment is their responsibility, and your colleagues are treating you differently due your age. In the UK that’s prohibited, by law. Your area may differ, but discrimination (which is what this is), is not OK anywhere.

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Aletheia March 21, 2016 at 12:01 pm

If this is in the US, the law there regarding age discrimination only applies to employers; they can’t hold your age against you while hiring, nor can they limit your duties and pay because of it (or burden you with more duties, I imagine, due to you being “young enough to handle it,” though I’m not sure on this bit). Your fellow employees are a different story; they aren’t bound by those laws, and unless they’re harassing you for your age there’s usually nothing that can be done. Then there’s all the difficulties about reporting *and proving* that your employer discriminated against you for your age and… yeah. US employment laws aren’t the best.

Though what the OP is going for *might* be construed as workplace harassment, even if it hasn’t crossed the border to making it an unsafe workplace or whatever. I’m sure her boss and/or HR (depending on how the company is set up) would be interested in knowing how the other employees are treating her… though they’ll probably find out and know exactly who said something, too, so OP may want to consider *that* route carefully. She could also try talking to the employees themselves…

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Adereterial March 21, 2016 at 2:57 pm

In the UK, it’s illegal to discriminate on what are defined under the Equality Act as ‘protected characteristics – age, gender (including the spectrum of trans-gender/gender fluidity, and special protections for pregnant women), sexual orientation, disability, religion and race. There are a few exceptions which allow employers/service (public or private) to be exempt from the rules but only on legitimate grounds – a women’s support centre can legitimately specify female workers, casting agents can specify a particular race, gender & age, services in historic buildings don’t have to provide wheelchair access if it’s impractical, etc. But otherwise – it applies to everyone, not just employers.

In this case, the OP could bring a claim for age discrimination by her colleagues under UK (and probably EU law), and against her employer if they fail to act to resolve it when informed. If it’s a male making comments about her clothing, that could also be sexual harassment. I have personally participated in disciplinary proceedings against a member of my staff for discrimination on religious grounds (anti-Semitic comments made to colleagues and customers), and inappropriate comments made to the youngest female member of the team. They were dismissed for gross misconduct.

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Tana March 22, 2016 at 6:13 am

In the US age discrimination actually doesn’t work that way. It only kicks in when you’re over 40 and is designed to prevent companies from using adverse personnel actions to unilaterally get rid of more experienced and therefore higher paid employees. Or for failing to hire them in the first place. It won’t do anything to help a younger employee unless they’re being discriminated against on a differently protected characteristic.

As for the parking, a lot of companies over time develop unofficial but still understood parking spaces for employees, even though they are not labelled, a new person coming in and stomping on this tradition who has not earned their spot so to speak can be in for issues. I’d subtly ask around if despite the parking lot being officially open, is it really open in actuality.

At our apartment complex we do not have assigned parking (except for extra handicapped spaces, if you need one, you’ll get an extra space assigned with your apartment number on it, in addition to the open space in front of your building.) BUT that being said, everyone knows where everyone’s car belongs. Marked or not. Newcomers kind of get pointed to whichever space the people before them had. It’s just an unwritten community rule, but you get really nasty looks for not getting it after you’ve had it explained.

And despite the fact that you’re well groomed, etc. I’d take a look around me at whatever everyone else is wearing. If you’re too formal above that or too informal below that, they might be trying to steer you to the cultural norms there. The hair and nails are probably a bit over, but I’d look at the general clothing look, you can still be yourself and ignore them, but at least acknowledge that you’re being different and have your own style.

They could on the other hand just be bossy pants types. I had a coworker like that, because she was way older she thought she could treat me like her kid. I refused to have any of it.

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Betsy March 21, 2016 at 10:46 am

She doesn’t sound defensive to me!

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Ashley March 21, 2016 at 11:00 am

I like admin’s response about asking if there was a gentleman around to help carry stuff. Could be utilized in the future if you have stuff to carry. But, you could also be direct and if he approaches you again say “I was concerned about parking rules I might have missed after our last conversation, so I spoke to management and they assured me it’s first come first serve, regardless of seniority. Have a nice day!” and then go on with your day as usual.

I hate to say it but I’m 29, and whenever I encounter rude people, it’s never the teenagers or younger people that you might expect it to be, it’s always people who are like, 50+ years old. Drives me batty.

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Michelle Young March 21, 2016 at 9:12 pm

Heeeheheeeee! “So I spoke to management, and…” You can speak to management without mentioning any names, or getting anyone in trouble. Simply confirm that it is “first come, first served,” and still truly say that you spoke to management, and get him ALL nervous and psyched out.

Love it.

I have met some exceedingly polite teens, yep. Someone’s doing a good job.

I think it was John Scalzi who recently tweeted that he’s seen three generations that were described as spoiled and entitled, and it’s some sort of a thing – the elders blaming the youth. I think Aristotle said the same thing? Sounds to me like the older people are simply being a bit spoiled, themselves, and using youth as a scapegoat.

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Ashley March 22, 2016 at 10:35 am

Well, she did speak to management so I figure it applies!

And don’t get me wrong here, if someone came along who truly needed the spot and she wanted to give it up, that’s fine, but she shouldn’t give it up just because someone says “hey I’m older than you”.

There was actually a comedian who did a Ted-talk type thing about this exact topic. Ever since history has been recorded, SOMEONE has been complaining about “youths”. In my experience, it’s been the opposite, the older generations are the one’s with issues because of how younger generations adapt to change.

Also, to be clear, I know some awesome members of generations that came before me. But this issue is nothing new and doesn’t appear to be stopping any time soon

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Becca March 21, 2016 at 11:11 am

They are bullying you and trying to establish their pecking order. They do this to feel better about themselves and try to put you in line, even though you are doing nothing wrong.

You know that you have done nothing wrong and your response should be a short “Thanks for your opinion, I prefer my hair down.”

If someone asks you to move, tell them that it’s first come, first serve and that’s it. Don’t move, don’t bow down to their pettiness because they’ll keep doing it. Be nice but be firm that you are not going to be pushed around because they have a chip on their shoulders about being old and probably feeling insecure about it. They know that younger people are often the ones who take jobs from them.

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Otter March 21, 2016 at 11:20 am

OP you sound like you’re doing everything right. The reason you get so many suggestions may be that you are a people pleaser to an excessive degree and show that you are willing to accommodate too much. I would NOT have moved my car, especially if I had a lot to carry. It’s just a perk of getting there early, anyone else can do the same. Within office dress code, your hair is no one’s business.

Reminds me of the story of an artist who allowed the public to critique her piece by circling things they didn’t like with black marker. At the end of the day the whole piece was covered by black ink. If you are open to opinion people are going to give it to you in spades. Start standing firm on YOUR opinion.

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Michelle Young March 21, 2016 at 9:14 pm

Was that performance art? Because it certainly sounds like it. It really says a lot about human nature.

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Otter March 21, 2016 at 11:31 pm

Yes, it was performance art and I’ve probably quoted it too many times. It really hits home for me though. Pleasing everyone is impossible. Trying to would cause our talents, personalities and voices to be erased. We have to be true to ourselves, as the saying goes.

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padua March 21, 2016 at 11:25 am

“good advice” starts to snowball if you seem like you continue to be receptive of it. your coworkers will feel as if you need correction since you’re acceptant of correction. it’s time to assert yourself and politely indicate that you have no need of advice.

switching parking spaces simply indicates that you need to be guided by the wisdom of your coworkers. as admin stated, operate with confidence!!!

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Devin March 21, 2016 at 11:26 am

I am one of the younger professionals in my office as well. Most of our staff are therapists, so they are allowed to wear scrubs; but the office staff is asked to dress more business casual. We also have an outdated ventilation system (some of the thermostats for our space are in offices rented by other companies) so you might need a cardigan in the summer and short sleeves in the winter. The company also has logoed polo shirts we can purchase, and are encouraged to do so. I started wearing a company polo with dress slacks and a cardigan as my outfit of choice. Soon after a member of upper management, not anyone in my chain of command, suggested that I needed to dress more professionally because I was younger. I asked HR if there had been changes to the dress code, and referred to the comment that was directed at me. HR was shocked that someone would consider a polo and slacks as not professional enough, as many in upper management wear jeans and polo shirts, including the person who made the original comment. If you are in compliance with company policy on dress/appearance/parking, I would ignore the ‘helpful suggestions’ and polite spine the not so helpful suggestions.

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Margo March 21, 2016 at 11:26 am

Your boss is fine with your appaerance.

In terms of other comments, I think a lot depends on the comment. The person who prefers cetain jewelry – respond as to a compliment if they are saying they like something, if they are negative (e.g. “I much preferred the earrings you wore yesterday” “The necklace you word last week suited you better” ) then a cheerful response such as “Thank you, they are nice, but I really like these one too” or something such as that, can work. You are cheerful and polite, but don’t engage with any suggestion that they get to decide what you wear.

With comments about appearance, I think an awaful lot depends on the office culture and the tone etc. It may be that these are friendly if clumsy overtures, in which case a smile and a friendly response may be the best way. This doesn’t mean you have to agree with them, just that you kep it light (for instance, in response to the comment about how you wear your hair, you might respond “I agree that wearing hair up can look very smart, but I think that a neat bob looks just as professional, and I like to have a bit of variety”

If they are not friendly then I would take a firmer line (e.g. “I’m not sure why you are commenting on my appearance. Can we keep conversations professional, pleae? Did you have a qustion you needed to ask me about my work?” You might also want to speak to your boss and let her know about the comments you are getting.

In relation to the car park, I would not have moved my car. I think if you weren’t sure who he was, or what authority he had, it would have been fine to ask . Maybe “That’s odd. I was told that other than assigned parking for managers, the parking here was unrestricted. Did I miss a memo?” or even “I’m sorry, are you saying that you have a mobility issue and need this space in particular?”

I don’t think you are under any obligation to park further away.

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JD March 21, 2016 at 12:00 pm

OP, if they are commenting on your appearance, they are crossing the workplace line. The response I would (and have) given is: “That’s a personal comment. Do you really think that is appropriate in the workplace?” And when they roll their eyes about “everyone gets offended these days,” I smile back broadly, look steadily at them and say nothing. Let them wonder what hides behind that smile.
As my husband always says, he was raised to treat old people with respect and that “older but wiser” was correct thinking, but he finally realized one day that fools often simply grow up to be old fools, and not everyone who is older is necessarily wiser. If he has to let an old fool know he’s being a fool, he does — politely of course. If he’s treated with disrespect by an older person, he lets the old person know it, again, politely.
An office is supposed to be gender-less and age-less. There is no respecting your elders in offices– there IS respecting your co-workers, and it sounds like yours aren’t treating you with respect. If the situations persist, time to get with management, but try first on your own. As for the parking spot, I would not have moved. No way. I’d have said “I’m sorry, but I have a lot to carry and I need this spot. If someone is disabled, they should certainly use the handicap spots. All others, first come, first served.” And for the record, I’m 60. I lived through some “honey, sweetie, you look hot, can you get us some coffee” years, and it was no fun. I am all about mutual respect in the workplace!

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Cerys March 21, 2016 at 12:12 pm

I’d be tempted to respond as if I thought they were joking, and offer my own suggestions as to how they should change their own look. Maybe then they’d notice how inappropriate they were being.

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Cecelia March 21, 2016 at 12:15 pm

I agree that these coworkers are trying to establish a pecking order. I think your work attire sounds completely appropriate and quite nice.

I have found the following phrases useful when people made comments about my clothing or hair “If you don’t like what I’m wearing, let me know what time and which shop to meet you at so you can buy me what you think I should wear. I prefer upscale boutiques” or “Please make the check out to Jane Smith’s hair salon and I’ll fill in the price after they are done and let you know how much you paid to change my hair to your preferred style”. When people sputter and say they are not paying for new clothes or hairstyles, I say “Then I guess your opinion doesn’t count, since you are not funding the changes you want seen”. Yes, it is a little aggressive but I will bean-dip about twice and if you are so thick you don’t get the hint, then I will smack you with a clue by four. Should anyone be ignorant enough to continue with the clothes/hair comments, then I would speak directly to my manager.

I detest people who are so rude they feel they need to comment on what they would like to see you wear. As long as you are clean, neat and within dress code, they should keep their comments to themselves.

The parking garage guy? I would have told him that he was welcome to give his parking spot to other people, but since it’s first-come, first-serve and I was there first, I would park where I please.

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Cathy March 21, 2016 at 1:57 pm

I’m with those who say you’re doing fine as you are. In your place I’d be doing a lot of bean-dipping or silent stares. Older definitely isn’t wiser in this case! I’ve been in the situation of having female co-workers (some my age, some older) make comments on my appearance – usually negative – which is just not appropriate. It’s that “pecking order” thing that seems to happen in situations where a lot of women work together or hang out together. (Reminds me of that scene in Music Man where the women are singing the gossiping song and it keeps cutting to a shot of chickens pecking at the ground…) You are going to have to ignore them until they get the message. Same with the parking lot guy…a silent stare and go on about your business.

I’d also be tempted to wear that red lipstick you mentioned at work…just to see the reaction. LOL

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Twik March 21, 2016 at 1:57 pm

You are in a professional setting. Workers should be afforded equivalent respect, no matter their ages.

I’m getting up there, but the idea of telling younger workers to “respect me because I’m your elder” has me giggling like a schoolgirl,

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stacey March 21, 2016 at 2:35 pm

A bit off-topic, but I’m surprised to think that so many people apparently feel free to lob ad hoc criticism of otherwise acceptable dress and conduct to co-workers and others who are not their direct subordinates. The reason for an office-wide dress-code or conduct code is supposedly to level the playing field a bit by making these standards both concrete and relatively uniform. When I was a team lead during a large project, the hot topic was how to get needed but personal directives into the hands and heads of some new hires whose dress was inappropriate for any office by almost any measure. No male team lead wanted to take the initiative in discussing hemlines, decolletage and sheer fabrics. If those tasked with oversight are understandably leery of making corrective comments about dress that can be interpreted as somewhat personal, why on earth are random busybodies inviting themselves to do so? I thought this was why H.R. and reasonable policy formulation existed.

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Startruck March 21, 2016 at 3:05 pm

They guy in the parking lot was over stepping , and he knew it too, when he prefaced it with , I’m not trying to be anal . Lol yea he totally was . I would park where I wanted and if he approached me again I would say, I do respect my elders but this parking is first come first serve. Have a good day!! As for the women commenting on your jewelry and hair, I wonder if it’s more of a conversation piece , because your new there. Not saying you aren’t justified with your aggravation though. But if these women are older they may not know how to connect with you On any other personal level . If it makes u upset , just very curtly say ok, now about that meeting? Or whatever work related topic u can switch to so they will take the hint. And they will get the hint. I love admin comment about asking for a gentleman.what a good comeback lol

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psammead March 22, 2016 at 1:57 am

Yes, it ought to be a law. Almost invariably, whenever someone says “I don’t want to blame the victim, but…” or “Not to sound racist, but…” (or in this case “Not trying to be anal, but…”), they are about to say something victim-blaming, racist, or anal.

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Anon March 21, 2016 at 4:02 pm

My reaction would vary depending on who I was talking to.

My last work place, if you did anything to annoy one of the “favorites” or one of the “slightly higher up than you but with no real authority” people, you better believe you would get a talking to about it. If that man and that company was like mine, then OP would have been told that she can’t park in that place anymore because it made people angry.

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PM March 21, 2016 at 4:08 pm

As someone with a “colorful” hairstyle and a large collection of snarky nerd culture t-shirts, I get a LOT of unsolicited advice about my appearance. My hairdresser loves dying my hair blue and green every six weeks because it’s something different to break up her “normal” colorings. But without fail, every six weeks, there’s someone older in the salon who asks me what I’m thinking, dying my hair such an unnatural color. And what am I going to do if my daughter wants to dye her hair a rainbow bright color someday?

I had to learn to stop caring what some random strangers thought, no matter what their age. And while I remain polite, I make it clear that their opinion is not welcome or appreciated. When I’m asked, “What are you going to do if your daughter wants to dye her hair blue or green when she gets older, because she wants to be like you?”

I respond, “Well, if she’s 35 years old, self-employed and a self-supporting, law-abiding tax payer, just like me, I’m going to congratulate myself on raising a responsible citizen and not worry so much about the color of her hair.”

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Cat March 21, 2016 at 8:06 pm

Or, “My dear Madam, I intend to insist upon it. My son already has dibs on red/orange hair when he is thirty-five.”

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SJ March 24, 2016 at 12:43 am

What are you going to do if your daughter wants to color her hair a rainbow color someday? Buy her some Manic Panic.

People are weird.

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Wendy March 21, 2016 at 7:08 pm

I would like some clarification because it possible op is being a bit sensitive (except for the parking space that guy was just being rude). You say one lady said you should wear your hair up all the time and another prefers specific jewellery. There is a world of dig fence between these ladies saying you must do/wear and a comment such as “I loved how you had your hair up yesterday you should do that all the time/more often” “that necklace your wore last week was lovely, it really suited you and would have looked lovely with that dress” these might be poorly worded but they are compliments.

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SJ March 24, 2016 at 12:48 am

I get the feeling that the OP is very polite and she may even be sugarcoating the continuous comments on her appearance.

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Cat March 21, 2016 at 8:05 pm

People who are set on “improving you” are always a bit of a nuisance. At thirty-five you are well into adulthood and cannot be spoken to as if you are a teenager. The reply is, “Thank you for your concern, but I am well versed in both appropriate behavior and dress in a professional setting.”
Anyone who would suggest that you “respect your elders” is out of bounds. “My dear sir, considering my age, those who are my elders are no longer driving.” Park in the spot you desire. If he does not like it, he needs to get there earlier than you do.
In other words, do not allow other people to pull your strings and to try to make you dance to their tune.

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Rebecca March 21, 2016 at 10:52 pm

A blank stare might be appropriate here, especially for the man who commented with his opinion on nail and hair care. Bad enough coming from someone from a woman (ie same sex as you) but from a man to a younger woman, that’s just creepy.

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NostalgicGal March 21, 2016 at 11:07 pm

Parking… sometimes I am doing well and don’t mind and will park in outer boonies and walk. Like at the grocery store. Some days I’m pretty badly messed up and am using a cane, and I will park in the ‘old lady’ row right in front of the grocery store. Some days I carry my own, some days I’m grateful for the bagger’s help at car-side.

If it’s first come first serve parking, you have a right to it too. I would have used the ‘gentleman’ comment someone else mentioned and not moved.

As for comments about your appearance and wardrobe, it sounds like it’s adequate for the office. ‘Thank you for your concern’ or ‘thank you for your input’ or ‘thank you for your suggestion’ then beandip like crazy. If someone really gets on it, comment about you will ask HR to clarify it for you, thank you.

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Auntbee81 March 21, 2016 at 11:15 pm

This comment pertains to parking only. I realize that this is a workplace, and we want to think we work with professional, civil people, this is not always the case.

What would concern me is that “something” might happen to my car. Even a key job can be an expensive repair in a body shop. I agree that OP should not have had to move her car; or explain why she had parked in that spot, in this situation, and I think this was the best course of action. In a parking garage, it may be that there are security cameras that might discourage these things from happening, but they are deterrents rather than guarantees. So, when in a public carpark, if someone approaches and says they are waiting on this space, they have “dibbs” on it, or whatever, I just move. Just better not to engage the crazy.

I am wondering if there is a “loading zone” that you could use when necessary. I still think the man who approached you was rude; but you really never know what people of thinking, or capable of doing. You have my sympathy.

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NostalgicGal March 22, 2016 at 9:58 am

A manufacturing line job I had, near us was a high school and every fall as school started we would get some insane and obscene vandalism of cars during the first week school started; and the company would have to hire a security firm to literally SIT with our cars in the parking lot. They would forget every fall and someone’s car would get it BAD and the security person in uniform and on a folding chair in the parking lot would show up the next day… One year it was a rag top, that the person’s husband had restored, lovely little coupe. The car had the top badly cut to shreds with a fairly large knife by the looks of it, they reached in and gave the upholstery a few, took some canned goods from a bag in the back seat and THREW them through the windshield and busted out the radio-didn’t take it but hammered it, and broke all the gauges. They also slashed all four tires. No motive other than the car was sitting there near the end of the fenced lot. Company paid to fix the car. They did finally find out who did it… but just an example, that parking in the lot may be at your own risk, and indeed, even just a keying would be seriously expensive.

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Huh March 22, 2016 at 8:10 am

I’d love to run into the “save the close spots for your elders” guy today because I could say, “Well, I have RA and today is a bad day and I’m painfully aware of every single joint in my body. Just sitting everything hurts. Now imagine moving!” When did this start for me? Oh, somewhere in my 20s. A good friend of mine lived with chronic pain and there were some days when she could barely walk. And when did that start for her? Also in her 20s. Just looking at us, no one could tell there was anything physically wrong with us.

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Jessica March 25, 2016 at 10:04 am

Exactly, I am 30 next month and was born with a chronic pain condition. I find losing weight a struggle so if I am not too bad I will park a bit further to make myself walk but sometimes the pain is so bad I park close and then have to deal with people accusing me of being lazy. I had a temporary disabled pass (I qualify for permanent but I dont think I need it just yet) when I got extremely sick and you should have seen all hell break loose. They thought I must have borrowed it for the REAL genuinely sick person, I am too young and have working legs therefor I was just fat and lazy apparently. I could not physically park further away so to avoid confrontation I actually just stayed home and became a hermit for 3 months.

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inNM March 22, 2016 at 9:07 am

Perhaps off topic, but some of it may be relevant: http://www.bet.com/news/celebrities/2016/03/21/from-meagan-good-to-erica-campbell–why-christians-must-stop-bul.html
The jist of the article is that Black Christians are allegedly quick to loudly and publicly condemn public Christian women about the clothes they choose to wear if it doesn’t fit the traditional views of modesty. One part of the article stood out to me specifically: at a recent event where Meagan Good and her husband DeVon Franklin were guest panelist during a Q&A, a woman who neither of them know came to the mic to condemn Good’s choice of attire in a recent magazine cover. (For those who are interested, there is a YouTube video link below) She claimed (as I had not seen the cover not make reference to the publication and year and month) that Good had her chest and stomach on display for the world to see. Also, she claimed that she prayed about it and God told her to come to this event to speak to her directly. And then she ended it with: “So we’re going to dress modestly from now on, right?”
I know some of the nuances of language are lost in written text, but that last line was clearly said in the vein of an adult talking to a young child: it seems like a question or a request, but we both know I’m not asking you, I’m telling you. A grown woman is telling another grown woman who she has never met, and will probably never meet again, that she is demanding of her to dress in a way that she (the first woman) deems more appropriate than an arbitrary magazine cover. What’s worse, she fully believed that she had every right to do so!
My issue is not with the religious aspect of it, and I do not wish to debate that. But one can draw similarities between the OP’s office mates “correcting” her clothing choices and this stranger coming to “correct” Good’s clothing choice. Both sets of correctors think they are right and think they have the authority to do so and effect change in those who are being corrected, when in reality, they may not be correct in any regard.
If you are able, I suggest you watch the video, if only for Franklin’s defense of his wife.
https://youtu.be/qulCkccUiC8

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MsDani313 March 23, 2016 at 10:22 am

I too saw that video and commend Franklin for his defense of his wife. That woman, nor do any of OPs coworkers, had no business telling Megan how to dress. She is a woman of God but she is also a grown woman.

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Tara March 22, 2016 at 10:25 am

Just smile and say “Thank you for your input, I’ll keep it in mind.”

And then immediately forget about the unsolicited advice and carry on as normal.

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Tara March 22, 2016 at 10:26 am

Oh shoot, and I forgot to add that in reference to the parking, just get a confused look on your face and say “I’m not parking in a handicapped space…”

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Library Diva March 22, 2016 at 12:17 pm

OP’s situation is difficult because she’s got a lot going on. The new-employee thing, the youngest-person-in-the-office thing, and this weird pecking-order thing. I think that people telling her obvious stuff may just be a function of her being new. But they quickly cross the line from helpful to condescending, and the parking thing just takes the cake.

OP, you shouldn’t have moved for that guy, and you don’t need to park far away in the future. It would be a different story if you had a lot of truly elderly or infirm people working there. Since they sound like they’re just “older than you,” they don’t get to lord it over you like that. Don’t let anyone, especially some random guy who normally doesn’t even work there, push you around in the future.

With the appearance comments, you can pretend that you didn’t hear them and redirect the conversation to something more professional or neutral. “You know, you should always wear your hair up. It looks more professional.” “Hmmm. Is it supposed to rain like this all day, do you know?” The guy blathering on at length about how hair and nails should be done is just bizarre, but since he’s male, you’ve got a great way to underscore the weirdness of this topic by turning it around on him: “I really think that pink is the only appropriate shade of nail polish for the office.” “You should try my manicurist, then — she could make your nails look magnificent.”

I’m sorry you have to deal with such passive-aggressiveness at work. It’s funny how the people who like to lord their age over others are usually the least mature in other ways.

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