Respecting Age

Susan Osman, associate of The English Manner. Picture: SWNS.

Susan Osman, associate of The English Manner. Picture: SWNS.

Associate of The English Manner, Susan Osman, made the news last week (click here for full article) for commenting on how the Chinese revere age and experience when it comes to the professional world. Susan has been offered a high-profile job with China Radio International’s English service. Having previously worked for, amongst other organisations, the BBC, Susan felt that youth was not seen as vital in Chinese broadcasting, unlike in Britain.

This made me think that sometimes we as a nation are too quick to judge someone over their age. Does it really matter what age someone is when it comes to doing a job? Granted that there are some jobs that do require a certain youthfulness, and for each of those, there will be a similar number of jobs really only suited for older people.

I have encountered people mis-judging me due to my age. I was in a taxi yesterday and the driver asked me how old I was. I replied (20) and he looked very confused. Admittedly, I do look quite young (although older than 20) but sound like a 55-year-old. But I often get asked how I can be an etiquette consultant at my age. To be fair, it’s a valid question. The stereotype of etiquette experts is that of a woman in her early sixties with half-moon glasses and a brooch. I’ve had some fairly harsh comments in the past; although I have a thick skin so can rise about these easily.

There is no pre-requisite that to be an etiquette tutor one has to be over fifty. It is perhaps true that someone of more advanced years will have experienced life more, but as for knowing the rules, nuances and protocols, anyone with enough determination, vigour and vim can pick these up fairly straightforwardly. And being young also gives one the advantage of being able to talk coherently about other aspects of life that older colleagues may not be able to cover.

So which can see that ageism can work both ways. We should not judge someone just based on how old they are. This is wrong. What matters is one’s understanding, determination and ability.

William Hanson
Tutor, The English Manner

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2 Responses to “Respecting Age”


  1. 1 dressingmyself 14 December 2009 at 11:17 am

    I have always looked younger than my age. Most of the time, I consider myself lucky. However, there have been times when it has been a problem.
    When I was 27, I got a job as a housing finance adviser. Many clients asked to speak to somebody older, so that my employer transferred me to other work. The other work was boring, so I eventually moved to another job.

  2. 2 Jay Remer 16 December 2009 at 3:23 am

    With age comes experience if one has been sincerely engaged in art of living consciously. Some of us have natural abilities and are lucky enough to be able to employ them at an early age, like you, William. Others develop these interests over the years and like fine wine, improve with age, like me (hopefully). I still delight in being asked how old I am, but for different reasons than when I was young. In general showing deference to one’s elders rarely does one any harm. Chivalry rocks!


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