Challenging the Age Thing!

Written by Bob Howard-Spink

I have a new hero. Stepping up to the plate – or maybe that should be the to the pole – is ex-strip club waitress Mary Bassi aged 60

Mary’s fully deserved hero status is earned after winning an age discrimination claim against her former employers – and getting herself $60,000 worth of compensation. It seems that Mary had to put up with more than enough from her 30 year old boss!  Aegist remarks that were just plain offensive. Hiring in younger girls for her shift. These were typical of the ways he behaved in the year which culminated in Mary’s dismissal in 2006 “without provocation or explanation!” 

Enduring all that nonsense is another reason Mary is a superhero!

Her attorney spoke after the case about the common problem of age discrimination in the world of pole dancers and strippers – arguing that employees shouldn’t be “run out of any industry as they get older.”

And of course we have to say yes to that. There should be legislation to protect people against age discrimination.

But at the same time I think we have to recognise that age discrimination cannot be eliminated by legislation. More than that. I think we have to accept that in some occupations or industries – age will have an influence on effectiveness. 
Not so long ago I ran the business development team for the creative events agency Outlook that I’m associated with. The industry is a young one. The client-side decision makers and influencers for new business are generally young people.  Outlook has a creative team of young people. And in the often demanding relationship of client and creative producer – harmony and rapport is essential. 
I knew that my craggy good looks were not the correct ”first impression”  indicator of that desired ongoing relationship – so I would always ask Rachel or Keely to “lead” the initial visits.I say this as somebody who places a lot of importance on first impressions.
We know that people are subconsciously and unknowingly influenced by what they see and hear.  And the natural process of thought is for it to connect with pre-conceived belief – “A.K.A.”  prejudice and stereo-typing. That’s why I was very interested to hear about some new research carried out at the University of Western Ontario involving Psychologists from Canada, Belgium and the United States.
In a series of controlled exercises they compared positive and negative attitudes towards individuals on initial and subsequent encounters. Putting their conclusions in simple terms. If you didn’t like me when we first met, but on a second encounter you did like me  – then it would only be in that same context or circumstance that you would like me again.

In other words first impressions prevail

So as “mature candidates” I guess we have to be mature about these realities. Accept that first impressions will work against us if we allow them to – and be prepared to do something about it.  So how about giving yourself a first- impressions make-over before your next interview?
Check the clothes – are you still wearing that double breasted suit and the wide tie? Change that look!
Check your grooming – wispy hair – and much worse wispy hair around the ears and nose? Not good!
Spectacles – these days modern styled specs are fashion accessories – but don’t perch them on the end of your nose.
Weight – yes it’s not easy but a paunchy midrift and a jolly round face can take the “edge” off you.
Posture – possibly the most important visual signal of all and it’s just the basics: upright stance, shoulders back, head up. Check out what The Economist had to say recently on “The Power of Posture!”  
Body language – once again it’s the simple things which offer the safe bets: brisk walk, decisive gestures, getting in and out of the chair without a grimace and a grunt!! A pleasant smile and good eye contact – which means being responsive to theirs and not a scary stare!
Voice –  are you a mumbler or a gabbler? Be honest we go one way or the other. My tip here is work on your enunciation – it will give you clarity and naturally lead to a good conversational pace. And of course sound enthusiastic when you talk
The success of non-verbal communication comes from its sub-conscious influence. It’s unknowing effect. All the things we talk about above have to be done naturally. Overdone and obvious – and they won’t work.  
So let’s get practising for that next interview.  Meanwhile I’m going to check out when they’re next auditioning for The Chippendales!
Bob Howard-Spink is a supplier of positive attitudes. He runs OnWeGo; a website for people who think they've done as much as they ever will in life and work. Bob supplies inspiration and ideas on work, health and play. He is an advocate for making the rest of your life, the best of your life!
Another article you might enjoy related to looking your interview best
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