Respect in the workplace: Does age blur the lines?

Respect in the workplace: Does age blur the lines?

There's a level of respect that we need to have for our elders, but when it comes to the workplace, should things be different?

Elderly woman reading newspaper / Pexels
Elderly woman reading newspaper / Pexels

A friend of mine, who is an MD at a conglomerate, shared a story with me about an issue that he's having with a few of his colleagues. 

There's an older woman who is part of his cleaning staff, whom many affectionately refer to as 'Ma'. While he doesn't have an issue with his staff calling her that, it seems as if it's expected that he do the same. 

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I chatted to him and he added that he does not want to get the lines blurred between 'boss' and being 'too friendly'. 

"If I start calling her Ma, I am afraid that it will create a sense of false trust. After all, I am her boss, and she gets paid for working at the office. I also do not want to create a situation where I am taken advantage of," he said. 

While in his case I understand that work is work, for me, culturally, I cannot call someone who is older than me by their first name without a respectful title added to it. I even feel bad allowing an older person to wash my dishes - I think it's just a respect thing. 

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When prepping for this particular content piece, I was reminded of a video showing the late great Maya Angelou schooling a young girl who tried to call her by her first name. 

Let's just say things got awkward real quick. Yikes! 

Watch below:

What do you think? Should you call older people in the workplace by respectful titles such as 'Ma', 'Aunty', or 'Baba' - or should these titles stay at the door? 

Main image courtesy of Pexels

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