DEAR HARRIETTE: The company that I work for has just implemented new computer applications that are advanced and difficult to figure out.
The young people at my job grew up using these applications, so they are not having a hard time with these changes at all. The older people, such as myself, are struggling.
It would take me months to get used to all of the different technologies they are now requiring us to use.
None of these things was on my job description. Could this be a form of ageism within the company?
DEAR AGE DISCRIMINATION: Using new technology does not equal ageism. Failing to support employees who need help getting up to speed could be.
Rather than accusing your company of anything, ask for assistance. Be proactive. Explain that you are having difficulty learning the new applications and need support. Ask for tutorials or live help from the IT department.
If there seems to be little interest in helping you, speak to the other employees who are struggling, and ask together. There is power in numbers.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I’m a Black woman in my early 20s. One of my best friends is a White woman from the suburbs.
We’ve been close since middle school. She and I get along so well because, even though our backgrounds are completely different, she has always had a strong will to educate herself on other cultures, especially mine. She’s incredibly woke.
I’m not big on mixing friend groups, but I was excited to introduce my best friend to the new friends I met in college (all Black women) when they came to visit my hometown a little while ago.
For whatever reason, my best friend started acting completely different around them. You would have thought that she had never been around Black people before that day. She seemed not only uncomfortable, but shell-shocked. She asked one of my friends a question about her hair that sounded completely ignorant, and my friend is far from ignorant.
Thankfully, she didn’t offend anyone. I’ve never seen her act like this around my family or anything. What could this have been about?
DEAR ACTING DIFFERENT: Clearly, your friend was out of her comfort zone. Being one-on-one with you has been easy for her; not so much when she was with a group of your friends. I’m glad nothing terrible happened.
Now is your time to go back and debrief with her. Ask her how she felt about meeting your friends. Start with the positives. What did she like? Who did she like? What does she recall that was positive? Then, what felt awkward or uncomfortable? Did she ever feel that she misspoke?
After she shares her views, tell her what you observed. Be specific and factual but not judgmental. Show her with examples how she was not “woke,” and explain the parts she seemed unaware of. Ask her what happened. Help her to unpack her experience.
Yes, that’s a lot of work for you, but you brought your friends together. Now you need to help her figure out her way forward, which includes why she felt so out of sorts in the first place.
Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to [email protected] or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.