Steel Advice: Open dialogue best for parent, child

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DEAR STEEL ADVICE: How do you convince young people today to take their parent's advice?


DEAR FRUSTRATED: Be a sounding board. Listen but never reply as a directive. Encourage open dialogue between the generations and try not to offer advice unless specifically asked. The young person needs freedom to learn to nurture his/her own independent thinking and to evaluate options critically. Parents should not transfer their own life's regrets to the young person's present-day decisions. Parents need to understand even with the best advice, the next generation is entitled to make its own decisions and build separate lives. Change encourages growth. Wisdom is conveyed through example.

DEAR STEEL ADVICE: I work in a large office with poor acoustics. My desk is in a partial cubicle and sound really travels from one work station to the next. The complexities of our work can be frustrating and several of the workers voice their problems to each other in conversations sprinkled with vulgar language. All of this unprofessional language is easily overheard. Several colleagues raise eyebrows or shake their heads, but then continue with their work and ignore the overheard profane conversations. Am I being too sensitive if I complain to management and make an issue?

DEAR WORKER: Your expectation of a professional work atmosphere is legitimate. Realistically, however, you should focus on your own job and tune out the profanity. The overheard cussing suggests the offenders are desensitized and conditioned to gross language when they converse with each other. Your office culture may be more tolerant of vulgarities than you suspect. The dynamics of a large work place are complex and can be difficult to navigate. If this unprofessional language does not directly involve you do not complain to management. You may want to consider wearing an earphone head set to block the distractions.

Need some Steel Advice? Email questions to: or write to Mary Ann Wellener, Steel Advice Column, c/o Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. Follow Mary Ann on Twitter at @PGSteelAdvice.

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