Many years ago I had to train 4 ladies in a new accounting department. We all worked for a new business located in the Triad area of North Carolina.
We had just setup Great Plains Dynamics and the ladies were responsible for all of the AR, AP, PR and GL work for this small business.
The ladies were nice and fun to work with. They did their job well and learned quickly. This made for a really good working relationship and I soon let myself get pulled into the many conversations that went on in the accounting office.
One day three of the ladies were talking about the age of people in business. They began stating their own ages to each other.
This is when I got myself in trouble.
One of the ladies in the room asked me, “Teddy, how old do you think Greta is?”
Picture this as you imagine why I made the guess I made.
Greta came to work every day wearing business professional clothing, even suits. I don’t think I ever saw her in blue jeans or t-shirts.
Greta alway wore makeup and her hair was always “done up”. (what ever that means)
So, in my infinite wisdom I decided to reply, “There is no way Greta is 35 yet.”
Wow, you would have thought I shot her.
Greta ran out of the room crying. She ran straight over to the HR manager, slammed the door shut and commenced to bawl her eyes out. I could hear the HR manager asking her, “What’s wrong? Who did this to you?”
I turned to the other ladies in the room who all looked stunned at what had just happened. I asked, “What did I say wrong?”
One of the ladies answered the question with just four words, “She’s only 18 Teddy.”
OUCH – I guess she thought “not yet 35” is really old.
I got counseled by the HR department to be careful what I say to the employees. I promised not to guess employee ages ever again.
Greta eventually forgave me for insulting her. I wanted to tell her she looked really good for 18, but fortunately a better wave of wisdom convinced me not to do that.
And, most importantly, I learned a really important lesson. Regardless of any situation, never, I repeat, NEVER guess a woman’s age. It’s best to just say, “I have no idea.” And, don’t ask them to tell you either. Neither actions are wise to do.