Your mention of generational difference struck a chord with me. As someone born and bred in the North of England, I acquired the expected traits of a dour outlook, blunt, laconic speech and dark humour. Add to that a naturally quick wit and an inability to suffer fools gladly, and I don’t come across as conventionally likeable. But when I moved to the Midlands in the late 1970s, things were fine. People heard my accent (which I still have), and took everything that went with it in stride; “He’s from Yorkshire, they’re all like that. There’s no harm in him.”
However, the current generation of sub-30s are so thin-skinned it’s unbelievable! Now I’m labelled rude and unkind because I don’t soften my voice and go all around the houses to avoid saying what I actually mean (‘You got that wrong’ instead of ‘I think you might have found that task a bit challenging’). I’m accused of being disrespectful by kids who are fresh out of University and still wet behind the ears (newsflash: respect isn’t something you’re entitled to, you have to earn it). They whinge to my boss -behind my back, be it noted — and my boss talks to me about my ‘attitude’.
So they don’t like this grumpy old curmudgeon? Fine. I don’t like the spineless, whiny little brats either. But when your manager -who should know better — wants you to change who you are because a bunch of coddled children can’t take a straight-talking grown-up…! In the words of that other famous curmudgeon, Mr Scrooge, “I’ll retire to Bedlam!”