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Is It Rude to Speak a Foreign Language in the Workplace?

October 19, 2022by Barbara Flynn0

Living in South Florida, we see people from all nationalities working and living together.  There are many languages spoken.  We get to experience different foods, traditions and languages.  What an opportunity for all of us to be a part of the diverse area we live in.  With this diversity does come some drawbacks.  I can remember a day when I got lost in Miami and couldn’t find anyone to give me directions to get back on my path.  I also remember a day when I purchased a mini recorder for a class I was taking and when I got home the instructions were in Spanish.  (I purchased the recorder at Sawgrass Mall).

What we do on our own time is not the issue.  However, while at work, we need to respect one another and more importantly we need to communicate with one another so that we can understand what’s going on.  We need to speak with our customers who may only understand English; in the case of an emergency, we need to make sure everyone understands what is happening; when working as a team, we need to communicate with each other; if our supervisor, does not speak our language, they cannot understand us.

By everyone speaking the same language you are respecting your co-workers and building a team atmosphere. Outside the workplace, if you engage in personal activities together, you may speak whatever we want. But to promote a fun and engaging environment, it is best for everyone to speak English.

While there may not be a company policy about speaking English only, please think about the affect you might have on a co-worker, supervisor, vendor and/or customer when you speak a language they do not understand.  How would you feel if the roles were reversed?  Is it rude?  I think so.  Let’s be considerate of others.

Barbara Flynn

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