I live in Miami, lately i have been getting irked by my fellow colleagues. At work we speak English, Spanish, and Creole. ( with Everyone being fully literate in English; Graduating from an English High School). At time we will be having an English Conversation with American, Latin, and Haitian colleagues, then all a sudden my Haitian Colleagues will add a comment in English then Laugh by themselves (while still participating in a group English Conversation) I speak Creole so i do understand but the others don't. At times they will hold not so nice conversations with themselves in Creole regarding the other co-workers or patrons, or saying things. Though I being Haitian and understanding our culture am not offended, but if the others were to understand it will create problems. We have had patrons who have understood them and complained at times making treats to the Center Mangers regarding these behaviors, Alas nothing have been done and they always denied it and since the Center Manager don't understand it becomes a "He said- she said" situation. I am uncomfortable with this and feel trap. How do i react in those situations? I don't want to be the one to add fuel to any fire. While the English Speakers have commented about not feeling easy with it, but they haven't complained yet to the Center Manager (maybe they don't want to be accused of discrimination) my position is entry-level Manager i don't make the decisions regarding the Employees i only train.

Please help.

  • Does this workplace have a rule about what languages can be used? I used to work in a location where staff were only allowed to speak English, except at the request of a client. – rhialto Dec 17 '19 at 19:39
  • Hi Jolene, welcome to IPS! Unfortunately, the question of whether or not something is rude is a bit too opinion based for this site, so your question will likely be closed. You can always visit the help center to see what kinds of questions are better fits here if you have any other interpersonal problems that you need help solving. – Rainbacon Dec 17 '19 at 20:02
  • Since your request is very unspecific. Not sure, but this might be related: interpersonal.stackexchange.com/q/20579/32 – dhein Dec 18 '19 at 6:53

If you switch from a language everyone in the group speaks to a language not everyone in the group speaks, often this can be seen as rude. If it happens often, I can see those who don't speak the language being upset. Particularly if these other-language bits are followed by laughter, someone who doesn't understand may perceive that they are the butt of the joke.

In my workplace, most people speak Spanish and/or English to some degree (from fluent English and no Spanish to the inverse of this to various points inbetween). I will sometimes be following a Spanish conversation, but because my Spanish is only passable & not perfect, I sometimes respond in English. If what I said was funny, someone better at Spanish often translates for those who didn't understand my English.

In healthcare settings where I have worked, there have been rules banning speaking any language patients do not speak in front of them, lest patients feel they are being spoken about unkindly. I don't know that one need go that far all the time, but it might be a good rule of thumb if one can avoid it.

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