When our landlady comes into our place she always brings a relative. She visits with repair people, or most often it's a family member doing repairs. When they talk to us, they use fluent English. When they talk to each other, they use their native tongue, which they know we don't understand. I feel this is disrespectful, rude and shady.

How can I politely say to them that if they don't want me to know what they are saying, or they don't want me to be part of the full conversation, then they can leave my home to have their conversation?

Being cut in and out of a conversation that is related to me and my home gets aggravating quickly. It feels like they are hiding things. If we could move we would. We are already in the courts with them - one case settled in our favour and 3 pending. Based on previous behavior I just don't trust them. I don't want them to claim racism, which is why I've kept my mouth shut. I just find this behavior so rude because we do share a fluent language. I live in Canada.


1 Answer 1


You can - respectfully - ask. It's that simple. "Please, it's difficult for me to follow conversations that switch languages frequently. Would you mind keeping conversations in English around me?" There's a decent chance the answer will be "sure, sorry to confuse."

Of course, the next question is "how do I get them to follow my wishes?" To which the answer is "You can't. Not if they don't want to." In other words, if you ask, and the answer is "We're sorry, but we're just more comfortable in Spanish. It's difficult for us to get the nuances we need in English, although we try for your benefit when talking to you", or even just "No, sorry." then you have to live with it (for as long as you're living there I guess).

They're not a guest in your home, they're your landlady and co-worker. They're there on business. they have a right, and if repair work has to be investigated and supervised a duty, to be there, to get the job done as quickly and correctly as possible.

They aren't deliberately keeping you out of "the full conversation". There's a conversation between her/them and you, and one between them, and each are happening in a similar space in the same visit. They likely overlap. It's not disrespectful that you don't understand a conversation that doesn't contain you as a participant, no matter how involved you are in the matter being conversed about.

Yes, it can appear that they're trying to hide something from you - and they might be. You say that this relationship is now with the courts; it won't be friendly anyway, and they probably are quite happy you don't understand what they're saying. And sure, they could go outside and speak in their own language, but how is that any different from what happens now? You're still excluded from the conversation, and they waste time going out and back in again all the time.

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