Advertisement
If you have a new account but are having problems posting or verifying your account, please email us on [email protected] for help. Thanks :)
Hello all! Please ensure that you are posting a new thread or question in the appropriate forum. The Feedback forum is overwhelmed with questions that are having to be moved elsewhere. If you need help to verify your account contact [email protected]

Foreign colleague in work speaks way too quickly, difficult to understand. Mention it to him?

  • 29-10-2022 8:27am
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 1,494 ✭✭✭JackieChang


    I believe this would be for his own good, but I don't want to come across as rude or racist.

    I would like to let him know that it's quite difficult to understand him as he speaks so quickly and with an extremely strong foreign accent.

    The accent is actually fine, and his English is very good. It's just the speed at which he speaks. It's like I'm 2 seconds behind whatever he's saying as my brain deciphers it. I have other colleagues from his country with a strong accent and have no communication issues with them as they speak at a regular pace. I know I sound like an arsehole but it's a bit of a chore being on a call with him trying to understand what he's saying.

    We work with many external clients and I would be surprised if they understood everything he said, especially since the majority of our work is now done on Zoom. It can be hard to communicate sometimes even with Irish folks due to shytty connections and microphone / speaker quality, acoustics of the room. Some people sound like they're on a Zoom call from the toilet on a 2G phone connection. Now add a strong and extremely rapid-fire foreign accent to the mix.

    As I said, his English is very good. I believe that if he slowed down it would open up more doors for him and improve communication on whatever project he's working on, and even improve internal communication with fellow colleagues.

    How can I approach him in a non-arsehole way and tell him to slow down a bit?



«1

Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,494 ✭✭✭JackieChang




  • Registered Users Posts: 103 ✭✭ Cup


    Just say it to him. “Your English is great, but could you slow down a bit when you’re talking?” It might take a while to sink in, but it will help everybody, yourself and himself included.

    We use two languages in work, and one guy speaks at machine gun speed in the second language. I often have to ask him to slow down, although a look is enough now. We laugh about it tbh.



  • Registered Users Posts: 2,755 ✭✭✭xhomelezz


    I usually say...Could you slow down a bit please, it's hard to understand what you say for me.

    As a foreigner I say that to Irish and never had a problem. People are overthinking lot of things lately.

    Edit: Same if Irish don't understand what I said and ask me to repeat, or explain. No problemo on my side.

    It's all about communication.

    Post edited by xhomelezz on


  • Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators Posts: 9,280 Mod ✭✭✭✭Jim2007


    You say that you'd be surprised if external clients understand all he says, but have you actually observed others having difficulty understand him? How often do clients indicate they can't understand, how about other work colleagues and so on?

    Most people will modify their approach if they have clear indication of an issue when speaking a language. If this has not happened, then you need to be sure there is a general problem of one specific to you.



  • Advertisement
  • Registered Users Posts: 17,130 ✭✭✭✭Donald Trump


    Reminds me of those Little Britain "Marjorie" sketches. Won't post a link here as it might not be allowed.


    The best solution would be to tell your manager if you have one and let them deal with it





  • ive come across this, luckily i was the manager at the time so it was no big deal for me to say it very informally


    you should do the same, raise it very informally- but with this person's manager



  • Registered Users Posts: 9,451 ✭✭✭Jim_Hodge


    I've had to say 'Can you slow down a bit to many people. It's no big deal. Tone of voice is important. Some guys even laugh about it and will admit they know they talk too quickly.

    How are simple things like this issues for some people?.



  • Advertisement
  • Registered Users Posts: 17,251 ✭✭✭✭bucketybuck


    Why do you need to actively tell him that he speaks too fast, when you can passively just say "I didn't catch that" or "Can you repeat that".

    Simple learned behaviour, if he has to keep repeating himself then he will adapt his speech, just like millions of people have done before him.





  • why would anyone else get involved with a direct discussion with the guy in question other than the manager they report to?


    its a manager issue, if you think otherwise then imo you're introducing far more awkwardness than is required, because if it goes awry then nobody but the manager had any business speaking to them about it- and it has the potential to be a tricky topic



  • Registered Users Posts: 2,755 ✭✭✭xhomelezz


    That's exactly what it is. I'm pretty sure I've made few grammatical errors in my posts here. And I would take no offense, if someone will try to point them out. Pretty sure it's common thing. As is the speed of talking.

    And I'm pretty sure everyone understands what I said 😁

    Post edited by xhomelezz on


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,755 ✭✭✭xhomelezz


    This is the time I have to ask, to repeat slowly, cuz I have no idea what you are talking about.

    Op asked something. Simple solution would be to talk to his colleague. Done. Imo



  • Registered Users Posts: 3,866 ✭✭✭Bredabe


    I am that person, variable accent, nervous speaker and strange use of words. Ppl who say "I'm just saying this for your own good", usually not doing it solely for my good. Backed up by the fact most ppl adjust to me or them once there is constant contact.

    Those ppl I email or text to avoid the crushing embarrassment or irritation of having to listen to them asking me to repeat myself.



  • Registered Users Posts: 4,995 ✭✭✭SuperBowserWorld


    We have people from all over the place in different timezones, different levels of English on calls. So, people have to communicate clearly (including the Irish here). Its no big deal to ask someone to slow down and repeat what was said.

    Otherwise it'll cost the business $$$



  • Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators Posts: 9,280 Mod ✭✭✭✭Jim2007


    The person is client facing and I expect that if it was a serious issue the manager would have addressed it. In addition to which, most people will modify their behaviour when they realise people are having difficulty understanding them.

    That is why I suggested to the OP, that he make sure it is a general problem and not just him, otherwise he will look a right prat if he makes waves about a non existent general problem.



  • Registered Users Posts: 1,494 ✭✭✭JackieChang


    He's new in the job, not enough time for issues with clients to pop up. I think everybody is probably being too nice, and perhaps don't want to seem racist.

    When I moved to a foreign country that also spoke English, I toned down my bogger accent to make sure I was understood correctly. People commented that somehow they could understand me and not other Irish people.





  • Just ask "I'm sorry, would you mind speaking a little more slowly please? Thanks!" and deliver the request with a smile. ☺️

    That usually works!



  • Registered Users Posts: 22,755 ✭✭✭✭One eyed Jack



    He’s new in the job, not enough time for issues with clients to pop up, and you think everybody else is probably being too nice and doesn’t want to seem racist… Yet the same time you post this in your opening post?

    We work with many external clients and I would be surprised if they understood everything he said, especially since the majority of our work is now done on Zoom. It can be hard to communicate sometimes even with Irish folks due to shytty connections and microphone / speaker quality, acoustics of the room. Some people sound like they're on a Zoom call from the toilet on a 2G phone connection. Now add a strong and extremely rapid-fire foreign accent to the mix. 

    As I said, his English is very good. I believe that if he slowed down it would open up more doors for him and improve communication on whatever project he's working on, and even improve internal communication with fellow colleagues.

    The lads only just in the door, and already you’re going on about him being too hard to understand and how do you get him to slow down and it would open doors for him and improve communication on projects and with fellow colleagues? Can you not just admit that it’s a you problem without trying to make out anyone else has the same problem only they’re probably too nice to say it, or that other people will have a problem when he’s only just in the door and you’re making out it’s for his own good that you need him to speak more slowly?

    Can you not just give yourself a chance to get used to the way he speaks, because eventually you’ll pick it up and you’ll get better at it. You’re two seconds behind now, but eventually as you recognise speech patterns, you’ll get what he’s saying. I have a fairly thick bogger accent and I’m on calls all day and speaking with people whose way of speaking I struggle with sometimes to understand them, some people have speech impediments and that just adds another layer of complexity, but I’ve gotten used to it, and once I’m used to it, it’s not an issue. You’re way, way overthinking the whole difficulty with communication thing as though it’s anyone else’s problem but yours.

    I’ve often had to say “can’t understand a word you’re saying mate!”, to people, but I get that’s a me problem, it’s not their issue, and it’s not something they need to address.



  • Advertisement
  • Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators Posts: 9,280 Mod ✭✭✭✭Jim2007


    Well then keep your head down and let management deal with it.



  • Registered Users Posts: 1,264 ✭✭✭Count Dracula


    There is nothing racist about discussing communication techniques with a colleague.

    Op.....why do you keep referring to racism?





  • Just tell him you've taken up lip-reading as a hobby and you like to practice at it in work, so could he maybe slow down a bit?

    (You'd probably want to at least know a tiny bit about lip-reading, though.)



  • Registered Users Posts: 1,494 ✭✭✭JackieChang




  • Registered Users Posts: 9,451 ✭✭✭Jim_Hodge




  • Registered Users Posts: 1,264 ✭✭✭Count Dracula


    Is he sensitive to antagonism.



  • Registered Users Posts: 2,755 ✭✭✭xhomelezz


    Maybe link him to this thread, so he can read your concerns. Seriously don't know where you heading with this.



  • Registered Users Posts: 1,264 ✭✭✭Count Dracula


    Sounds shady.

    Non white, like christ on a bike?



  • Posts: 2,078 ✭✭✭ Dean Alive Earache


    Are they Spanish? I had the same on a flight recently where the flight attendant read out announcements at 100 miles an hour and nobody had a clue what he was saying.

    People from West Cork and Kerry have the same problem.



  • Advertisement
  • Posts: 2,078 ✭✭✭ Dean Alive Earache


    I disagree strongly that if you struggle to understand someone speaking really fast it's your problem. It's their problem - if you struggle so will others including clients etc. If you've got a weird accent or speak like you have a mouth full of popcorn you need to work on this, not expect others to compensate.



Advertisement