Is it rude to speak another language to a colleague in front of customers

January 12, 2020, 9:22 pm

Agree24 Disagree25


The debate "Is it rude to speak another language to a colleague in front of customers" was started by Allirix on January 12, 2020, 9:22 pm. 24 people are on the agree side of this discussion, while 25 people are on the disagree side. That might be enough to see the common perception. It looks like most people are against to this statement.

Allirix posted 3 arguments to the agreers part.
Nemiroff posted 1 argument, RadicalBrain posted 1 argument to the disagreers part.

Allirix, Rosu, m_ahmed, Zucadragon, baywebb43, rainbowsocked and 18 visitors agree.
aspy, Nemiroff, courage, RadicalBrain, StrangeTime, chickenfordiner, guycool, Anonymous42, eli, tyler0300 and 15 visitors disagree.

I don't mind it so much, but only because I'm trilingual and speak other languages all the time in front of people. I think I'm mostly okay with it because I know that when I do it, it's almost never to talk shit about the person in front of me; usually it's just to say something private or that might be awkward for a stranger to hear about.

1 year, 5 months ago
replied to...

I recognise it's my own personal petty thing so Id never even consider confronting them, let alone believing it should be outlawed. I accept they're free to speak another language.

My thoughts are it's just a cost of adopting multiculturalist dogma (I view multiculturalism as a good thing even though this sounds like I don't). The cost is, when you become a culture of accepting all cultures, you will struggle to discern rudeness. You become a soup of many contradictory social norms and the concept of rudeness is watered down to allow for unknown, but expected, differences in social norms that would normally be perceived as rude, but instead you brush off as just a cultural difference.

Since it's almost impossible to learn each social norm, it becomes reflexive to brush off rude behaviour of people from other cultures as just cultural differences.

And that's an overall successful strategy to coexisting. But some behaviour shouldn't be tolerated, and some behaviours shouldn't be allowed to diffuse across the multiple cultures in the multicultural space.

Valuing friendliness to strangers is an Australian value, but not trusting strangers is common in many cultures within this city and it is beginning to become the overall norm here.

Is thinking it's fine to have a conversation in another language in front of a customer while they're ordering a result of a cultural differences? Almost certainly. Is it a behaviour that contradicts the Australian social norm of creating a friendly and welcoming atmosphere for strangers? Yes.

This is only one example I have observed, but it also demonstrates how it's reflexive to brush off rude behaviour of people from other cultures. If two employees were having a private conversation in English while taking someone's order it'd easily be considered rude, but if it's LOTE it's harder to say.

1 year, 5 months ago

Free speech cannot be without free will. We as English speaking people are used to our language being the prominent tongue in which we speak and all too often hear spoken with little or no regard for proper grammar or others that do not speak our language. American tourists travel the globe no effort given (except in rare cases) to actually attempt learning even the most basic phrases thus when someone doesn't use English in front of us we take offense to this. Hypocritical actions like this are all too common you do however have that free will to speak as you do at any given time so what is to say that what we do and what anyone else does is wrong. The right of speech is very hard to turn your ear to in some situations (Neo Nazi rallies, Anti religious and Religious speakers, Political discussion etc.) however if you tell someone to not speak and then turn to speak yourself is that not Hypocrisy by definition. Accept that people are free no matter where they live it is our privalage to be part of a species who can pose questions, asertain answers and reason for ourselves and not on geographic, racial, language and philosophical barriers but on ones character and actions after all. Sticks and stones may break my bones but words only sometimes hurt me.

1 year, 5 months ago
replied to...

It's not being the subject of their discussion that makes their behaviour rude in my view. What makes it rude to me is it creates an atmosphere that does not welcome the customer to conversation, and that's a big part of our Aussie culture. I respect your view is probably different because an atmosphere that welcomes conversation may not be expected where you are, but that's why I asked this here because I'm interested in opinions of people from other countries.

1 year, 5 months ago

people should be shamed for not learning english when coming here, assuming they arent elderly. but people have every right to speak in their home language amongst each other.

rudeness is mostly based of perception. if they are constantly giggling that is unprefessional even in English, and pointing is objectively rude in our society. but being offended cause others are talking another language is a bit paranoid and neurotic. its an assumption that you are the subject of everyone's lives with no actual reason for that assumption besides a lack of understanding. its essentially an argument from ignorance: "i dont know what they are saying so they must be talking about me and not the latest episode of some show".

1 year, 5 months ago

Fair enough. I can see how that would be disconcerting. Frankly, it happens to me all the time in the area i live in so i have just gotten used to it.

But on the other hand, you can't prevent people from speaking the language they are more comfortable in. If they are expecting you to speak that language that would definitely be messed up. If they are switching between talking to you in english and then talking to their co-worker in spanish, I would also consider that a bit rude.

1 year, 5 months ago

There's a Subway store down the road who hires exclusively Spanish speakers and they're always talking Spanish and laughing behind the counter when I'm ordering. It makes me uncomfortable because I don't know what they're saying and I can't participate which makes me believe it's rude to your customers.

This is also not an ethnic enclave and in Australia where Spanish is not a common language so there's a reasonable expectation that customers would not understand.

1 year, 5 months ago

It depends on the context. For example, i live in an area that is quite French but I don't speak any French (Canada). The other day i was in a store and the person at the counter didn't speak great english, she needed to ask a co-worker a question and did it in french. in that scenario it is perfectly fine.

But if they are doing it with the intention to say things without the customer understanding it, that is kind of rude.

1 year, 5 months ago
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