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  • May 25, 2016, 10:23:51 AM

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Author Topic: Conversing with workmen who have a heavy accent  (Read 394 times)

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sandisadie

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Conversing with workmen who have a heavy accent
« on: Yesterday at 10:47:58 AM »
This has come up at my home today.  I've encountered the same thing before though and wonder if I am handling things correctly and respectively.  Two Spanish speaking workers are installing a tile floor in my kitchen.  The one in charge has a very heavy accent and I am having trouble understanding some things he says.  The helper apparently hardly speaks or understands English at all.

When they arrived I had some questions.  I do know quite a bit about tile work, having done a lot of it myself.  I tried to speak plainly when asking my questions.  Sometimes the fellow understood and sometimes he didn't.  At one point he motioned for me to wait and said he was calling his boss.  That was ok with me.  He spoke in Spanish to the boss and then I got on and explained what I wanted to know.  The boss also had a Spanish accent but I was able to understand him perfectly.  Everything was resolved to my satisfaction.  I thanked the worker for making the phone call and we discussed a couple of other things and then they started work.

But, how do you handle a situation where you don't know much, or anything, about the project but have trouble communicating?  In a situation like that I usually feel uncomfortable but still want my questions and concerns answered.  I usually will say "I don't understand what you are saying".

flyersandunicorns

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Re: Conversing with workmen who have a heavy accent
« Reply #1 on: Yesterday at 01:09:43 PM »
I work in an industry that has about half Spanish speaking and half English speaking crew members, including a foreman that is ESL. Even though he has great English but especially when flustered or on an off day, his accent can be difficult for my strictly English speaking ears.

I've learned that as long as you speak kindly to anyone, they typically don't mind repeating themselves. I have to slow down at times too and remember things can gets lost in translation as well. As long as you aren't getting frustrated with them, most people want to work with you to communicate effectively.

It's also important to never speak to someone like you think they're stupid for not understanding you (general you). I have some people who roll up in here and act all high and mighty over the fact that they should just understand and speak perfect English. I just side eye them and say "well they know two languages, how many do you know again?" but I'm "not a people person" per my boss  >:D

pattycake

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Re: Conversing with workmen who have a heavy accent
« Reply #2 on: Yesterday at 01:49:58 PM »
I work in an industry that has about half Spanish speaking and half English speaking crew members, including a foreman that is ESL. Even though he has great English but especially when flustered or on an off day, his accent can be difficult for my strictly English speaking ears.

I've learned that as long as you speak kindly to anyone, they typically don't mind repeating themselves. I have to slow down at times too and remember things can gets lost in translation as well. As long as you aren't getting frustrated with them, most people want to work with you to communicate effectively.

It's also important to never speak to someone like you think they're stupid for not understanding you (general you). I have some people who roll up in here and act all high and mighty over the fact that they should just understand and speak perfect English. I just side eye them and say "well they know two languages, how many do you know again?" but I'm "not a people person" per my boss  >:D

^^What she said! It sounds like you handled it perfectly though.

flyersandunicorns

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Re: Conversing with workmen who have a heavy accent
« Reply #3 on: Yesterday at 04:12:48 PM »
Reminds me that the receptionist at my foreman's doctors office refused to try to understand him the other day. He was speaking clearly and she was all "YOU NEED A TRANSLATOR, IM SENDING YOU TO THE TRANSLATOR" (in caps because she really did snap and raise her voice at him).

A couple days later he called back for a follow up and the same receptionist understood every word he said  ::)

He was like "I guess she figured out how to understand me after all!", I figure that she must have been in a foul mood that day.

doodlemor

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Re: Conversing with workmen who have a heavy accent
« Reply #4 on: Yesterday at 10:33:58 PM »
Have you ever thought about using google translate, or one of the other computer translators for your questions.  You could type your concerns up, and direct them to the computer to read them.  I don't think that they'd be offended if you smiled and started with "Mi espaņol es terrible."

You are probably not the first person that they have had problems understanding.  It might break the ice if they feel that you are trying to meet them part way.  You could try to pronounce the Spanish sentences, and let them correct you.