Are They Talking About Me?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about feeling excluded because of the boss and a coworker speaking in a different language

My boss constantly speaks Punjab to one of the employees in front of me when she and the employee speak fluent English. Is this allowed in the work place. I feel like I am constantly being talked about due to the fact they only do it around me.

Signed Feeling Excluded

Dear Feeling Excluded: There are few things more aggravating than not knowing the language of others who are talking in your presence. Is it allowed? I know of no law against that. Do you want your boss to not speak in Punjab to this particular employee? I’m sure you have you considered how speaking to an employee in his/her native language is uniquely appreciated and probably more efficient?

Is it a good practice to speak only Punjab when also you are present? To do that is inconsiderate of you without interpretation. In your case, you have not said what you do when you’re your boss speaks Punjab in front of you. I assume your native language is English. Do you ask for a summary in English? Can you do that? That would not be a waste of time. Paraphrasing in what was said in Punjab would be a value- added practice.

Paraphrasing and repetition help prevent the high probability that misunderstanding is the rule. Rather than allow annoyance with your boss escalate, might it be wise to have a few words with her about how you feel left out? I often suggest talk about talk is important to making the boss-bossed relationship work well. Moreover, talk about talk might be a valuable topic for the agenda of your work group huddles. Work groups can become work teams if they, like sports teams have skull sessions before and after games, in which they applaud what went well and work on what needs to be corrected. Such sessions in work groups are frequent and most effective when all present collaborate in spelling out do and don’t rules about how boss and bossed and coworkers can best communicate.

Your question demonstrates that you realize how important it is that communication be clear in your work group. Your question has opened a conversation about making it OK to talk about talk. Does this make sense? If in a few days you will tell us what you now do and if it works or falls short, I will add that to this Q&A post. A follow-up from you is what can make our site especially valuable to others. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. P.S. I predict that your coworker would respond positively if you made an effort to learn a few words in Punjab.

William Gorden