Mother tongue in the Workplace

For those who shop in open air markets, you have probably found yourself asking for the price of an item but the owner ignores you and continues to speak to their colleague in a language you don’t understand.

In most organizations, the policy is that all staff are required to speak the national languages while at work. Unfortunately, some staff choose to ignore this requirement and the HR Manager is forced to keep reminding them.

I personally do not speak my mother tongue while at work and in the places I’ve worked before, some staff never really can tell where I come from. It’s not because I’m not proud of my native language or I can’t speak it properly. I grew up in the village and in lower primary, mother tongue was one of the subjects. I just choose to treat everyone equally.

The problem with speaking your mothertongue with the staff is that they re-group and they start to consider you ‘their person’. You can never be successful in HR practise when other staff consider you to be their person simply because you speak the same native language. The pressures and expectations that come with that assumption is never really worth it.

If you enter an office and everyone there start to speak in a language you don’t understand, you start to have so many thoughts in your head. And if they punctuate that conversation with laughter, you will definitely think they are talking about you and laughing at you, even if they are not.

We are a very tribal nation and that’s the truth, whether you choose to believe it or not. However, I believe that no native language is superior than the other. No human being is better than the other and as such, we should treat each other with respect and when at work, act with utmost professionalism.

So if you are one of those people who prefer to transform their work places into a village gathering, it’s time to reconsider. It is disrespectful, offensive and unprofessional. Let’s all learn to mind about the welfare of our neighbours.


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