Was I out of line in the office?

I work in an international office. We have two guys from country X. A friend of mine got a boiler with installation instructions in “X-ese”. They were hilarious in an Engrish kind of way and made no sense whatsoever. In naughty mood I passed this onto my two cow-orkers from X. Haven’t heard a peep out of them since. :eek: Do you think they are offended?

A few mitigating circumstances:

  1. English is not my first language either.
  2. Country X is a nation that should know better, i.e. a country that is normally well able for an English translation and this instruction manual was just sloppy.
  3. I made it clear in the e-mail that I thought their English was excellent.

It’s kind of one of those things where there’s really nothing GOOD that can come of it, but there are bad things that can come of it.

If I got something funny in Chinese here, I would not forward to the Chinese guys. Actually, I wouldn’t even forward it to my American friends. There’s enough crap to forwrad on a daily basis without dancing around the line of whether it’s offensive or not.

It’s not like I’m being clear myself. What I meant was that the boiler installation instructions were a hilariously bad translation from “X-ese” into English.

Definetely not having a good day with the old submit/send buttons.

Now I feel awful.

I really wouldn’t have minded at all if it had been the other way round.

Should I apologise? Or would that make it even worse?

:o :o :o

Just go into their office and go, “ah. . .me so solly.” Try to make it look like you have buck teeth.

Maybe they thought it was just some kind of glurge, and deleted it without reading.
Maybe they read it, but didn’t think it was worth responding to.
Maybe the hamsters ate it enroute.

Put yourself in their shoes.

Say you could read their language. You’d busted your ass to learn it, and were successfully working in that foreign language, in their country. You considered yourself pretty exceptional, to have come so far over many obstacles, and you take your job pretty seriously.

Then one of them sends you a copy of some random equipment manual, that reads normally in English, but is really poorly translated into their language.

I suspect their response is more WTF than LOL.

Have you made jokes like this with them before? Have they?

Have they ever showed any sensitivity about their language or way of speaking?

I don’t think I would have sent it at work, no matter what. I’ve been sent stuff like this. When I get them I just feel like it’s kind of not work-appropriate. Which it isn’t.

I don’t see any need to apologize, unless they really come to you and say they’re made. I would just make sure to make a self-deprecating, funny comment sometime in front of them.

Just let it go. They probably weren’t offended. Bringing it up will probably just be awkward.

I would flat out ask them if they were offended - they aren’t the Queen of England you may address them. If you felt close enough to them to send the e-mail, just go (or if that is difficult in that they are at a another location call) the one you feel closest to:

Did that offend you? Was that email offensive to you?

**If Yes ** "So sorry, (if appropriate and not digging yourself in deeper) Maybe you misunderstood where I was coming from, (Offers of lunch, flowers etc) I feel terrible, What can I do to get past this, I value our collegiality etc.

**If No ** *Thank goodness, I wondered if you thought it was in bad taste – because I think you are so great * blah-blah

If the answer is yes you need to get on top of it and get out in front of this in a work situation, if No this really isn’t a big deal & there will be no harm (save a blush or two) in asking …

So, just for er…closure. It ended up like this.

I felt quite worried about the whole thing and was going to go up and say something but it was Friday afternoon and they’d left for home. As I know one of them socially (as in, had a few drinks after work with them and some other colleagues) I sent him a text message to his mobile phone wondering if that was offensive and that I was really sorry if it was. No answer.

So I get on with my weekend but am vaguely worried in the back of my mind. Then on Sunday I get a reply to the message saying;“Sorry late reply, phone was out of credit (I don’t know if this pay-as-you-go system is the same in the States but that can easily happen here in Ireland). No idea what the problem would be. People of X are all strange and crazy. See you at work.”

Was I ever relieved. Replied saying I was very glad to hear it and that I was a right crazy Dutchwoman.

So all ended well, but I learned my lesson and won’t do it again in a hurry.

(bolding mine)

In which case you smile nervously and back away with your hands where they can see them. :slight_smile: