Trouble c accents at work?

  1. I have a really hard time with language accents be it either foreign or regional dialects. I had an altercation with a house supervisor the other day who accused me of not listening when I did not understand her and asked if she could repeat what she said. When I explained I have a hard time with accents she became very offended and further accused me saying "you just do not listen and I do not have an accent!" Well, she DOES have an accent and a strong one and I barely understand half of what she says. This supervisor continued to berrate me accusing me of not listening and I literally had to walk away from her because she was being so innappropriate. Most of the NAR's also have a strong accent and I have a hard time understanding them. This is starting to feel like a problem. I think the supervisor took it as a racial issue and this I do not understand - I had the same problem when in Ireland last year and again when in New Orleans several years ago. Anyone have any input to share?
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  2. 74 Comments

  3. by   Jules A
    I'm right there with ya, too heavy of a Southern accent and I'm saying huh? LOL. It is a problem, imo, and I think that in our current state of "political correctness" it won't or can't be objectively addressed. I worked with a foreign nurse, very competent, so I had no problem with her knowledge but her communication skills were horrid due to a very thick accent. My first thoughts were how much it hindered her interaction with patients who would get frustrated and stop trying to talk with her. It really hit home when I heard a group of Physicians talking about how hard it was for them to undersand what she was saying when she had to call them in the middle of the night. I'm sorry but to me that sounds downright dangerous. I wouldn't want one of my family members to be in crisis and have a nurse that the Docs can't understand trying to describe the situation. Just my two cents of course and only worth what you paid!
  4. by   letina
    I hear ya! I work with many people who I have difficulty understanding, mainly on the phone, I think it's so much more difficult when you can't "see" the person also. Whenever I'm taking orders on the phone from a doc with a 'heavy' accent I always ask them to spell out anything I'm not sure about, same goes for people in the lab or pharmacy. I don't have an American accent, I'm British, so I always break the ice by saying "I'm sorry, but I'm having difficulty understanding you, but hey, you probably can't understand my limey accent either :chuckle "
  5. by   fetch33
    I work with an African nurse who also has a speech impediment. She is very difficult for anyone to understand. I have actually had to take over some of her patients because they felt so uncomfortable with not being able to understand her.
  6. by   chenoaspirit
    One night I was on phone with a physician who is from Pakistan. I couldnt understand a word she said. I kept saying "pardon". I finally had to give the phone to my charge nurse. Most of the docs at our facility are from either Pakistan or India and they are almost impossible to understand. They get so upset with me, but honestly I cant help it.
  7. by   TheCommuter
    I'm originally from California and moved to Texas last year. I am constantly being asked this question: "Where are you from?"

    People never have any problems whatsoever with comprehending what I say because I speak proper English. I personally think I am asked the annoying question because I'm an African-American female who speaks standard English. The majority of the black people around here speak English using African-American English Vernacular or a deep Texas drawl.

    To the original poster: it is tremendously annoying for an individual to be told that (s)he has an accent. I can see why your house supervisor became offended.
  8. by   P_RN
    When y'all say accent are y'all speakin' about dialect too? Seems I can spread the molasses with the best'o them.

    I usually have no problem with most accents, except for a couple of Indian doctors/nurses who were reared in Africa. They have a British/Nigerian/Indian brogue that's hard to place. However, our patients come first and we and they need to understand each other. I have on occasion asked someone to write down what they are saying. If you approach it in good faith it usually works.

    Now y'all lemme know what y'all think Kay?
  9. by   leslie :-D
    Quote from TheCommuter

    To the original poster: it is tremendously annoying for an individual to be told that (s)he has an accent. I can see why your house supervisor became offended.
    commuter, educate me please?
    why is it offensive to be told one has an accent?
    i've been told i have a very thick boston accent and i take it to be true, since i have lived in boston for over 40 yrs.
    yet it never dawned on me to become offended.
    i'm just not understanding where the insult comes in.

    leslie
  10. by   mshultz
    I can really emphasize with this problem. Not only do I have trouble understanding accents, I also have problems whenever there is background noise. Talking on the telephone is torture except for the rare clear connection. My ability to comprehend when there are dropped syllables is also poor.

    Amplification does not help; I need a quieter background. I always thought Aimee Mann of 'Til Tuesday expressed it best in the song "Voices Carry":
    Hush up! Shut up!
    Hush up! Shut up!
    Oh God, Keep still!
    Keep it down!
    Voices carry!
    Last edit by mshultz on Dec 28, '06 : Reason: Corrected the names and lyrics
  11. by   mshultz
    Quote from earle58
    commuter, educate me please?
    why is it offensive to be told one has an accent?
    i've been told i have a very thick boston accent and i take it to be true, since i have lived in boston for over 40 yrs.
    yet it never dawned on me to become offended.
    i'm just not understanding where the insult comes in.

    leslie
    It is always the OTHER person who has an accent
  12. by   santhony44
    I have to admit that I have a Southern accent. I've encountered very few people who seemed to have difficulty understanding me and have told people "If you think I talk funny, I probably think the same about you." If someone doesn't understand me, I don't mind repeating myself, or trying to reword what I'm saying.

    However, I have encountered some accents I have a great deal of difficulty with. Indian and Korean are the most difficult for me. I worked with a wonderful Korean physician whose accent was hard enough in person; on the phone, I had to ask him many times to repeat himself. I also actually turned down a job once because most of the physicians and the clinic manager were all from India and I knew I couldn't cope with the stress of struggling to understand them.

    I'm sure I've worked with people who thought I was "slow" because it sometimes takes me a second to decipher what they're saying; I find myself "seeing" the words in my head as if they were in print and that helps. Combine that with the Southern accent that makes some people automatically deduct about 20 IQ points and people occasionally start speaking r-e-a-l-l-y s-l-o-w-l-y to me.

    I don't ask people to repeat things for the fun of it or to frustrate them, I just want to be clear on what I've heard. Repeating the same thing over, more loudly, is not very helpful. Rewording what you're trying to say often helps a lot.
  13. by   dazey71
    Sometimes when I'm taking phone orders and can't understand the MD, I just blame it on the phone. I've never seen one get mad about the nurse not being able to understand him
  14. by   nialloh
    When I came to the US, people had a very hard time understanding me. I spoke too fast and jumbled all my words together. Was I offended.........NO.
    The reason........If I want you to understand something, It's my job to make myself understood. Not yours. I already know what I want to say, and I have to make sure you do too.
    If you were a mind reader, you would be earning a lot more money.

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