0

I work in France for a multinational company, in a worldwide department.

A new hire joined the team, so an announcement has been issued (pdf, to print and display in our offices around the world), and our assistant has sent an email to everyone, saying:

'Please find jointly an organisation note', instead of 'attached'

The meaning is very clear for French people as the French verb was used, and is clear from context to everybody else.

I wrote her a light message on Slack, to let her know about it, but I ended up not sending it, afraid to hurt her feelings.

How would you handle such a case?

closed as primarily opinion-based by gnat, Michael Grubey, Jim G., Twyxz, solarflare Oct 24 '18 at 1:30

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • I would just ignore the error. Now if it is a outgoing message to the public, then maybe dropping a message is a good idea. But internal no. – Dan Oct 22 '18 at 13:48
  • 4
    Has anyone expressed genuine confusion about the email so far, rather than just finding the wording a bit unusual? – user34587 Oct 22 '18 at 14:06
  • Give them a chance to learn, they will see/learn the right terms soon. – Sandra K Oct 22 '18 at 14:30
  • ....so an announcement has been.... . Personally I look forward to being corrected but some people don’t. How do you deal with corrections?! – Iman Oct 22 '18 at 15:30
  • 1
    You made me remember the day in US, when a door was locked for safety reasons, and needed to open it for a work to be done. I said seriously to my US coworkers: “ we need to violate that door” and everybody started laughing. – Ge Peace Oct 22 '18 at 18:06
12

Not sending her the message is probably a good idea. Correcting people is generally seen as rude, and if not, it will probably label you as 'that person who always needs to correct everyone'.

As long as it's clear to you what she's saying and it's not hurting work (for example, your company website won't be full with mistakes) I would say leave it.

If you would talk to her in person and while you're talking she makes the mistake you could casually mention it like 'Hey did you know in the English language it's 'attached' and not 'jointly'? I had no idea.' you just learned the fact and want to share it.

Otherwise I wouldn't risk it. A simple mistake is in my opinion not worth possibly damaging a work relationship.

  • 4
    "I had no idea" is a lie, and a transparent one at that since OP obviously knows - otherwise how could he inform the other person? – pipe Oct 22 '18 at 15:31
  • 1
    @pipe It's in the following clause: "you just learned the fact…". – Upper_Case Oct 22 '18 at 15:57
  • @pipe indeed the 'I had no idea' is a way to insinuate you just learned something, this helps make the other person not feel stupid and the other person will be less likely to get angry. If you have other questions about that part of my suggestion I'd suggest moving to IPS though :) – Summer Oct 23 '18 at 8:30
9

How would you handle such a case?

Unless you wrote the original announcement, this isn't your issue to tackle.

And even if it were, it would be perfectly clear to most English readers what was meant by the phrase. I'd be surprised if anyone were too confused and shocked if they were insulted.

I would just leave it alone.

  • As a native English speaker, I would not have understood that statement. Nor would I have thought to check the attachments for the PDF unless it was made patently clear that a) there was an attachment and b) I should be looking at it. – Ertai87 Oct 22 '18 at 18:45
  • Yes, but some are better than others. I distinctly remember versions of Thunderbird which didn't even show you had an attachment, except for a very small (~12pt font) filename in the header which I would often miss. Also, if the filename is like 1234.pdf (as is often unfortunately the case with auto-generated files) I may have no idea what it is and not believe it relevant to open. – Ertai87 Oct 22 '18 at 18:57
  • I mean, sure. If the attachment is just there, in the center of my screen, with a file name that says OPEN ME, then any message doesn't matter. But that isn't what you said that I disagreed with: "it's perfectly clear in English what was <sic>mean by the phrase". Which is false; what may/may not be perfectly clear is "there is an attachment here, you should open it"; what is not clear is the meaning of the phrase presented in English, which I would not understand absent a clear notification of an attachment elsewhere. – Ertai87 Oct 22 '18 at 19:33
  • 1
    @Ertai87 if you were the recipient and did not understand the email, you are perfectly able to reply and ask for clarification. But the OP is asking about offering a correction, which implies they understood the message. – HorusKol Oct 22 '18 at 21:04
8

It's a good rule of thumb to mind your own business.

I'm basically saying what is stated in the other answers which is great, but take this comment to heart whenever you see or notice something that is not harmful to the company.

Your time is probably better spent at doing your work than fuzzing about whether to interrupt someone's day or not, notifying of such a harmless error.

  • These kinds of English oddities are par for the course in a multinational. I work for a small but very international company in Switzerland; we have at least nine or ten different countries represented. Every day I hear strange pronunciations and grammatical curiosities in English...and I make them myself when I speak German on occasion. Improving one's knowledge of a language is important, but not as important as one's relationships with one's colleagues. Public communication is a different matter. – user1602 Oct 23 '18 at 9:10
  • There's always a time for everything, including correcting grammar. I think it's important that you're sure who you're dealing with when entering that area. It's ideal that the person to be corrected has shown open interest in receiving such suggestions. – Jonast92 Oct 23 '18 at 9:46
3

It seems like more answers suggest to not send messages to co-workers to correct their spelling. But I think you should correct their spelling or grammar mistakes - although perhaps not via Slack or e-mail.

English isn't my first language and I lived in an English speaking country for a few months. Although I told my co-workers multiple times that I want them to correct me, they usually never did. When I asked them why they didn't they told me that they still thought it would have been impolite.

You described a mistake in your question that was done because the wording made kind of sense in French but not in English. And I did similar mistakes over and over again during my time abroad. And I remember how thankful I was when someone gave me the change to avoid this kind of mistakes.

To improve in a second language you need someone to correct mistakes. And I was always very thankful when someone told me that I did something wrong - especially when I repeatedly did the same mistake. And it helped me to improve my English and to gain confidence in a foreign language.

Therefore I suggest: Go to her desk and ask her if she wants advice. She might be interested to learn and happy when someone is willing to help.

  • It would be more idiomatic to say "I made similar mistakes over and over..." ;) – user1602 Oct 23 '18 at 8:31
  • @Kyralessa Thank you very much, this is very helpful. This is - again - a great example of a type of mistake that I make because the idiom is different in English and German. Jotted this English idiom down. Thanks again :-) I wonder if I should correct this mistake in my answer? But I think I will leave it like it is because it is - together with your comment - a good example. – spickermann Oct 23 '18 at 8:55
1

Unless you are this person's supervisor or are in charge of internal communications, stay out of it.

It is generally understood that you give a fair amount of "Slack" (tolerance) to grammar and spelling issues when someone is working outside of their native language.

Anything that would be critical communications should be reviewed and edited by someone who is a fluent, if not native speaker of the target language.

I'd hate to think I was being judged by my Spanish communications to our staff in Chile. I'm glad they give me some tolerance.

0

While I wish to echo the other answers that encourage you to take a page from Queen Elsa's book, if it's bothering you, you have an out. You can hide the criticism in a tip. For example:

Fun fact: When you use GMail, if you use the word "attached" in your English email, but you don't actually attach anything, it will warn you before it sends? It's neat!

Now obviously you can't use this trick for every correction, but here you're not offering an alternative because she is wrong but rather because of someone else's feature and it makes her more productive.

But I can't stress enough: unless the person has specifically said they would like to be corrected over trivial stuff (and I know people like that!) then don't bother. I'd follow the logic I put forth in this answer instead.

-1

I think it really depends on the person in question.

If you had to pin the new employee down, how would you describe their personality? (This is essential for managers and such who care about employees and how best to handle them).

It's rather rudimentary, but these guys have a free explanation of personalities and hence it may help you get an idea about this new employee and how to tackle your issue (this works with everyone, your boss, your friends, family), https://www.16personalities.com/articles/our-theory

Now, it's your choice to decide. Are they introverted and turbulent? Do you think they'll worry that everyone thinks they're bad at their job? Send the message, make it as friendly and welcoming as possible, the new employee will likely be looking for someone for support, to be friends with, and may come to you hopefully with any queries in the future they might be unsure about.

Are they extraverted and assertive? Do they come across as 'I don't mind making mistakes, we all do'? If so, then you'll be doing them no favours pointing their mistakes, they'll be standoff-ish and probably wont want to hear it, leave that to your manage.

I only come to mention two personality types as they're the easy ones to spot from a distance, you can usually tell if a person is happy to talk to others or isn't, avoiding eye contact and such, and you can normally tell if someone is assertive or turbulent, just by the amount they smile or frown at work.

I agree with the rest, if you're just pointing it out for the sake of pointing out, don't bother, if you're doing it out of concern for the person, then read above.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.