For the record, I’ve never struggled with accents. I even worked with a Kiwi bloke back in the day and we didn’t have any issues communicating with each other – well unless you count this one time where he called and launched into a conversation and paused when he realized that I didn’t have a clue who he was and proceeded to give me his first and last name along with a snide remark about how the accent should have been a dead giveaway! Working with this one bloke from New Zealand to being in an office filled with New Zealanders is a totally different cup of tea though.
Sometimes I find myself wondering if the people who work with me think I’m slow. When the accents are thick or if a lot of mumbling is involved, I find myself staring at people to figure out what they’re trying to say to me. The funny part is that most of time this doesn’t help as I’ve come to the conclusion that I suck as a lip reader. Sadly, this became really obvious to one of the guys I work with one day as he decided the best way to proceed with our conversation was to start spelling out the words that he realized that I was struggling to understand so we could be on the same page. I’m ashamed to even admit it but he ended up spelling out the words such as call and entries to me.
If this wasn’t bad enough there’s also the Kiwi lingo that throws me for a loop. Never in my life have I heard the words like heaps, cheers, arvo, and sweet as in a work environment before. To this day I still don’t understand how the two words cheers heaps together can actually mean something to someone. Oh, and also since I’m not censoring the truth – I had no idea what arvo met until this week so I kept staring at the producer blankly as I figured it was me struggling with the accent thing again until she dropped me an email saying arvo with the word afternoon in brackets. Super awesome as that helped to clarify a lot of things and made me feel like less of an idiot somehow. As I’m about to start my third week at work I wonder what interesting communication blunders and simply stupid looks across my face are going to happen this week.