These are the actual words spoken from my mouth about twenty minutes ago. I made this bold statement to one of the TMA’s at the nursing home. The situation leading up to this comment was two years in the making. I had enough and finally snapped with this girl; I felt compelled to tell her like it is. The nursing home I work for is an extremely diverse work environment, 88% of the employees here were not born in America. These foreign-born employees are almost exclusively from Africa.

I started working here about two years ago, prior to this job I worked primarily as a manager in various settings. When I had my first few interactions with the African born employees; I was floored with their demeanor and how they chose to go about speaking to people. I remember within three months I had two employees in my office from Kenya, and they were verbally gang raping me! Prior to this I had a few separate run inns with these employees, just never at the same time. Since I came from business settings I kept my composure and remained politically correct. This time was different, so I picked up the phone and called my boss to explain the situation.

In the past I have complained over these employees complete lack of disrespect, but nothing was ever done about it. I was told that these women were from Kenya, and they are very aggressive. In this situation regardless of where they were born, something had to be done. My boss called the two down into my office, and I explained where they were inappropriate, of course with their boss in the office they were speaking completely different. The end result was they had to apologize, and that I was told I had to just understand their culture and move on. I have tried to adapt to their culture over the last year and a half, and when different things would come up they were never dealt with.

Flash forward to April 22, 2010 and the conversation I just had in my office. I informed this employee that we would no longer be accommodating her schedule requests because they have been causing more problems than they solve. Prior to this she was stating I was not following the union contract and showing favoritism. I had tried to explain the situation to her last week, but she only wanted to see what she wanted to see. I took it up with her union rep in hopes she could explain it better. She became upset when I told her she clearly did not understand and to talk to her rep.

 I explained to her, that her behaviors when she does not get her way are unacceptable and it will no longer be tolerated. Needless to say she did not appreciate me calling her out so she let me have it. I let her beat into me for a few minutes when I tried to point out that the way she is communicating with me is unacceptable. I explained to her this is inappropriate for the work place, and she needed to address me with respect. It was this comment that caused her to refer to me as “you people.” She said that we expect them to understand and act the way we want them to, but you people take no time to understand us.

 I told her this is not a matter of us or them; it is a matter of proper work edict. I pointed out that in any of my jobs if one of my employees spoke to me that way they would be terminated. She continued in with the “you people” comments and said they should be able to act the way they wanted to. She said in Kenya this is the way everyone speaks to each other; therefore she can speak this way here. It was at this point I was sick of listening to her shit, and said “you are NOT in Africa, you are in America, and in America your behavior is inappropriate!” I think she was shocked by this because she lowered her tone and manner of speaking, but she still continued with the comments of how we do not make enough accommodations in America for them.

 I used a little role reversal and pointed out that if I was in Kenya and complained that “you people” do not make enough accommodations for me because you fail to act in a civilized manner in the work place. I asked her how well that would go over, and if they would even consider such a thing. She avoided the question.

 I am in no way racist against my fellow-man. That being said it is a shame that Americans are expected to lose sight of our culture, to accommodate everyone else’s. If you choose to move to another country you are expected to learn the language and adapt to the culture, not the other way around. I think a part of what makes America great is that we give immigrants the freedom in this country to live the American dream. I just don’t like the costs of such freedoms.

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Comments
  1. It’s difficult, at best, to transform a way of being. So much of what we learn in terms of socialization happens during childhood. Consequently, ways of interacting become ingrained in our personality.

    I hear what you’re saying, but I also see this from their point of view. They are behaving in a manner consistent with their upbringing. It can take decades to unlearn those lessons or learn new ones.

    No one should expect another who comes from a different culture to be able to adapt to the new culture overnight. Besides, there are just as many American born workers who are disrespectful of others as well. This isn’t merely an “African” attitude.

    • Tim Lundmark says:

      I agree. The same comment would have been made if the person was fron Iceland. I thin regardless of where you come from you should still follow some common forms of respect. The African part was just relivent to the situation. There are many African born employees that are nice as can be. The problem seems to come from Kenya.

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