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As a Brit working in America, how can I get my American colleagues to stop mocking my accent/spelling?

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Harsh Vashishth

User

( 6 months ago )

I am not a person of colour and I do not pretend to understand the struggle of those who endure racial discrimination, prejudice and persecution based on their race or ethnic background.

However, because I am a white British person in America, it seems to be acceptable for my colleagues to speak either at me in to others in my company in an attempted British accent, or to reply to my emails highlighting the differences in our spelling (the British 'colour' instead of American 'color' and so on).

I understand that Americans for the most part like and respect the British, therefore is it ok for them to mock my accent as in their mind it's all in good sport and just a non-malicious bit of fun?

I do not hear them attempting to imitate the accent of my Indian colleague, a gentleman of the Hindu faith with brown skin.

How can I get my American colleagues to stop mocking and imitating my accent and spelling? Is this something I can/should take up with HR?

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Raman Tripathi

User

( 6 months ago )

 

As a (male, white) Brit who has worked in the US for over 15 years, the best advice I can give you is embrace it and join in. Of course people have picked up on my accent many times and poked fun at it - but it's rarely malicious.

I jokingly made it known in my office that I was the "Keeper of the Queen's English" any time someone picked me up on spelling, and point out that "we invented it, so I maintain that my way is correct".

Similarly, we often joke about how only one country can ever win the "World" Series, or why Scotch is obviously superior to Bourbon. Or whether I should be allowed to take the 4th of July off as a holiday.

Just keep it light and enjoy the fact most people are interested in you and your background.

Of course, if it turns into discrimination, that is a different issue.

In response to comments, I don't think my answer is to "get over it" at all. It's to recognize the fact that British people stand out in the US rather than ignore it. That cannot be avoided. For the first 6 months I lived here, every time I opened my mouth to speak I noticed how different I sounded from everyone else. It made me self-conscious and slightly uncomfortable. I'm not a naturally gregarious person (which is another difference I needed to recognize and adapt to). Ultimately though, it's easier to control how I react to other people than to control how the entire US population reacts to me.

what's your interest


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