3 steps to avoid miscommunication with your helper


Miscommunication between helpers and employers is a common occurence. Most Hong Kong residences and most Filipinos learned English as a 2nd language so it only natural that we are going to have miscommunication. Not only is English the 2nd language for both parties, but also Filipino English and HK English are quite different from each other. Do you know where the "comfort room" is? Ask your helper. Does your helper know what a "subway" is? When I first arrived in HK I was misled by signs that said "Subway". I was looking for metro (Subway in American English)  and the sign directed me to a tunnel walkway under a major road.  My (Allan) mother is British so I always put my clothes away in the "tall boy", but after I got married I discovered my wife didn't know what a "tall boy" was. Who doesn't know what a "tall boy" is? 

Here are 3 simple steps that will eliminate most miscommunications between helpers and employers:

Speak Slowly

Speak slowly and pause between your words. Ask your helper to do the same. Filipino tend to run their words together without any pauses "kamustaka?Ako?mabutinamanSalamatpo." Many people when they feel nervous talk too fast. Slow down and "bite off" your words.



Ask your helper to repeat back to you what she heard you say.  She may say, "Sorry Ma'am can you please repeat it?" Go ahead and repeat it, but then ask her to repeat it back to you. Stay patient and maintain a sense of humor. As I get older I find that my wife and I have more and more communications like the 3 old men who were taking a walk together. 

The first says, "It sure is windy."

The second responds, "No it isn't, it's Thursday."

The third says, "I am too. Let's get something to drink."

If you keep your sense of humor things will be okay. When your helper  tell you it's Wednesday, you can laugh, then correct her and make sure she understands that you said "Windy". 

Write it down 


My brain is not sticky. I can hear something and forget it a minute later. Unless I focus and make a mental picture of what I need to do, I WILL forget to do it. I keep a "to do" list on my phone to help me remember what I need to do. Help your helper by writing things down. Give her a clear grocery list, a schedule and a "to do" list. Set aside 5 minutes a day to write some things down for her and go over them with her at the start of the day.  If she is disorganized it might be because you (her manager) are not giving her clear guidance in writing. Give her her "marching orders" in writing at the start of the day and see how she does. 

Try these 3 suggestions and leave us a comment (below) and let us know what worked and what didn't work.