A diary entry about a misunderstanding


  1. Learning English through Workplace Communication

You work in a boutique in Causeway Bay. Today there was a misunderstanding between you and an English-speaking customer. Write a diary entry about what happened and include how you could have handled the situation better.



Dear Diary,


As clichéd, as it sounds, I’ve learnt a fruitful lesson after dealing with an English-speaking customer today. Thanks to the foreign lady with a pair of blinking blue eyes, I can now realize my deficiency in languages. If I’d discovered that my English still has room for improvement, I would have handled the case better and the misunderstanding wouldn’t have occurred. Ma’am, thanks for reminding me that.


This morning, I was almost late to work. Causeway Bay was really a busy and crowded place. Blocked by those tourists carrying “giant” luggage it took me more than 10 minutes to walk from the bus stop to Hysan Place. After arriving at Hollister, the boutique which I worked in, my body, from head to toe, was fully damp with sweat. I immediately rushed into the staff room to get myself prepared. However, though the scorching Sun and the arraying tourists had already ruined my mood of the day, these were still not the worst. Soon when I got back to my assigned area — girls’ clothing, the biggest challenge appeared when a magnificently dressed woman came. “Hey boy, would you mind if I ask you a question?” an aggressive voice came from my back. When I turned my body to the direction where the question was asked, I was in complete surprise. Seeing her curly blonde hair, her tanned skin and her typical Western clothing, I had so many butterflies in my stomach.


Well, this was the first time for me to be so nervous when dealing with foreigners though I had already handled several cases before. I had no problem in communicating with other normal English-speaking guys, but I could barely hear a word from this woman. She was actually practising an accent with which I found it so difficult to hear her words. Anyway, I summoned up my courage and tried to talk to the lady. “Hello. May I help you?” I cracked a smile, looking into her eyes. “I’d like to ask if … size?” she spoke so fast that I could not catch every single word. Not being brave enough to invite her to repeat the question, I tried to guess what she had just asked. Since I heard the word “size” and she was apparently plumper and stouter than the usual females, I believed that she was asking whether there was a larger size of the dress she was holding. “Okay. Just go to that corner and our staff will help you.” I flashed a smile again.


When I started thinking that I had made another successful attempt in dealing with English-speaking customers, the lady suddenly came back with a blushing face. “I was asking you whether this size fits me, but not asking for a larger size.” She spoke to me, softly. Seeing her blood-red face, it seemed that I embarrassed her a lot about her body figure. Immediately after realizing that I misunderstood her words, I apologized to the lady. I was so guilty that I made her upset, but fortunately, the lady was generous enough to forgive me. Lady, I am so sorry for that. I will never forget this mistake.


Although it was just a minor mistake, it’s really provoked my thought. I wondered if I could have handled the case better if I had put more efforts into learning English. To be honest, I used to believe that I had a satisfactory command of English because I always got a good result in my exams. It was the lady with blue eyes who reminded me that I was too arrogant. Just because I have good performances in formal exams, it doesn’t mean that I’m capable of communicating with others in English. When communicating with others using English, there are factors that are beyond control, like fluency and accents ones are having. Instead of learning some sophisticated sentence patterns, constant practices are also needed if we’d like to enhance our communication skills. I’m glad that I’ve been reminded of it.


From now on, I’m going to hone my English communication skills for all the challenges awaiting. I will watch English TV news every day to train my listening ability and I will also try to imitate the words spoken by characters in TV series to improve my English presentation skills. I’m pretty sure that I will be capable of handling native English-speakers in the near future. Lady, if you are coming to Hollister again, certainly are you going to be impressed by this brand new salesperson. I mean it!