I am considering implementing a policy that all employees must speak the language of the country where the company is located in when speaking to another employee in the office, even during lunch, breaks, by the water cooler, etc.

The purpose for such a policy would be so that other employees don't feel excluded and perhaps even paranoid if they hear co-workers talking to each other and can't understand them.

But I am not sure if this request is reasonable, and how it would affect the company.

What effects can occur in the workplace from enforcing a policy that all employees are required speak a specific language at all times while in the office?

I would prefer a single answer outlining both the positive and negative effects of such a policy.

I should add that no employees have a problem speaking the local language, and it is already a job requirement to speak it well.


First I do not see that the OP is saying that they are wanting to implement that policy. It is my understanding they would like that policy at their office though not in a position to implement it. So the change is not reflective of the intent of the question.

Second, and probably more importantly, it is asking us to evaluate the policy. This is not a constructive question as posed. It is asking us to discuss the merits of the policy. That just does not make a good question.


I'm the one that made the change.

I came across the question which was both closed and downvoted, but thought at the core it seemed to be an OK question and I wanted to see some answers on it. So thought I'd take a shot at editing it to get it reopened.

The basis of the question was asking if it was reasonable/ethical to enforce a policy requiring employees to speak a specific language, which I thought was definitely an on-topic question.

But since someone pointed out in the comments that

I have voted to close, because the question is currently one of ethics, which is off-topic

I removed the part about it being ethical.

Another comment raised the question about it's constructiveness:

Debating the merits of a policy is not constructive. From the FAQ You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face. Chatty, open-ended questions diminish the usefulness of our site and push other questions off the front page

so I attempted to make the question be about the actual problem the OP appeared to be facing by making the assumption that it was the OP was the one looking to implement the policy.

This assumption was based on the fact he had included why the policy was going to be implemented in the original question, which made me think he was part of the inner discussions about implementing the policy, and likely had a voice in regards to if it was going to actually get implemented or not.

I had a hard time finding a way to phrase the question in a way that wouldn't be considered off-topic (Is it ethical/legal...), too localized (Should I implement this policy...), or not-constructive (List me the reasons why I shouldn't use this policy...)

I finally settled on the current question (What effects can occur in the workplace from enforcing this policy...) and included a line specifying the ideal answer should include both the pros and cons of such a policy.

I've seen questions asked this way successfully on many SE sites, and thought the scope (a specific policy's effect on the workplace) was specific enough to be answerable with a single decent answer, and was not broad enough that it would end up with multiple pages of answers and no one-right answer (which is the reason why "polling" questions get closed as "not-constructive").

Other than assuming the OP was the one implementing the policy, and adding a specific question to the text to guide the answers towards a higher quality of answer, the rest of the changes were simple rephrasing of what the OP had already said, either in the question itself or its comments.

That said, I can see how the final question I ended up using (What effects can occur in the workplace from enforcing this policy...) may be considered a "polling" question by some, and I'm sorry if it was an invalid edit. I would definitely welcome suggestions to rephrase it, or someone else editing it into something that could be universally accepted by SE users as "constructive".

Overall, I think the question is a good one. I personally would have left it at "Is it reasonable to enforce this policy?", however based on the comments and some of the other closure discussions lately, I didn't think it would be enough to get the question reopened.

  • 1
    Not all questions should be reopened. This question appears to be a rant about the OP's coworkers speaking in a language he does not understand, so he would like this policy implemented. I deduce this from the way his comments danced around why the op was asking the question. Jan 16 '13 at 14:30

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