|Is this a challenge?|
Earlier in the week, I was working with a colleague in our Quality Assurance department, drafting up a formal and very important letter to the authorities regarding one of the products that I'm in charge of. We had some back and forth on the key issues to clarify and make sure that we had a common understanding of what we wanted to say and this worked quite smoothly without any big disagreements. My counterpart got to work drafting out the formal letter and I did not really think much about it as he and his team work with stuff like this on a daily basis, so I trusted that they would draft up a good letter.
A few drafts of the letter were sent back and forward for input and feedback and I focused on making sure that the right stuff was in there and not thinking much about the language used. At the end of the day a "final draft" was sent to me, looking very nice with all the right stuff in there apart from one very awkward and strange sentence in Japanese. I probably spent 10 minutes reading it back and forth, assuming that they would not make such a simple mistake I started to wonder whether it was my Japanese that was the problem and not the sentence. After asking a few (Japanese) colleagues close to me, of their opinion, they all agreed with me that the Japanese indeed was strange.
At the deadline was getting close, I quickly shot of an e-mail to the QA guy highlighting the sentence and adding a suggestion followed by "I'll call you know". I called the guy up and the, up until now, very friendly QA manager first responded with indignity that I would question his Japanese ability and a mildly condescending attitude suggesting that I had perhaps not grasped the Japanese. However, after a few minutes of conversation and him looking at his sentence he got silent for a few seconds, followed by a meek "Oh, yes, I see what you mean, this sentence actually is a bit odd...".
I really did feel a bit bad about giving him the news that the Japanese was odd as they take considerable pride in their competency in drafting up advanced letters (both in topics and written Japanese level) and I probably was one of the people least suited to correct his Japanese... I did my best though to keep a humble attitude towards it and it all ended happily.