There’s a right and a wrong way to do everything.
Culturally, Spain is unique in as much as it has its own ways of doing things and behaving. Just like any country, there are certain rights and wrongs in how you relate to others.
What might seem like an innocent comment or a meaningless gesture to you can be taken as quite rude by a Spanish person if, unbeknown to you, you cross the line of what they consider “comportamiento aceptable.”
No te preocupes.
Before you start getting into a panic, we are not saying that the Spanish are intolerant. Quite naturally, they make allowances for anyone who isn’t from their culture and so, even if you were to commit a total “traspié” or faux pas, they would forgive you. If you are living in Spain or simply visiting, however, it’s best to know how to behave.
After all, to be forewarned is to be forearmed.
The Cultural Divide.
Let me give you an example of something quite simple, yet radically different.
In Spain, when you are a guest in someone’s house and you want to leave, there is a process that you should adhere to.
You must give notice that you are planning to leave LONG before you actually want to leave. There is rarely a speedy get away form a Spanish household unless there really is an emergency. Rather, the geust begins to throw into the conversation that they really must be going as they have things to do.
The host then poo-poo’s that suggestion and offers more beer, food, crisps etc.
After much to-ing and fro-ing, which can last for a good hour or more, the guest then makes a move for the door.
Only when it is absolutely clear that they really are serious about leaving does the host go and get their coat.
The Spanish doorway stand-off.
This is when things get interesting. Their being by the door and having their coat on does not, by any means, indicate that the visit is over.
It’s here, in the doorway that the Spanish stand-off begins. A good fifteen minutes can pass in which host and guest talk about a wide range of subjects, the family, what happened with so and so, the plans for the following week or whatever happens to “surgir”.
At no time does the host give any indication that they wished the guest would just “irse de una vez” even though I have always had the feeling that deep down that’s exactly what they would love to say.
The repercussions of rushing out the guest.
I heard a story of a lady who was a once guest in someone’s house. Knowing that she had to leave within the next hour and a half, she did the normal thing by saying that she really needed to go.
To her shock and horror, the host went immediately and got her coat.
This was more than ten years ago and she still talks about it to this day! lol.
Listen into our podcast so you don’t have to be the talking point of some future host for the next twenty years. 🙂
Gordon: (Cynthia will kill me when she reads this. Gulp.)