by Hillmann Hollister and Stefanie Claudia Müller
The Hispanic world nurtures a certain hypocritical culture, a mix of educated discretion and a lack of validity. In the work force in Spain and Latin America it is difficult to tell if someone is saying “no” or if they’re saying “I can’t”. One will always find an indirect manner to say no. Lying is ugly, but the absence of the truth is healthy and convenient for many Hispanics. And even though it pains us to realize it, we have to lie or hide the truth so that we don’t hurt people and so that they respect us as well, because this is another: If I say it they will say it back to me situation. For this reason, it’s necessary to be polite sometimes. This is the “made in Spain” form of lying.
9 ways to say no or at least not say yes
- The most well known indirect manner to reject something is: “Let me take a look at it. I will get back to you tomorrow”. This is to say: What you are telling me is not interesting and most probably I will dismiss what you’ve said.
- But there are also forms like: “How interesting, let me rearrange some things and I’ll get back to you later”.
- Silence is also a Spanish way of saying “no” and it is not considered a lie.
- Not saying the entire truth is another important strategy in business. If the other person asks you a direct question, you do not need to mention everything.
- The truth is not appreciated the same way in Spain or Germany in, for example, a job interview. In Spain it is better not to be totally transparent and to respond only to what you are asked.
- Disinterest is another way of saying no. This happens many times at the professional level. You write emails, send projects, send your CV and don’t receive a response. Not even the minimum of good manners to tell you that they have received your request.
- In Spain, it is important to be very on top of things in order to convince someone with a disinterested manner. Many things function through networking and nepotism, and due to this it’s necessary to know how to suck up and bite your tongue more than once.
- The fact that someone invites you to eat doesn’t mean that your project interests them.
- Eating at noon in restaurants is essential for Spanish businessmen. The Spanish love going out to eat with an attractive woman, but many times it can be that they are more interested in being seen with her in public than in what she wants at a professional level from her lunch-date. As a woman, do not trust the professional help of a man too much.
This is what the founder of Jazztel has to say about the Hispanic culture of lying: Martin Varsavsky
Anglosaxons live in a culture of truth. Latinos live in a culture of lies. This isn’t to say that in the world of business in the USA no one lies and in Spanish-speaking countries no one tells the truth. It means that lying is seen as a graver act in their culture than in ours. I am not disposed to debating this theme with any critic who has not spent at least 10 years of their life in the USA because if not, we are going to waste time.
In Spain, the United States get such bad press that only someone who was educated in the United States and lives in Spain is able to debate this theme. In this case I believe that they would agree with me that lying is considered graver in the USA than in Spain. After having lived a third of my life in Argentina, a third in the USA and a third in Spain, I have several anecdotes from my working life about this theme. About how in Argentina lying is currency, in Spain it is tolerated, and in the USA they fight against it.