Last Updated 09 Jul 2021

Spanish Culture

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All about Spain

Spain is a very geographic diverse country, ranging from deserts, beaches, and mountains. Spain is deeply rooted in tradition due to the many outside influences throughout time. Spain is the third largest country in Europe. Spain became part of NATO, and then joined the European Union in 1986. After this the economy of Spain increased significantly, placing Spain firmly on the Western economy map and gained major trading partners. The country is a highly developed and stable democracy.

Spanish Family Values  The family is the basis of the social structure and includes both the nuclear and the extended family, which sometimes provides both a social and a financial support network. .Today, it is less common than previously for family members to work in a family business, as personal preferences are important and university education is general . The structure and the size of the family vary, but generally, people live until longer lives, have fewer children than before, and fewer people live in their homes with extended family.  Familial networks have become less tight. The greatest changes have occurred inside families, between men and woman, and the parents and children because the values that inspire these relations have changed. Religion in Spain The majority of Spaniards are formally Roman Catholic, although different religious beliefs are accepted.

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During the history of Spain, there have been long periods of where different religious groups have coexisted, including Muslims, Jews and Christians.Still some traditions manifest more like a cultural event than a religious one. During Holy Week, many participants of the processions wear peaked, black hats as the sign of a penitent and walk barefoot, carrying a burden of some kind. Religious history is apparent in every small town, where the most grandiose building is typically the church. In the large cities the Cathedrals are almost museums. Bussines - Key concepts and values Face - Spanish culture places a large emphasis on personal pride.Therefore, causing loss of face through criticism or embarrassment should be avoided at all costs.

Business in Spain

During business meetings, for example, it is essential that your presentations are comprehensible in order to avoid any embarrassment that may occur from possible misunderstandings. In addition, when dealing with your Spanish counterparts you may also find that competence and control are important elements of their work ethos and crucial for saving face.This may result in your Spanish colleagues insisting that everything is in order, even if it is not. Individualism – In terms of personal attributes, individualism is highly valued in Spain, along with an emphasis on character and social status. Spanish culture highlights the importance of self and one’s family. However, influenced by its collectivist past, family values, a sense of identity and belonging to a group, are also integral parts of society in Spain.Consequently personal qualities, appearance, image and personal relationships are extremely significant components in contemporary Spanish culture.

In a business context, personal attributes and character are frequently valued as much as technical ability, experience or professional competence. When doing business in Spain, you will find that individualism is particularly predominant in management, where Spanish managers are less inclined to favour group decision making and team orientation.Uncertainty Avoidance – This is a vital element of Spanish culture that refers to the cautious approach the Spanish take towards new ideas. In Spain, individuals tend to avoid ambiguity, but often accept a familiar risk situation. Spain's attitudes to rules, regulations and structure are important for maintaining a sense of control in a typically uncertain situation. In business, managers in Spain generally prefer to have precise answers to questions and give precise instructions in order to reduce conflict.In addition, you may find that the Spanish amenable nature to initial business suggestions is often hindered by a considered and tentative approach to final decisions.

Masculinity Vs Feminity

Machismo is the word for male dominance, and the culture of old men who created it has changed dramatically. Spain is a very equalitarian society, the birth rate is the one of the lowest in Europe, and women are present at university and work. High Context vs. Low Context -Take a look how members of high and low contextual cultures see themselves and their opposites:

  • High Context Communication
  • Low Context Communication
  • polite
  • open
  • respectful
  • true
  • integrates by similarities
  • harmony
  • integrates by authenticity
  • not direct
  • direct
  • High Context claims Low Context
  • Low Context claims High Context
  • impolite hiding information
  • “cannot read between the lines”
  • not trustable
  • naive arrogant
  • no self discipline
  • too formal
  • too fast
  • too slow

In high context communication information can have different meanings according.It needs additional information to encode (understand). In low context communication information has only one single meaning. Spain is between High and low context communication but it is more oriented to high context.

Doing business in Spain

Working practices

  • Working hours can vary across Spain. Generally speaking, offices open at approximately 09. 00 and close mid-evening, with a two-hour break around 14. 00.
  • However, Spanish working hours have become more "Europeanised" in recent years, particularly in the northern cities. o Business appointments should always be made well in advance in Spain and confirmation via letter or fax beforehand is advised.It is best to arrange initial business meetings for mid-morning due to the relatively unusual structure of the Spanish working day.
  • Punctuality is expected of foreign visitors; however, you may sometimes find your Spanish counterparts arrive up to 30 minutes late.

Structure and hierarchy

  • Hierarchy and position are extremely significant in Spanish business culture. For this reason it is advised to work with those of equal rank rather than with someone of a lower business status.
  • The distinct hierarchical structure of Spanish businesses means the authority to make decisions rests with the individual in highest authority.
  • Subordinates are respectful of authority and are generally far removed from their superiors.Spanish business culture advocates subordinate initiative where problems are dealt with at lower levels first before approaching superiors for assistance.
  • Working relationships o An essential part of conducting business in Spain is establishing personal contacts.

Generally speaking, the Spanish prefer to do business with those they are familiar with, therefore obtaining personal contacts enables the negotiation process to advance more swiftly and successfully.

  •  Establishing solid business relationships and building colleague rapport is a vital concept in Spanish business culture. Effective business negotiations and decisions are frequently based on trust and personal feelings, as well as concrete evidence. The Spanish close sense of personal space and animated means of expression and communication can be seen as part of this emotion directed culture.
  • Business practices. The decision-making process in Spain is usually unhurried and can be a gradual, detailed procedure that involves consideration from various levels within the company. In this respect, maintaining good relationships with your Spanish counterparts from all positions are vital for success. When arriving at an appointment it is advised to present your business card to the receptionist.

Wherever possible, business cards should be printed in English on one side and in Spanish on the other. You should present your card with the Spanish side facing the recipient. An initial introduction at both business and social meetings generally include a formal handshake with everyone present, male and female, whilst making direct eye contact. Business etiquette (Do's and Don'ts)

  • DO remain patient in all dealings with your Spanish counterparts.The Spanish are sometimes noted for their relaxed approach to business and Spanish bureaucracy can be frustrating. However, be wary of the 'manana' stereotype as you will find that certainly in the northern regions such as Catalonia and the Basque Country that deadlines and punctuality are much more closely adhered to.
  • DO try to maintain a friendly and personal atmosphere during negotiations.

In order to be effective in Spain, Spanish business culture also requires a sense of self-dignity, consideration and diplomacy. DO use basic titles of courtesy, Mr, Mrs, or Miss, followed by the surname, and professional titles, such as Dr, where known. Particularly with older counterparts or those in the south of Spain. Care should also be taken in using the correct surname as Spaniards have two, their father's first surname and their mother's first surname. Normally the father's surname is used on its own.

  •  DON'T expect to enter into business discussions at the start of a meeting. Your Spanish colleagues will want to establish a familiar environment on which to build new business relationships.

This may include asking personal questions regarding your family life and background. DON'T presume that business can be explicitly discussed over meals, it is generally considered a sociable activity and therefore you should wait until your Spanish colleagues initiate such conversation. Despite this, business lunches and dinners are a vital part of business life in Spain as a means through which to establish trust and future business relationships.

  • DON'T display signs of over assertiveness or superiority. Your Spanish counterparts will appreciate a more modest approach to business negotiations.

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Spanish Culture. (2018, Oct 16). Retrieved from

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