Argentinians communicate indirectly and in a relationship-friendly way in business life. For them, simpatía, mutual esteem and cordial relations always come first. This is why points of criticism are generally not openly addressed and conflicts are avoided as far as possible. Above all, this happens out of the need to not attack others and to preserve social harmony. Even in controversial matters, it is important to protect your counterpart from a loss of face in order not to endanger the simpatía.
With this in mind, Argentineans will often avoid taking a firm stand on a particular issue. If you receive the answer “Maybe”, “I think so” or “Don’t know” from an Argentinian, you can confidently translate it as “No”. They don’t like voicing their opposition directly as such a harsh refusal is perceived to be very rude.
If you want to work successfully with Argentineans in the long term, you should develop strategies for dealing with this indirect form of communication without offending your partners.
Express yourself in a diplomatic, friendly and respectful manner in every situation. Without simpatia nothing can move you forward in Argentine business.
Avoid criticizing Argentineans openly. If there are any problems, please speak to them privately and preferably only to the boss.
Ardent praise and recognition are very much in keeping with the Argentineans’ need for harmony. In other words, articulate any positive impressions as often as possible.
You may also encounter other challenges when communicating with Argentineans on a joint project. In Argentina, there is an obligation to collect: this means that you should actively collect information.
For example, in joint project work, do not assume that you will be informed about things (for instance, if something goes differently than planned). Do not expect your Argentine colleagues to actively approach you and inform you of the new status quo; instead, you will have to get to the bottom of it yourself.
Maintain regular, personal and friendly communication by telephone with your business or project partners. This is the best way to learn about any “changes”.
In addition to verbal communication, non-verbal communication also plays a significant role in business life.
As you know, every human being has a so-called “personal zone”. This is the distance that you automatically maintain from your counterpart. The size of this zone is different from culture to culture. In Argentina, this personal space is quite small.
Depending on the size of your own personal zone, you may find it a little uncomfortable if you feel your personal space is being invaded, for instance by a hand being placed on your shoulder or forearm during a conversation. Try not to step back to increase your space; it often helps to just turn your foot a little outwards to feel comfortable again.
Argentineans gesticulate a lot when they talk. Speech is supported emphatically with the hands or with the whole body.
You should recognize two gestures. This gesture is called “I have no idea”. And this gesture means as much as “Wait a second, I need to think about it first”.
Once you know these two hand movements, it will probably be not too difficult anymore to understand the Argentineans talking with their hands. And if you don’t speak Spanish, the lively gestures of the Argentineans will certainly make communication easier.