Communication In Spain

People do not speak Spanish, or rather Castilian, everywhere in Spain. About 10% of the population in the regions of Catalonia, Valencia and the Balearic Islands speak Catalan. 6.5% speak Galician and 2.5% Basque. These languages also have the status of an official language in the relative Autonomous Communities.

If your business appointment takes place in the Catalan-speaking area, you should clarify in advance whether you can rely on your Castilian Spanish or whether your Spanish business partners only speak Catalan. If you do not speak either Castilian or Catalan, the business language will most likely be English. However, it is advisable to clarify in advance whether you and your Spanish partners need an interpreter.

Speaking Style

Spaniards speak fast and in a lively way. Depending on the topic, the discussions can also get emotional and heated. There are hardly any breaks during conversations because people talk over each other or even speak at the same time. This is by no means to be interpreted as rudeness but as a sign of lively interest and activity. Long pauses in speech or even silence, on the other hand, are perceived as unpleasant and quickly interpreted as disinterest.

Spaniards use expressive facial expressions and gestures not only to communicate but also to reduce the distance between interlocutors. People want to involve everyone in the room in the discussion.

Indirect Expression

Spaniard’s communication always takes place in a manner that tends to strengthen the relationship, trying to avoid a loss of face. Critical points are therefore always “packaged” or even just hinted at between many positive aspects.

Therefore, make sure you avoid critical remarks, and especially accusations, in front of everyone. If you have to, try and express them within a diplomatic, friendly conversation, eye to eye. Also, it is better to talk in terms of “we” and “us” if you want to make recommendations or suggest improvements.

In the same way, Spaniards will often shy away from saying a direct ‘no’ because they do not want to alienate the interlocutor. Instead, people may express themselves indirectly and with caution: as a result, things, may sound a lot more positive than their actual meaning. The absence of a reaction or an answer can also be meant as a rejection, which people prefer not to put into words.

Therefore, when discussing with your Spanish business partners or colleagues, you should always take into account the overall context in which something is said. If necessary, you may want to combine a lot of different information from different sources into an overall picture and pay attention to non-verbal signals.

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