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Thread: Are Spanish People Rude?

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    Default Are Spanish People Rude?

    Ben over on Notes from Spain asks if Spanish people are rude and rightly points out that it’s a bit more complicated than it first seems to be, especially for English or American people.



    He does a great job of explaining the informal Spanish queuing system which, to the untrained English eye, does indeed appear to be a shambles at best:

    The last person in asks ‘Quien es el ultimo?’, or ‘Quien da la vez?’, in order to establish who is last in turn. They then simply have to remember who that person is and step up to the counter when their marker is done with their shopping.

    I would like to add a couple of ideas to the conversation and to Ben’s answers.

    Firstly, saying that Spanish people are rude is of course, as much of a generalisation as saying that all Spanish people like flamenco. There are rude people and polite people everywhere in Spain, just as there are in England, the US and Zimbabwe.

    However, Spanish ‘loudness‘ or ‘rudeness‘ is one of the most frequently remarked upon aspects of the Spanish character by foreigners. At first I thought it was just English people but soon discovered that the impression was fairly widespread amongst visitors to Spain from many other countries. Here’s the thing…

    Spanish People Are Not Rude, Just Polite in a Spanish Way
    Physical Proximity

    As Ben highlights with his Madrid Metro example, it can seem like Spanish people want to defy the laws of physics when getting on a train at 8 a.m. and I would add the legions of 70 year-old Spanish grannies in supermarkets to Ben’s 70 year-old grandad trying to push in to the Retiro café toilet.



    Some Spanish grannies are incredible. Everybody else can be standing there queuing to pay at the checkout and the granny elbows her way to the front – as if no-one else were in the queue -and then refuses to look at, acknowledge or respond to anyone who tries to tell her differently.

    I always put this down to age and experience – “I’m in a hurry to make dinner young whippersnapper, I am the queen of the supermarket and have been buying octopus snacks since you were in nappies. Of course I’m not going to answer you.“

    However, physical proximity and the signals it sends to other people is radically different in Spain and other Mediterranean countries than in England.

    Spanish people are more tactile as a rule and get closer when they speak to you, whether or not you are particularly acquainted to them.

    This causes no end of laughs in bars when Spanish chicks visit England and get into trouble with English lads who think they’re onto something, or vice-versa when English blokes come to Spain for a weekend: the Spanish girl thinks she’s just chatting and the English guy thinks he’s in with a chance.

    It can also cause more serious communications problems when doing business – Anglo-saxon businessmen are used to a more formal and distanced treatment when doing business whereas your average Spanish businessman will stand about 30cm from your nose, gesticulate and pat you on the shoulder every couple of minutes.

    This makes English businesspeople think that Spaniards are rude and uncouth and Spaniards think that English people are snobbish and distant.

    Neither of these statements is particularly true: they are just two different cultures and ways of doing the same thing.

    Verbally, Spanish people can also seem to be a bit rude to English people. Two anecdotes will suffice to illustrate the point:

    Little Girl Wants Ice Cream



    When I first came to Spain 10 years ago, I taught English in a summer camp in a lovely village in the North of Spain called Cervera de Pisuerga.



    Most afternoons we would accompany the children on small excursions and the one which they got most excited about was of course the trip to the village where they could buy sweets (the 8 year olds) and cigarettes (the 15 year-olds, to smoke sneakily behind the summer camp later on).

    I followed one little girl into a shop because she wanted to buy some ice cream and sweets.

    She promptly began ordering the old lady behind the counter to give her various things: “give me three of those!“, “I want five chocolate ones!“, etc.

    The old lady, far from being offended as would the old lady in my local corner shop in England and telling off the little girl for being rude, gave here all the ice creams and sweets she wanted with a smile.

    Grown Man Wants Beer

    If you go into a bar in Spain and ask for a beer in a bar in the same way as you do in England, literally translating a phrase similar to “Could I have a beer, please?“and with the same volume level as in England, the bartender, if he pays any attention at all to you, will most likely look at you rather strangely and with reluctance give you a beer.



    An English person has to learn to be louder and more direct. In Spanish this is normally done in bars with the imperative: “Give me two beers!” No strange looks, quicker service and everybody’s happy.

    This is not always the case everywhere or in restaurants but serves to illustrate the point.

    Imagine going into your local in the UK and trying this the other way around: ordering the bartender to give you two beers will likely not get you very far.

    So, in conclusion, of course Spanish people are not rude but what is considered rude or polite in Spain is not the same as in anglo-saxon cultures.

    source= http://www.matthewbennett.es/510/are...h-people-rude/

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    Mourchois,

    Are these communicative Spanish trends purely limited to physical contact/physical proximity or can they also be applied to non-physical forms of communication, such as having a chat over the telephone? Americans are very open and blunt in communicating, something that often infuriates the more polite or reserved nationalities such as the Japanese. This was remarked upon by Japanese diplomats in the 19th century, that the American negotiators often didn't observe what the Japanese considered to be the rules of "polite society."

    Americans are well-known for being focused and interested in getting straight to the heart of any matter. This has pros and cons, adding to our national obsession with self-improvement, the individual, work, etc. So we often find it hard to relax and even come across as being overly serious or egotistical to non-Americans. From what you've described above, I can imagine I might have some difficulty in communicating with Spaniards, especially since I like my personal space. Anyone intruding upon my personal space that I wasn't close to I'd find to be rude, just like I consider it to be rude when someone is, say, talking to me when I'm trying to read.

    I'm just curious. Often errors and mistakes as a result of cultural differences and how each particular culture communicates and expresses itself.
    Last edited by Cato; 06-15-2011 at 04:00 PM.

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    Some Spanish grannies are incredible. Everybody else can be standing there queuing to pay at the checkout and the granny elbows her way to the front – as if no-one else were in the queue -and then refuses to look at, acknowledge or respond to anyone who tries to tell her differently.
    That's true. Overall, Spanish women are among the most stupid, presumptuous and bad-mannered in Europe.There are exceptions, of course.

    However, physical proximity and the signals it sends to other people is radically different in Spain and other Mediterranean countries than in England.

    This causes no end of laughs in bars when Spanish chicks visit England and get into trouble with English lads who think they’re onto something, or vice-versa when English blokes come to Spain for a weekend: the Spanish girl thinks she’s just chatting and the English guy thinks he’s in with a chance.
    He forgets the British chicks who visit Spain.

    [YOUTUBE]kLzTKBdQLn0[/YOUTUBE]

    Verbally, Spanish people can also seem to be a bit rude to English people.

    An English person has to learn to be louder and more direct.
    LMAO No comment.

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    So, in conclusion, of course Spanish people are not rude but what is considered rude or polite in Spain is not the same as in anglo-saxon cultures.
    He shouldn't really speak of "anglo-saxon cultures" here, only of England.

    As an Australian, I find that I have to restrain myself somewhat and be a bit more reserved in Spain, due to the Spanish being a little more formal. When I'm in England though, I find the level of restraint and reserve that I feel as though I have to employ reaches ridiculous proportions. It can be very uncomfortable being around so many socially awkward, judgemental and pretentious people.

    I think social pressures of extreme restraint and shame in England are the reason why you get hooligan type behaviour (exemplified in Alvarados' video) surfacing in the English from time to time (some more often than others ). I don't think being so reserved and constrained actually comes naturally the English.... and having to bear with such extreme social pressures on an everyday basis causes them to go ballistic on occasion, mostly in a distorted and extreme fashion; that is, in a way that isn't so natural, but a result of frustration and even anger (and a whole lot of booze! ).

    I guess they have the Victorian era to thank for that!

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    Where´s the Poll to Vote for ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mary Bryant View Post
    He shouldn't really speak of "anglo-saxon cultures" here, only of England.
    Americans still have a bit of a "frontier mentality," something that European commentators as early as Alex de Tocqueville mentioned with equal parts admiration and frustration. Right or wrong, we value plain-speaking and honesty, which makes us different than the Mediterranean countries or even the mother-country itself.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mary Bryant View Post
    I don't think being so reserved and constrained actually comes naturally the English....
    Are you sure that you're talking about the English here?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Treffie View Post
    Are you sure that you're talking about the English here?
    Yep.... for reasons I pointed out above.

    Add to that, because those of us of English blood in Australia aren't subject to the same social pressures as we would be back in the Mother country we tend to be much less reserved, less judgemental, less uptight and less socially awkward. We're more relaxed. If it were natural for English people to be so reserved and constrained, they would be so anywhere in the world that they lived.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alvarado View Post
    He forgets the British chicks who visit Spain.
    Yeah I don't know where they got that from. Northern European chicks, including Brits, tend to be much more "friendly" to strangers they aren't necessarily interested to than the Southern European girls do! LOL

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mary Bryant View Post
    Yep.... for reasons I pointed out above.

    Add to that, because those of us of English blood in Australia aren't subject to the same social pressures as we would be back in the Mother country we tend to be much less reserved, less judgemental, less uptight and less socially awkward. We're more relaxed. If it were natural for English people to be so reserved and constrained, they would be so anywhere in the world that they lived.
    Ah I see. You're comparing the English to Aussies? I suppose that they are if you compare them with each other. On the whole though, I don't think that the English are reserved. The old age stereotype of one being English and therefore reserved is now long gone.

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