Ángel Felices Lago

Why is the cultural briefing also necessary among Spanish-speaking countries? Non-verbal cross-cultural differences under scrutiny


A widespread fallacy in the business world of Spanish-speaking countries is that speaking or sharing a common language minimizes cultural differences and, consequently, it is not necessary to make effort to learn about these possible differences through expert advice tools such as "cultural briefing" before a negotiation. However, as countless examples have shown, many promising deals have not come to a "happy end" because of ignorance of these differences. Accordingly, the rigorous study of the variations and differences in nonverbal communication that manifest themselves in business behavior among Spanish-speaking countries is of utmost importance and, consequently, both native Spanish speakers and students of Spanish for Business should become familiar with them to improve their cultural competence. This perspective is practically absent in the teaching materials published to date in Spanish for Business, with notable exceptions (Brenes and Lauterborn 2002; Cahill and De los Ríos, 2002; Felices, Iriarte, Núñez and Calderón 2010; Scott and Fryer 2019) even if their approach tends to be superficial. Therefore, a systematization of these variations is a pending task and may prove a useful tool for the future design of didactic resources.  The well-known cultural dimensions provided by Edward Hall or Geert Hofstede are a good starting point to initiate this approach. The selection of textual examples offered in our presentation will serve to contrast the cultural differences that go unnoticed by many authors of current business etiquette guides.