Argentinian’s are very warm, outgoing people that express themselves through bodily conversations. They are quite expressive and emotive in their communications. They tend to ask many questions that may be considered personal; it can be considered impolite if one does not ask such questions. It is common for Argentines to interrupt each other while conversating as it seen as passion or interaction in the topic. They communicate indirectly with high levels of nonverbal communication.
The official language of Argentina is Spanish, however due to the strong ethnic ties of many Argentinean’s, other languages are widely spoken especially in the metropolitan area, Buenos Aires. These languages include Italian, Portuguese, English, French, Yiddish, German, Arabic and in recent years many languages from East Asia. English is not only an ethnic language but is the language of the educated and the middle class who make up a majority of Argentina’s business class. Many Argentinians have the ability to conduct business in English as a sign of their education.
Argentina is a high context culture meaning that Argentinean’s rely more on the way in which a message is communicated than on the words employed. Due to our low context culture in the United States, this could be difficult and could subsequently lead to misinterpretation of the many ways in which Argentinean’s express themselves. In high context cultures, messages are also understood in terms of the full context of the communicator’s’ relationship with one another. This implies the importance of social etiquette and formality in official situations like business meetings and creates an emphasis on face-saving and respect.
Argentina has distinctive nonverbal communication that is unique compared to the United States and is important to understand. Four areas of nonverbal communication that are crucial in Argentina are personal space, touching behavior, movement and eye contact. Argentinean’s stand 3 to 4 inches closer to someone while engaging in face-to-face communication, compared to the United States, where there is roughly an arm’s length of distance. Touch is emphasized in Argentina. Common workplace interactions likely include handshakes with noticeably longer durations than in the United States, touching one’s forearm or shoulder, and greeting kisses between men and women as well as among women themselves. Argentinean’s also use their hands considerably more when speaking. Gestures can have negative connotations like placing one’s hands on their hips may be interpreted as seeking confrontation and pointing with the index finger is considered rude. The frequency and size of gestures may lead to some American’s to misinterpret Argentinean’s as more irritated or enthusiastic than gestures read by other Argentinean’s. Lastly, eye contact is extremely important. Maintaining eye contact during a conversation is believed to demonstrate a sense of honesty and interest in the person who is speaking. These combinations of nonverbal communication may seem overbearing in other cultures, but it is significant to try to accept these body language characteristics.
Status and hierarchy are significant and need to be consider when speaking. Titles are very important in Argentina, especially among the elderly. In the business world, it is usual to be referred by your surname rather than your first name. Titles are also often used like Ingeniero (engineer) or Abogado (lawyer). If a person does not have a professional title, they should be addressed as Senor (Mr.), Senora (Mrs.), Senorita (Miss). Also, different forms of expression indicate varying levels of courtesy and formality. The polite form of speech is to address people in the formal form of ‘you’, known as ‘usted’. The informal ‘you’, known as ‘vos’ is generally used between people who know each other very well such as friends and family. Trust is an important element in determining which voice is appropriate to use.
In Argentina, business behavior is directed by personal interpretation. It is important to become familiar and develop a personal relationship with your business partner before undertaking any significant business dealings. Establishing a good and trusting relationship with a colleague is crucial. Some Argentines have become less trusting of business and organizations due to past exploitations. But, they are more welcoming to foreign organizations and businesses because resources may be more secure.
To deepen a relationship, try to be more talkative and transparent. Argentines are deeply interested in family and as said before, one’s personal life is often a common discussion. Avoid topics of past and present political issues, for example, Peron and his ideology, Great Britain and the Falkland Islands are highly sensitive topics. Avoid referring the United States as “America” and use “North America” instead. Lastly, do not assume all Hispanic and Latin Americans are the same person. There are many different countries and cultures across Central and South America that vary in many aspects.
Working in teams is extremely important in Argentina. The most important part of the team is developing strong, long-term relationships like the United States. They tend to work well in teams if all the parameters are clear. Argentinians do not like things to be left too vague and are particularly wary about being seen to seize somebody else’s responsibilities. It is important that each role, responsibility, report, etc., are clear at the earliest opportunity.
Although Argentinians are straight-forward and blunt, they avoid confrontation and embarrassment, especially in hierarchical boundaries. When dealing with a work-related problem with a colleague, it is better to confront problems with a colleague directly and privately. Communication, especially working in another culture, is essential. Publicly exposing the differences between colleagues can diminish the trust within the organization. Because Argentinian’s are open and willing to enter discussions and difficulties, it is important to confront a colleague directly in a private setting.
Business meetings can appear to be noisy, energetic affairs with people frequently interrupting each other to add points or disagree with what is being said. In Argentina, it is very important to be able to engage in disagreements and criticize their opinions yet remain on friendly terms. Again, this liveliness is viewed as a positive as it shows high engagement and interest. While remaining uninvolved and reserved, you will be viewed as disengaged and disinterested.
Argentina is #3 in the world in terms of hours spent on social media every month. Facebook is the most used Social Media platform in Argentina with 72% use in 2017 and in second place is Instagram with 50% use. LinkedIn is not used in Argentina (statista). Like the United States, the same demographic groups that are average online users, ages 15-24, are also heavily social media users.