Chileans are a very patriotic people and willlikely take offense at negative comments of any kind directed at their country.
It’s a mistake to compare Chile to Argentina: there has been a great deal of
conflict between them.
In conversation, try to deflect attention from yourself. The best strategy is to
display a genuine interest in others.
Focus on questions related to their interests, whether they are sports, travel,
cultural or life rather than very personal questions.
Chileans perceive interruptions as a way of participating in conversations and displaying interest in what is being said.
So, if you are interrupted, there is no need to take offense.
Remember that Chileans tend to have an inherent sense of courtesy that sometimes causes them to say what they think
they want you to hear, rather than give a candid response.
Personal honor is very important to Latin American businesspeople. Refrain from publicly
criticizing or patronizing others, and doing anything else that might create
South Americans generally converse in closer proximity than North Americans so do
your best to adapt to this practice. It may be taken personally if you back
away from someone.
Note that as friendships develop and solidify, handshakes are often followed by
enthusiastic kissing, hugging and back patting. When you are in these
situations, follow the lead of your Chilean counterparts, as they may take
offense if you pull away.
Chile can be a somewhat formal country. Third party introductions, through
institutions such as banks and consulting firms, are often a necessary prelude
to conducting business in Chile.
Chilean business culture has a definite hierarchical order and you will be expected to defer to the most senior person
present. Observe the “chain of command” in negotiations.
If you need to point, use the index finger. Pointing at other people, however, is
often considered rude.
Welcome Topics of Conversation
- The positive aspects of Chilean history and current economy.
- Sports are an excellent topic. Popular sports include skiing and fishing.
- Chilean culture, art and literature are excellent topics. Learn something about this in advance
of your visit.
- Chile’s beautiful geography, landscape, lakes and vineyards.
- Food and wine are always good topics. Chile has marvelous wine, and is very proud of it and the
industry it has created.
Conversation to Avoid
- Don’t Criticize any aspect of Chile, even if your Chilean companions make these kinds of
- It’s best not to mention the countries surrounding Chile – Argentina, Bolivia, and Peru. There
is a lot of competition between them.
- Don’t discuss human rights violations and the Araucanian Indians
- Any discussion around ethnic and social classes or religion.
- Avoid bringing up wars and politics involving Chile.
Join me in the future for CHINA!
Contact EMMY AWARD WINNER, Gayle Cotton
for your next meeting or conference to help your business become more
successful in today’s Global Business Marketplace. Gayle is President of
Circles Of Excellence for Corporate Training & Executive Coaching. She is
the author of the ‘5 Keys to Successful Cross-Cultural Business Communications’,
available in book or DVD. She travels worldwide as a distinguished Professional
Keynote Speaker. Gayle’s vast experience living and working abroad will
entertain and inspire any audience with her fresh, unique and humorous approach
to Cross-Cultural Communications! Having worked with companies of all sizes and
industries, including 50 Fortune 500 companies, Gayle has successfully helped
them grow their businesses internationally. Success in the global business
arena can only be accomplished with awareness of the various distinctions in communication
styles, business strategies and approaches to cultural etiquette in different
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