Communication within Spanish organisation is very often on a need to know basis. This is not necessarily defined by rank on an organisational chart, but more likely by networks of relationships.

A manager will inform those that he feels he should inform and this is very probably determined by strength of personal relationships. Departments do not, necessarily, freely communicate across departmental lines, as any such communication is more likely to be at a more senior level – peer to peer.

As with many Latin countries, communication tends to be predominantly oral rather than through the medium of the written word. Some cultures don’t believe things until they are in black and white, other cultures don’t really believe things until they hear them from people that they have a trusting relationship with. Spaniards tend to put the spoken before the written word. When sending something in a written format it is usually a good idea to follow it up with a phone call or a visit.

Verbal communication in Spain can often be viewed from a distance (particularly from a northern European distance) as theatrical and over-emotional. In Spain, if you feel something strongly, you show it. Overt signs of emotion do not imply lack of conviction or bluster and should be taken as the deeply felt belief of the speaker. The ability to use a large volume of language and a sincere manner are key management tools.

Humour is not used in very serious situations, where it can be seen as lacking the necessary decorum. However, in everyday situations it is important to be seen as good company and entertaining. Life is to be lived and enjoyed.

A brief overview of some key concepts to consider when doing business in Spain

Written and Produced by Keith Warburton

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This country profile has been produced to give a short overview of some of the key concepts to bear in mind when doing business with contacts in Spain. It is intended to be an aid to business people who have commercial dealings with counterparties in the country but should not be seen as an exhaustive guide to this topic or as a substitute for more substantial research should there be a need.

With this in mind, we have covered the areas which are key to a better understanding of the cultural mindset underpinning business dealings in Spain and which are, quite often, extremely different from the approach and thought processes associated with business in other parts of the world.

Therefore this briefing note is broken into short, bite-sized sections on the following topics:

  • Background to business
  • Business Structures
  • Management style
  • Meetings
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Women in business
  • Entertaining
  • Top tips