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.
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This World Business Culture profile is designed as an introduction to business culture in Spain only and a more detailed understanding needs a more in-depth exploration which we can provide through our training and consultancy services.