Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Social Etiquette in Mexico

I've read other blogs referring to social interactions and proper etiquette in Mexico, and I've read Joanna van der Gracht de Rosado's delightful Magic Made in Mexico (which you can review on my Favorites link), but I recently found yet another site devoted to "making the most of your Mexico experience." Mexperience  provides a handy guide to everything from immigration to health care and bringing pets. You can sign up for a free newsletter, purchase their guidebook, or simply print the pages you like.

I'm particularly interested in the social etiquette section. The rules are somewhat different from those in the US, Canada or Europe. Many are subtle while a few are strikingly different.  For example:

        "Politeness, patience and tolerance in situations, however frustrating they may appear, is always appreciated and, indeed, ultimately rewarded in Mexico. Conversely, a display of impatience, anger, frustration or lack of general respect in formal or informal situations tend to fall on 'deaf ears' when dealing with most people in Mexico; ...the ultimate outcome in a situation could be made worse for you through deliberate obstruction or total rejection of your wishes, ....as a reaction to what is deemed your impoliteness."
Now, this could sometimes be the case NOB, but many times pitching a fit is the only way to get action.

Or this:
        "Personal space: Mexicans tend to stand closer to each other than in the US and Europe. It may be off-putting at first, if you are used to having two feet or more of 'air' between you and other people (and especially those of the same gender as you), but in Mexico it's quite common for people to stand and converse with each other a foot or less away from each other, regardless of gender. Stepping back too far may be taken as a sign of mistrust."
This section goes on to describe 'men meeting men', men meeting women', and 'women meeting women.'

And this:
       Eating Out and Dining  Etiquette - "If you invite someone to eat out, it is assumed (and expected) that you will settle the bill. Splitting the bill is not done in Mexico and, indeed, suggesting it should be done is considered rude and uncouth. The invitee(s) will always offer to pay: this is a social grace, and one that should always be politely declined. If you are invited out for a meal you, too, should offer to pay, and then gratefully accept the decline of your offer."

And, OMG, this:  (guilty!!)
        "Putting your hands on your hips is a sign of aggression in Mexico; hands in your pockets when in conversation with someone, as in many countries, is regarded as bad manners."


  1. There's nothing like beautiful manners!

    I notice if I say 'hello' to a passerby on the sidewalk, especially someone many years my senior, I get the most beautiful smile in return. I think the locals are surprised when a NOB-type makes a minor, polite gesture.

    I'll have to practice my etiquette skills at home, and no longer say "Hey you!" to people on the street.

  2. Thanks for that mini lesson, J&A. I appreciate learning about social etiquette in our soon-to-be snowbird home. I'm often surprised by the innocuous things in our culture that are considered so very rude in Mexico.