How to understand Mexicans (Part 2)

Please read Part 1 first

Mexicans never say no.

Don`t bother asking for directions on the street because you never know if the person telling you to go straight, turn to the left and then to the right actually has any idea. It may be true or not with a 50/50 percent chance. Most probably you won’t glean much about what they really think when you ask them if they like your food/hairstyle/work etc. Don’t worry, with time you will become more attentive to small gestures, facial expressions or pauses and start distinguishing the truth.

Mexicans are very polite and very sensitive by european standards. Unfortunately, it is easy to offend them even if it is not your intention to do so.  Everybody is extremely polite and if you don’t dedicate half of each work email to asking about how they or their family are it would be considered rude. Often Europeans seem too direct and rude for Mexicans because they say what they think without sugar-coating it. If you have to criticise someone be very careful and wrap it in nice words, otherwise you are risking not speaking with this person again. You may loose you providers/subordinates/partners just because of a few poorly chosen words.

Mexicans are great at creative things like painting, cooking, singing, dancing, sewing and humanities.  At the same time it can be complicated to work with them because few people like to take the initiative or solve problems. Sometimes in order to avoid conflict they prefer to ignore the issue. Maybe it happens because many of them just don’t fit to our capitalist industrial way of life that was imposed to them.

They are an interesting mix indeed. On one hand they love foreign brands, they are curious about other cultures and sometimes even feel inferior to other countries. On the other hand they are very proud of their food and love Mexico. In other countries I`ve never heard people talking as much about themselves on the radio, TV etc. Perhaps it stems from their colonial history and they are still trying to understand who they are and their place in the world.

Mexico is a very traditional “machista” society.  On some occasions when my husband and I have gone somewhere together they have asked him questions on my behalf as if i was not there. At the same time they are quite open in regards to the gay and lesbian community, at least in Mexico City and Guadalajara.

The value placed on skin color.  Perhaps, the most shocking thing for me is the importance of skin color. This is the first time I`ve experienced this phenomena so strongly.

I am treated differently because of my skin color. People step aside to let me pass, when they see me they`ve already formed an idea about what I am – they think that I have money, and obviously foreign, and I am probably a bit of a snob. It is very sad and it makes me think that we are still so far from the developed world. There are shopping malls where you can see only “white Mexicans” and the advertising does not tend to be too representative. You go to upscale places and it feels as though you are in Switzerland or anywhere but Mexico.You can also hear conversations like:”How is your daughter?” “Good. She improved the race” This means she has a european/american boyfriend. “Such a beautiful baby, it has such a fair skin.” I have trouble accepting this kind of attitude. Although recently I´ve learned where it is coming from. After Spanish conquered Mexico they set up a cast system.  They created two lists to divide people into groups. One list was for “white” people with Spanish roots or children from mixed marriages of Spanish and Mayan princesses. People from this list could choose their profession without any problem. The other list was for indigenous people and mixed families where one of the parents was an indigenous and did not have any royalty. These people were not allowed to  have “noble” professions. Perhaps mordida (bribe) originates from those times because it was possible to buy your place in the “white” list if you had enough money.

Mexicans are very nice people. You feel very welcomed everywhere you go. They are truly interested in your country, culture, food etc. The majority don’t come across as pretentious. They have a very social culture, much more so than many european countries. Soft skills are becoming more and more valuable and perhaps we could learn a few things from Mexicans in this regard.

They love watsapp, but hate emails You can write to your doctor, boss, employer etc. on watsapp anytime. Although, email communication and companies presence online can be close to non existent. I like Mexican silver and I wanted to start a business selling silver pieces online. I went to Taxco (silver production center in Mexico) and collected producers contact details. Many of them warned me that they don’t have any website or Facebook page and when i sent them emails I received only 2 answers out of 20. One of the reasons that they don’t show they business online is because they are scared of extortion. It makes doing business with them very challenging . That is why E-coomerce is developing with at the speed of a turtle. So, be ready to never receive any responses to your emails here.

In conclusion, I feel very comfortable with Mexican people around me. Calm and warmhearted Mexicans are similar to Russians in some ways. Like Russians they are very resilient to many of life’s challenges, but they are more social and they always smile.

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