Latin American Mentality

Latin America is a very large region that is difficult to describe in general terms. A distinction can be made between Caribbean countries and countries like Argentina and Chile, which were partly influenced by Germans and are closer to the European mentality. A distinction must also be made between life in the metropolises and rural life.

In Latin America, different cultures have intermingled to varying degrees. After the Portuguese and Spanish conquered Brazil and the conquistadores mass-raped indigenous women, the ethnic groups intermingled to form mestizos. Descendants of African slaves mixed with whites to form mulatos. In addition, further mixing occurred with the Indigenas, the Mestizos, and the Mulatos. With this mixing of ethnic groups, there was also mixing of mentalities and cultures in Brazil. In Brazil, social distinctions are made. The Whites, who had destroyed the developed culture of the Indigenas and Aztecas, still experience the highest social recognition, followed by the Mulatos. Then follow the Mestizos, and at the bottom are the Indigenas. The Latin American states never really developed a democratic substructure, even after the liberation from Spanish colonial rule. Free, critical thinking was never encouraged in the dictatorships and authoritarian regimes. Governments were often swept into power with the help of the military, but were unable to solve social problems. As a result, neither education nor health nor legal systems are developed to the extent they are in Central Europe.

Capital is distributed very unevenly in Latin America. Very few people are extremely wealthy as large landowners, wholesalers, industrialists or high officials. Most people, however, are extremely poor and work in agriculture or run micro businesses. The middle class in between is thin.

Hopelessness and despair have given rise to the mentality of Latin American surrealism in these countries. Wishful dreams are confused with reality, illusions with solutions, anarchy with freedom. This contradiction between the good world they imagine and the imperfect world they live in is also expressed in communication. Many embellishing words are used, but little action follows. Words are equated with actions. Self-discipline is no longer present. People tend to enjoy life under the given circumstances, with as little effort as possible, because they have learned over generations that effort gets them nowhere. Consequently, determination, a systematic approach, organizational talent, willpower, and diligence and perseverance are less pronounced qualities. Responsibility toward society and a sense of community are also not developed in Latin Americans because they have to take care of their own existence and have made the experience that they can’t do anything in society anyway. Average Latin Americans blame others for undesirable developments. This explains, among other things, the environmental sins in the Amazon region. Within the impossible, Latin Americans still count on the possible. This optimism in despair is called “jeito.” Even if something doesn’t work out, Latin Americans don’t get upset: “Tranquilo. No se preocupe. Relájese.” Are common responses (“Stay calm. Don’t get upset. It will work out.”). The word “impossible” is not used in Latin America.

This explains why many Latin Americans produce less output and work less on their careers than Central Europeans. Latinos work just enough to finance their lives. Latinos prefer to spend their time with family and close friends. They take a lot of time for people, are extremely courteous, participative and have a strong sense of justice in their personal environment and also enforce their legal views. Appointments play a subordinate role for Latinos.

They show exuberant friendliness and show and expect a lot of respect. They express this continuously with many sentences. They are passionate people who show a lot of emotions. Latin Americans communicate with a lot of facial expressions and gestures. Personal relationships and mutual empathy are more important to them for business transactions than technical competence. Women and older people are treated more courteously in Latin America than in Central Europe. If you dismiss this, you hurt the pride of Latin Americans. However, do not necessarily expect punctuality from Latin Americans; Mexicans in particular are unlikely to live up to this expectation. This is also due to the fact that in Latin America hardly anything can be planned. They simply let things run their course (“linealidad”) and make the best of every situation and every moment. Foreign business partners are expected to be punctual, however, because they are appreciated for their virtues. Business attire is more formal and conservative in Latin American companies than in Central European ones.

Authority is respected in Latin American countries. Companies in Latin American countries are strictly hierarchically organized and are classically managed according to the instruction principle. This is necessary to get any output at all. Address business partners with their academic titles until they signal that they do not expect it.

In meetings, Latin American business partners expect the presence of a high-level representative of your company.

Look also to the British mentality, the Swiss mentality, the Austrian mentality, the Spanish mentality, the Dutch mentality, the Scandinavian mentality, the French mentality, the Turkish mentality, the US-American mentality, the Italian mentality, the Indian mentality, the Chinese mentality, the Japanese mentality, the Russian mentality, and the Arab mentality.


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