Due to the long vertical length of its territory, Chile is country of 7 climates, from tropical deserts in the north to the sub antarctic weather in the south. Also known as the “Land of Poets,” Chile is believed to have won this nickname because of its high quality education acknowledged worldwide. It is also the homeland of Pablo Neruda and Isabel Allende, two exceptional writers well-known from the South American continent.
“To feel the love of people whom we love is a fire that feeds our life.”
― Pablo Neruda
Chile’s economy is currently at a peak, with a significant increase in its GDP and very low inflation. It is the richest country in South America by GDP per capita, is a world class wine destination, and is a nature-lover’s paradise. In business, effective communication and relationship management is critical for success. Here are 4 cross-cultural tips to follow for your business dealings in Chile:
1. Establish trust through common ground. Like other Spanish-based countries in Latin America, Chile scores high on Hofstede’s Uncertainty Avoidance dimension, meaning that the culture is naturally skeptical about risks and making changes. For this reason, it is recommended to approach new business through a third party introduction. This will reduce the fear of potential new partners and immediately establish a basis of trust. Chileans pay close attention to rules, regulations, career security and values transparency in management and business relationships.
2. Care for your partners and team. Chile is categorized as a feminine society on the Hofstede Masculinity dimension, which means their values revolve around caring for others and a high quality of life. In a working environment, be more accepting and act in a caring, nurturing manner to generate synergy in business relationships. Look for win-win solutions and be The Virgin Mary, Santiago, Chile by goodfreephotos willing to compromise with all stakeholders. Practical
examples of how to do this can include flexibility in the work schedule, company lunches, and frequent check ins to show appreciation. Avoid “win-lose” scenarios.
3. Think “we” not “me.” As a collectivist society on the Hofstede Individualism dimension, Chileans prioritize strong relationships and loyalty among their group members. Therefore trust and teamwork is extremely important. Combined with its Feminine cultural characteristic, Chile is a place where businesses perform best when there is support and consensus among team members and managers. Avoid aggressive behavior, be genuine, and act with your best interest in the business. Expect dynamic conversations where a Chilean counterpart may interrupt your speaking, which indicates interest and enthusiasm rather than disrespect.
4. Expect less personal space. In the U.S. an arm’s length is the typical distance two people stand when greeting, generally with the shaking of hands- . However, personal space in Chile and in many Latin American countries is much smaller. Someone may stand right next to you and talk quite close to your face, and could be offended if you step back. Resist the temptation to do so, and don’t be surprised if your Chilean counterpart hugs you or kisses your cheek after meeting for the first time.
Chile’s people and culture will make you feel appreciated and cared for in any business venture, and you’ll be best served to reciprocate. As poet Pablo Neruda wrote, “Loving and being loved are the best feelings in the world.” Practice this philosophy in your business dealings in Chile, and love it in the process!
Mapocho river, Santiago by Deensel on flikr
Sharon Schweitzer and Sophie Echeverry co-wrote this post. Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural trainer, modern manners expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE Centre and the Intercultural Communication Institute, she serves as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. She is the resident etiquette expert on two popular lifestyle shows: ABC Tampa Bay’s Morning Blend and CBS Austin’s We Are Austin. She is regularly quoted by BBC Capital, Investor’s Business Daily, and Fortune. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business, Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, now in its third printing, was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015. She’s a winner of the British Airways International Trade Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards and the 2017 New York City Big Book Award for Multicultural Nonfiction.
Sophie Echeverry is the corporate marketing manager and event coordinator at Access to Culture. Born and raised in Colombia, she’s a 2018 graduate with a B.B.A. in International Business and Marketing from Hult International Business School in San Francisco, CA. Connect with her on LinkedIn.