Understanding social and cultural life in Mexico
May 20, 2015
Whether we’re traveling, visiting or relocating, living in a new culture can be a new thrill to experience. Understanding the local norms can be helpful in immersing into the daily life of a new country. Mexican culture might be quite different from your previous home.
Politeness rules in Mexico; instead of “no,” Mexicans may use the less–confrontational “maybe” or “we’ll see.” Hand gestures are often used when speaking. Friendly, light physical contact is common. Most men shake hands and women will touch an arm or offer a light kiss on the cheek, but hugs are reserved for close friends or colleagues. There is also a smaller sense of personal space.
Mexico’s rich, diverse rich culture is a mix of modernity, colonialism and pre-Columbian heritage. More than half of the population is of Amerindian-Spanish heritage, a convergence of mainly Spaniards and ancient Mesoamerican cultures and traditions. A smaller part of the population is indigenous. As a consequence, throughout the country there is a massive collection of cultural expressions and interactions, differing from region to region. This diversity of expression impacts both business and everyday activities.
Doing business in Mexico is similar to practices in the United States or other Western cultures. Strong handshakes, business cards, résumés, interviews and other recruiting practices and protocol are common practice. A strong difference is the degree of lightness with which Mexicans may approach business; it’s common to hold meetings over lunch. Often, the Mexican host will insist on paying the bill, saying the other party “can pay next time."
Business correspondence is formal and titles are commonly used. Correspondence isn’t casual, brief and straightforward. Date format is day, month and year, e.g., 23 de enero de 2015. It is common to indicate the location, e.g., México DF. Times are expressed in either 12-hour or 24-hour notation.
Ways to act like a local
- Breakfast, between 7 a.m. - 8 a.m., is a heavy meal usually with fruit, meat and eggs.
- Lunch, around 2 - 3:00 p.m., is the main meal of the day. Business lunches can last several hours.
- Dinner, a light meal, is usually served around 9:00 p.m.
- Mexico City is referred to as El DF (short for Distrito Federal) or simply México. The slang term for residents is chilangos.
- It’s expected for guests to be late to parties by about 30 minutes to an hour.
The local experts at Crown Mexico can help you with your move and with settling in to the daily life of this culturally rich country.