Argentine Culture

Communication

Verbal

  • Communication Style: Argentines are quite expressive and emotive in their communication. They tend to ask many questions that may be considered personal; it can be considered impolite if one does not ask such questions. It is also common for Argentines to interrupt others while conversing when overcome by their passion or interest in the topic. Interruptions are often viewed as a demonstration of one’s interest in the conversation.
  • Indirect Communication: Argentines tend to communicate indirectly. People are expected to read between the lines. Indeed, Argentine conversations tend to be highly contextual. A few words can hold great meaning depending on the context and the delivery of the statement.
  • Conflict: Despite their expressive way of verbally communicating, Argentines usually aim to avoid conflict or confrontation. If people disagree over a topic, Argentines usually address the differences in opinion indirectly and tactfully. At times, they may go to great lengths to de-escalate a situation and keep the situation as calm as possible.
  • Formality: In Argentina, different forms of expression indicate varying levels of courtesy and formality. The polite form of speech is to address people in the formal form of ‘you’ (known as ‘usted’). This voice is used particularly when young people are addressing someone older than them. The informal ‘you’ (known as ‘vos’) is generally used between people who know each other very well, such as friends and family. Trust is an important element in determining which voice is appropriate to use.
  • Raised Voice: If there are multiple people in a conversation, Argentines may speak louder to be heard. Raised voices are the norm and do not necessarily indicate agitation.
  • Inverted Question Marks: In the Spanish language, questions are written with an inverted (or upside-down) question mark at the beginning of the sentence. For example: ¿Cuántos años tienes? (How old are you?).


Non-Verbal

  • Physical Contact: It is common for Argentines to be quite tactile as they communicate. Touching another person’s arm or back is a common and widely accepted practice. Physical contact with someone regardless of gender when talking, such as placing a hand on another’s shoulder, can occur as a sign of attentiveness and friendliness.
  • Personal Space: During a conversation, personal space tends to be limited. Indeed, Argentines usually stand quite close to one another; less than an arm’s length apart is common. Standing or backing away from someone while speaking can be considered rude.
  • Eye Contact: Maintaining eye contact during conversation is believed to demonstrate a sense of honesty and interest in the person who is speaking. Direct eye contact may be interpreted as confrontational if the two people have not greeted each other yet.
  • Beckoning: The most common way to beckon someone is by extending an arm with one’s palm facing towards the sky and making a scratching motion with the fingers.
  • Gestures: It is common for Argentines to use hand gestures in daily conversation to accompany verbal conversation. However, some gestures have negative connotations. For example, placing one’s hands on their hips may be interpreted as seeking confrontation, and pointing with the index finger is considered rude.
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