Chilean Culture



  • Communication Style: Chileans can be quite expressive and emotive in their communication. At times, they may interrupt others when speaking when overcome by their passion or interest in the conversation topic. There may be two or three discussion topics going around a group with people joining in and leaving each conversation at different points.
  • Indirect Communication: Despite their expressive way of verbally communicating, Chileans generally tend to avoid conflict or confrontation. In conversation, they will often gradually shift the topic towards something they would like to discuss. Chileans also tend to tell their conversation partner what they think you want to hear so as to avoid conflict or causing offence.
  • Language Style: Chileans may refer to words in their diminutive form by adding the suffix ‘ito’ for males or ‘ita’ for females at the end of a word. This is used to express familiarity and affection towards a thing or person. For example, a cafe may be referred to as ‘cafecito’.
  • Chilean Spanish: Chilean Spanish is also considerably different from what is spoken in neighbouring countries. Chileans generally speak quite fast, use different intonations and rhythms, and often use Chilean slang (‘chilenismos’). There is also a tendency to drop the letters ‘d’ and ‘s’ from words.
  • Formality: In Chile, different forms of expression indicate the level of courtesy and formality. The polite form of speech is to address people in the formal form of ‘you' (known as ‘usted’). This is used irrespective of your conversation partner's social status. The informal ‘you' (known as ‘’) is generally used between people who know each other very well and among the youth.
  • Humour: Many Chileans enjoy sharing jokes and introducing humour into conversations. Chilean humour usually involves making jokes towards the shortcomings of themselves or others. At the same time, they will try to minimise any possible offence that this may cause.
  • 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?).



  • Physical Contact: Chileans tend to be quite people. It is normal for people to touch another person’s arm or back during conversation. Physical contact with someone of the same gender when talking, such as placing a hand on another’s shoulder, can occur as a sign of attentiveness and friendliness. Public displays of affection between couples (such as holding hands and kissing) are also usually acceptable.
  • Personal Space: Chileans 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: Chileans prefer eye contact. Maintaining eye contact is believed to demonstrate a sense of honesty and interest in the person who is speaking. During conversations, they tend to sustain eye contact.
  • Listening: At times, Chileans may be somewhat nervous listeners since they wish to break in, but they often avoid doing so to remain polite. However, it is not uncommon for Chileans to interject while someone is speaking.
  • Beckoning: Beckoning with the hand or a single finger is considered to be rude. Typically, one does not beckon people with hand gestures.
  • Hand Gestures: Excessive hand gestures are avoided. One common gesture is to use one’s index finger and shake it back and forth to indicate “No” or that something is unacceptable. Clicking your fingers to or at someone is considered rude.

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