Chilean Culture

Greetings

  • Greetings in Chile are very important because they emphasise that an individual is acknowledged and welcomed.
  • When greeting someone in a formal setting or for the first time, people typically shake hands with those of the same gender. However, this can vary between social classes.
  • The ‘abrazo’ is the most common greeting among friends and family. This consists of a handshake and a hug. Among family and friends they are not so close to, they will simply give a kiss on the right cheek.
  • When male friends perform an abrazo, they may lightly slap each other’s back when hugging.
  • The abrazo is repeated with each individual when one leaves a small social gathering.
  • Men will often wait for a woman to extend her hand before shaking it.
  • Direct eye contact is also important when greeting someone.
  • Try to greet the head of the household or the most senior person first as a sign of respect.
  • Address a person by their title if you know it. If no title exists, then simply use "Señor” for men or “Señora” for women followed by their surname.
  • First names are used among friends and family. Wait until invited to move to a first-name basis before addressing your counterpart by their first name.
  • When addressing older people with whom you have a personal relationship, it is common to refer to them as “don” (for male) or “doña” (for females) followed by their first name.
  • Typical phrases that accompany greetings include, “Buenos días” (“Good morning”), “Buenas tardes” (Good afternoon”) and “Buenas noches” (“Good evening”).
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