Peruvian Culture

Communication

Verbal

  • Communication Style: Peruvians can be quite expressive and emotive in their communication. Conversations are often loud and accompanied by animated body language. There may also be multiple conversations occurring at once. There are rarely moments of silence in which more timid voices can interject. Although they can be quite energetic, Peruvians are usually sensitive and attentive listeners. Peruvians will often communicate in a quieter tone of voice if they are conversing with someone of higher social standing.
  • Indirect Communication: Peruvians generally seek to avoid conflict by communicating indirectly. Rather than complain, they will often show their best attitude in situations that may be painful or problematic. Peruvians tend to be diplomatic in what they say. They may also say what they think their conversation partner wishes to hear. Communication tends to become more direct once a strong relationship has developed.
  • Confrontation: Peruvians will often go to great lengths to avoid confrontation and maintain composure. If one is mad at their conversation partner, one may hold a prolonged silence lasting up to days. Conflict is usually addressed in private. Peruvians may be offended if the conflict or criticism is addressed in public.
  • Language Style: A key characteristic of Peruvian verbal communication is the use of diminutives and nicknames. Peruvians often call those they are close to by special names. For example, someone whose name is John may be known by his friends and family as Joncito. Meanwhile, some of his friends may use a nickname like Flaco (‘slim’) if he is tall and thin.
  • Formality: In Peru, 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 ‘ustedes’, ‘usted’ or ‘ud’). This is used when communicating with those of higher social ranking, such as age, education or employment. The informal ‘you' (known as ‘’) is generally used between people who know each other very well and among the youth. It is also becoming more common for the informal ‘you’ to be used in urban areas.
  • 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 Peruvians 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 of the same gender when talking, such as placing a hand on another’s shoulder or walking with arms linked, can also occur as a sign of friendliness and affection. Hugs are a very common gesture among friends. Generally, public displays of affection for couples, such as holding hands and kissing, are common among the younger generation.
  • Personal Space: Peruvians tend to stand quite close to one another; less than an arm’s length apart is common. It can be considered rude to back away from someone during a conversation.
  • Eye Contact: Peruvians prefer direct and constant eye contact. Maintaining eye contact is believed to demonstrate a sense of honesty, trust and respect. While Peruvians tend to hold eye contact, occasional diverting of eyes is common to avoid a prolonged gaze.
  • Gestures: In Peru, people tend to beckon by holding the palm of the hand down and waving all fingers towards themselves. Peruvians will often point to the direction of things with their lips.
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