How the Spaniards behave in company, and how you are expected to behave in Spain!
Living in Spain is one thing, hang out with Spanish people is another. Under the new concept of Europe, we are all alike! Not a chance! Possibly there are more similarities between a Chinese and an American than among Spaniards and other European nationalities. Unbelievable but true. Your Spanish neighbours, Spanish friends and the Spanish people that surrounds you when you are living in Spain
Spaniards always accepts local customs, if they are told how to behave, if not they behave like home! But they expect you to behave like them, without giving details: Watch and copy is the way! Spaniards are very friendly, happy, bad tempered, generous, loud, well-mannered, aggressive, emotional, modest, proud, charming, polite, rude, helpful and extremely intense creatures. Sounds impossible but Spaniards are like that, all at the same time!
Spaniards are really charming people, but sometimes difficult to understand and handle by those who never has had contact with the Spanish people and culture. In Spain people talk just to talk. Even if you have nothing to say anything is good enough to avoid what is considered to be embarrassing when in company: Silence!
The first impression of the Spaniards in everyday situations can make you find that Spanish people are impatient, a maybe a bit rude. But that is just a pose. A game. Spaniards always protest loud when something goes wrong or when they don't like the answer. But it is seldom that the situation is as serious as it sounds. It just is a way to express feelings, and to try to change the situation. When you become familiar with the way of handling problems in the Spanish way, you will discover that it can be very entertaining.
Spanish custom is to offer all guests the very best. It does not matter if it's Sunday dinner that unexpected guests will enjoy. Even if the family later in the evening has to eat bread and eggs. The generous character of the Spaniards is really shown when they have guests at home. But there is a procedure: They offer, you should decline, they offer again, you decline again..... Finally they insist so very many times that you finally accept: PLEASE, Just accept a small tapa, or a drink. If you accept to eat the family dinner or the very best ham they have in the fridge, they will hate you! Even if they spend more than a hour telling you to do so. To handle the situation: Just say that all you want is a glass of water!
Kisses on the cheeks are always used between women, men and women and when meeting children. The Spanish volatile small kisses on the cheeks to say hello are more a sound effect rather than a real kiss.
The Spanish way to say hello with two small kisses only means two very small, nearly without contact, cheek touches making the sound of a kiss with your lips. You are not supposed to really kiss your fiends cheek with your lips!
Men do not usually kiss each other. Shaking hands or patting each other on the back is the most common way to say hello between Spanish men who has not met for a while. It is becoming more common to "kiss" between men also, but the Spanish greeting kisses never means that lips meets lips. In Spain the "Hello" kiss is something like a theatrical gesture more than a real kiss.
Those who meet daily do not kiss each other to say hello every morning. Kisses are for people that you have not seen for a while, to say goodbye to someone that you will not meet for some time, or for someone that is being introduced to you for the first time.
Everyday greetings in Spain are only words: "Buenos días" - "Que Tal" etc. "Que Tal" is a question: How are you? But when said in Spanish it is not a question that expects an answer: "Que Tal" is like saying "HI". The same thing applies to the phrases and questions: "Que Pasa" and "Como Estas": If nothing more is said these short phrases only means hello and no concrete answer is expected: Fine and you, is the perfect answer. Do not expect the conversation to continue: Everyone feels fine!
Options when you really do not feel fine: "Aqui estamos" (Still here - Here we are) or "Vamos tirando" (Still trying to get along). The answer to that is none or just change and talk about weather, or anything else. The meaning of this phrases would be something like "Not to bad" or "It could be better".
If you meet a Spanish friend and the conversation turns into: Call me, we have to meet. Lets go out for dinner. No no no! That might mean call me, or it might also mean do not call me! If your friend really wants to have dinner with you he / she will ask you for your phone number, and he / she will call you back the same week.
Reverse: You have invited your Spanish friends and they did not accept with any kind of more or less logical excuse. Do not insist: If they want to see you they will feel very guilty not accepting your invitation and they will invite you the next time, and that is soon in this case. If they don't call you back, just forget it and look for new friends. In Spanish society it is unacceptable to refuse an invitation for no reason and any excuse is better than just saying no: We would love to, but .....
Forgive them, they just don't want to hurt your feelings! And remember not to keep any hard feelings because you thought that they where your friends, is Spain there are friends and different friends. One thing is to know someone and call him a friend and another thing is to really consider someone a friend. That is disregarding close and very close friends: that belongs to a different chapter. Even the close friends can be classified into different categories in Spain.