In the professional workplace there are customs that are very different than the American work culture. Personal space, speaking without a filter, and ambiguity are the big factors that vary form the United States. Some may say the previous aspects are negative but in some instances the no filter and personal space are actually useful when trying to get a point across.
The Spanish workforce, in my opinion, is a social setting within itself. There are staunch similarities that they both share, the largest similarity is the lack of filter. When I walk in with 2 hamburgers, salad, and fruit for lunch I don’t get a lot of looks, rather I get comments saying I’m going to die if I keep eating like that, I will get fat, and I’d better be careful. In the United States I doubt I would receive comments to my face, rather than just looks of judgements. Many people would view this as rude, but I have Spanish family so I was not phased in the slighests because I have gotten those comments my whole life. I also think there is a benefit of the no filter in Spain. For example, when my boss wants something different, or very specific, she will lay it out very soim[ly and I will know her expectations right then and there. In the States, my boss would tell me to do something and if I completed the task differently than she would have liked, she would probably look at me funny, tank me for her work and make her changes herself. Here they are not afraid to let you know you messed up. I hope that is an aspect that I can bring back to the United States.
It seems as though the Spanish are very, very comfortable with their odors and the smell of their breath. When having a conversation, the men seem to straddle the women wherever they may be, in the park, metro, or just one the street. There have also been instances where I could have sworn a fight was about to break out because there were two men grabbing each other arm standing practically on top of each other and talking very animated. When the conversation ended the two men laughed and exited the train without any sense of hostility. When I begin a conversation with someone, I usually have a few feet in between us, because that’s what grew up with. However, here people approach you and touch you and don’t think anything of it. When I arrived I was hesitant to allow people to come close because I was scared of what they were going to do, but now I embrace the lack of space and just ensure I smell good!! Personal space is a thing of the imagination to those who live here.
Socializing is the most useful habit of work that I hope to bring back. There are many professional habit also but the aspect I value most about the Spanish workplace is their ability to socialize while getting meaningful work done. I do not mean blowing off work to gossip with your friends, rather integrating regular human interaction while working. I thrive off of energy and dialog with others. In Spain they are able to have conversations throughout the day, maintaining their connections, all while making great progress on their work. For me, If I sit behind a desk all day and talk to no one I will eventually get bored and distract myself with various unessential tasks. However if I am able to have a conversation for a quick minute, and talk about something interesting, I will be far more productive in the long run.
Ambiguity: The hardest thing for me is deciding when the expectation changes from one woman to the next. A few of the ladies do not expect much, the bare minimum, which I can handle with ease. I know this because a few of the ladies once thought using a few formulas in excel was above and beyond their expectations and I thought they were necessary for the project at hand. There are a few that expect a lot more, to go in-depth and analyze multiple references to pick out the best options for their Hostel. Although the expectations are different for each of the women, the quality of work does not change.
I hope to leave the ambiguity here, but bring the socializing, and reduced filter back to the United States.