Destination Spain: a cultural profile

A short guide to the most important factors to bear in mind when you decide to relocate to Spain, for a short time or for good.

First of all, remember that Spain is one of Europe’s oldest countries and it has been dominated by European politics and Catholicism for many centuries. This affects society and everyday life communications at different levels.

Also, there are several Spains (Castile, Andalucia, Galicia, Catalonia, the Basques): make sure you have an idea of where people’s allegiances are.

Body language: Spanish body language is among the most open of all cultures. Eye contact, exaggerated facial expressions, extensive use of hands, arms and shoulders are quite typical here.

Spaniards tend to observe you carefully and sum you up by watching your physical characteristics, your mannerisms and your willingness to participate in the socializing.  In contrast, they read on average less than any other Europea and pay little attention to the content of presentations.


Typical habits: The globalization, the European Union and the following obligation to align their business hours to the rest of the world are causing the typical ‘siesta’ to decline, at least in multinational companies.

However, local businesses still follow this after-lunch two hours rest, although is becoming less popular in big cities such as Barcelona and Madrid.

Relationship building in Spain is nearly always blended with eating and drinking.

There is very typic Spanish word which describes this feature: “sobremesa” literally means “on the table¨and refers to all the informal chitchatting that happens after dining.


Work&time: Normally, the working day is not an unbroken period of concentrated effort, like it is in northern European or North American countries.

Coffee breaks, non-work conversations with colleagues and long meetings that stray into social affairs are all seen by the Spanish as valid parts of the working culture.

Spaniards are generally multi-active, not linear-active, again in contrast with northern Europeans and North Americans.

In short, this means that the more things they can do or handle at the same time, the happier and more fulfilled they feel.


Next Door BCN is a typical Spain-born company but with a strong international orientation. We find all these observations quite accurate, but, obviously, things are changing quite fast.

What do you think? Have you lived or worked in Spain?



Adapted from:








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