Did you know that Hispanics now make up 18% of the total U.S. population? Yet, Hispanic and Latino labels are sociolinguistic and geographical – not racial. It is difficult to generalize the Latino population; it is far more diverse than one might think.
There are over 57 million people who identified as Hispanic in the U.S.(Statistics according to Pew Research, 2015) Recent studies estimate that there are over 470 million native Spanish speakers throughout the world, with over 52 million people in the U.S. who are either native speakers or are bilingual. (According to the Instituto Cervantes, 2015) Understanding cultural norms is no longer optional, it needs to be an integral part of all professional development and market strategy.
(Image from www.SpanishSEO.org, 2008)
Here are 3 Tips for conducting business with Hispanics / Latinos:
- Some speak Spanish. Some don’t. Some are white, some are brown, some are black.
- Some are European, not all. Some are from Mexico, not all. Some are from caribbean islands. Some were born in the U.S., some were born in Latin America.
- Many are of mixed mestizo or mulatto ethnicities.
- Most consider themselves American (North America, Central America, South America = America = American)
Número Dos: Do build relationships!
- Always greet with a sincere Good morning! Good afternoon! Hello, How are you? – whether it is via email, text message, phone or in person!
- Allow time to get to know your colleague, employee or client – you will be far more effective. Keep current with their lives & your business will flourish.
- Ask lots of open-ended questions.
Número Tres: Do provide positive feedback!*
- With Latinos, you will catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
- We all love compliments, but Latinos are motivated to please and love to make people happy. Provide strong, positive feedback for performance without a “but” and you will find an immediate correlation to their work or response times.
- In general terms, blame is passive in the Spanish language. Criticism should be collective or passive (ex: “This project isn’t moving along as effectively as we’d like.” vs. “YOU haven’t met this deadline.” Or “WE need to firm up our target dates so we can deliver to the client on time.”)
#3 is tricky and I will be writing a blog just on this dynamic principle of constructive criticism from a cultural perspective. It will change the way you relate and improve your bottom line.*
We all know that the United States is a diverse society. In every metropolitan area you will find people from almost every corner of the world. Our demographics are shifting, the ethnic population of the U.S. is up 10% over the last 20 years. It is estimated that the combined minority population will surpass 50% within the next generation. Now is the time to embrace cultural understanding and integration. Our social, political, and economic future depends on it.
If your company is in the Metro Detroit or Chicago areas and would like Puente Cultural Integration to provide consulting, cross-cultural or diversity training for your staff or you are in need of Spanish language services, please contact Bridget@puenteci.com for a quote.*