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Culture 101: Customs and Etiquettes in Venezuela

The beautifully diverse South American country of Venezuela is one of the most urbanized countries in Latin America.

Like its Hispanic counterparts, Venezuelan culture is rich in traditions built on family, friends, community and of course religion.

When visiting Venezuela, here are customs and etiquettes to keep in mind.

Dining and Table Manners·      Arrive 15 to 30 minutes late when invited to a Venezuelan home. Arriving early may imply that you are too eager and may be interpreted as greed.

·      Always accept an offer of coffee. It is a symbol of hospitality to Venezuelans.

·      Wait to be seated by your host/hostess.

·      Wait for the others to be seated before eating, unless your host encourages you. “Buen provecho,” which means “Enjoy or have a good meal!” is the customary invitation for everyone to start eating.

Gender and Family

·      As a foreign woman, prepare to be at the receiving end of a lot of attention—sometimes aggressive—from local men. Be firm yet friendly to gain their respect.

·      Women are still expected to do most of the household chores.

·      The family is the most important unit in the social structure. It is common for family members to live in close proximity of one another.

·      Nepotism is an accepted practice because hiring trustworthy people is paramount.

Doing Business

·      Venezuelans, like their Hispanic counterparts, tend to be risk-averse so establishing trust should be the first order of business.

·      Avoid scheduling meetings on a Friday afternoon because it may interfere with early plans for the weekend. Similarly, avoid scheduling meetings close to holidays like Christmas, Carnival and Easter.

·      A minimal amount of small talk is to be expected before getting down to actual business. This is especially common with older and more senior Venezuelans.

·      It is okay if someone interrupts you while speaking during a business meeting. This happens a lot and is, in fact, considered acceptable.

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