Monday, July 26, 2010

Mexican Taboos

In Mexico a lot of what we consider honesty, they consider blunt, rude, and down-right abrasive. Mexicans feel attacked by our straight talk.

1. I Don’t Know

Mexicans don’t really like it when I say, “I don’t know.” They feel betrayed because saying “I don’t know” isn’t being honest (as you might think if you are from North America); it’s ignoring their obvious need for an answer. It’s completely unsupportive and rude. When faced with a question to which they don’t know the answer, many Mexicans invent an answer in order to be polite.

Mexicans WILL NOT say “I don’t know” they will avoid being rude by MAKING SOMETHING UP. The good thing is that with time you will learn to tell when they are making something up and when they actually know.
The main clue is that when they are making something up, they tend to be very vague. It’s hard to describe how to tell. Possibly, there is some subtle body language that goes along with this. I can’t really explain it to you, but with time you too will be able to tell the difference.
When you suspect that someone is avoiding those three (well, in Spanish they are two) tercultural-differences-retire-mexico-loaning.htmlrible words, the best course of action is to go and ask someone else. Sometimes you need to ask three people and sort of take the average of what they say.

2. No

Another honest word that you are not allowed to use in Mexico is “NO.” Since saying “no” is a no-no in Mexico people rarely use this word. Instead people just say “yes,” albeit more vaguely.
So, you quickly learn that you are obligated to say “yes”—even when you don’t mean it. At first you will probably feel like you are lying, but if you know how to say “no” like a Mexican (that is to not say no at all) it will become much more comfortable for you. When interacting with others tune in to when they are being vague and take note of the hedge words they use. By observing others you can build a “no saying” dictionary that will allow you to maintain good relationships with friends and acquaintances and yet remain true to your own cultural values of not lying to people.
When you are in a situation in which you want to say “no,” STOP YOURSELF. Try to say “yes” first, then add something that keeps things very vague. If saying “yes” feels too much like you are lying right to someone’s face then just give lots of excuses and say “thank you” over and over. Try to use your dictionary of hedge words that you pick up from observing others.

3. Running in the street

Apparently running in the street is taboo for Mexican women. My Mexican husband is embarrassed if I run in the street. If I jog to clear an intersection or sprint to catch the bus.

Most Mexican women walk as if someone important is looking at them; as if that someone would judge them for hurrying, acting important or having a hair out of place. A few Mexican women dress in figure-showing clothes and they want their sex appeal to be noticed so they through their shoulders back and let their hips wag.
Still, that’s not the same athletic, ground-eating walk that North American women employ. North American women often stride. Even if they are wondering aimlessly, they let their bodies move more, they don’t act shy, and finally, they slouch more.


  1. Hey no offense but this information is not very accurate,
    everyone I grew up around is Mexican, & I also have relatives who currently live in Mexico
    Please don't get offended
    1.If anybody in my family Doesn't know something they all answer what they do know and politely say sorry
    2.When they want to say no they just say "no" or "no thank you"
    3.Im really dont know about this one :P my mom runs sometimes soo idk...

  2. Please no offense but your information is completely out of context, yet there might be a context in which it will apply but I consider it would be greatly appreciated if you make clear such point, and the thing I found quite shocking was that all these ideas are not even taboos.

    A real taboo would consist of topics related to indentity, religion, politics, family, friends and so on, typical manners not random experiences, cheers and good luck.

    a Mexican.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.