Being polite when visiting Mexico

PoliteAs travelers we need to make sure that your manners don’t interfere with our vacation. If you like to “blend in” and not look like a tourist while exploring Mexico, speaking Spanish is not enough. Plus you don’t exactly want to be the cold and unmannered traveler, do you?

Mexicans are a very polite and formal people so they also demand politeness from people they come into contact with. They’ll gladly help you with everything but not if you are rude, demanding and what everything “right now”.

Several words that go a long way

You don’t have to speak perfect Spanish but remember the following:

  • “Gracias” (thank you) and “por favor” (please) should always be used when thanking for something or when asking for something.
  • “Con su permiso” (with your permission) should be used when you excuse yourself from a social or work encounter
  • “Buenas Dias” (good morning), “Buenas Tardes” (good afternoon) or “Buenas Noches” (good evening) are used to greet when you enter a room. You have to greet first, no matter if you know the people in the room or not. The typical American way of just going in and saying nothing (or at most “hi” to friends) is considered cruel and impolite in Mexico.
  • “Señor” (mister), “Señora” (madam) and “Señorita” (miss) should be used when addressing people in Mexico. Being formal is normal and Mexico and unless told otherwise by your Mexican friend, you shouldn’t talk to them without using their title. Likewise, when in business meetings, make sure to use the titles (such as “profesor(a)” or “doctor(a)”)

Learn Spanish in Mexico: Native speaking tutors help you to improve your Spanish skills.


Americans learn that it’s not harmful to brag a bit when possible. Mexicans think that’s embarrassing. Likewise, Mexicans rarely talk about their house. Modesty and humility are expected of educated Mexicans, so make sure to do the same.

Mexicans avoid conflicts rather than being assertive. So instead of wanting everything “right now” try to be more respectful and don’t expect of Mexicans to answer your question directly. In other words, learn to read between the lines. Needless to say, being arrogant, inflexible and impatient won’t get you anywhere: either as a tourist or as a business traveler.

Your personal space might get invaded while in Mexico. They are used to staying close to each other when talking so be careful if you are sensitive to this (don’t step back or you’ll give the impression that you don’t want to be near the person).

Unless you are on a nudist beach or in a nudist-friendly resort, nudity is not accepted. So if you plan to jog in your skimpy outfit, think again and plan to add a tank top over that sports bra ( needless to say that a man shouldn’t exercise only in his shorts).