What Anglos should know about Hispanics

Many dairies in the U.S. benefit from employing hispanics. yet, sometimes, producers complain how
hard it is to manage people of other cultures.

Taking time to understand each other’s culture can improve relationships, communication, and
performance. Here are some significant cultural things that Anglos should know about Hispanics.

1. Relationships. Hispanic cultures place a major emphasis on interpersonal relationships. Hispanics want to know and understand who their friends and co-workers are and how they are feeling; they want to be able to share in their struggles and joys. Anglos should recognize this and be sure to take a few moments to greet and talk.

2. Group harmony. Hispanics tend to focus on group harmony rather than the success of individuals. This is sometimes why individuals don’t want to take a promotion. It is also why caution should be used to avoid harshly criticizing or humiliating individuals because it can upset the group.

3. Individual identities. Anglos sometimes tend to refer to Hispanic workers as a group. This is OK some times, but not all the time. Anglo managers must work at building relationships with individual Hispanic employees. This is the only way to build trust and effective work relationships.

4. Touch. Most Hispanics are more comfortable with physical touch than Anglos, and Hispanics tend to need less personal space. Many Hispanics will greet each other with a handshake or pat on the back, perhaps multiple times in one day. These behaviors are signs of friendship and respect. Less need for personal space means that Hispanics are willing to sit or stand closer together than their Anglo counterparts.

5. Eye contact. Children in Hispanic cultures are sometimes taught to avoid eye contact as a sign of respect for adults. This respectful behavior carries over into the relationship with the supervisor. Just because a Hispanic employee does not make eye contact with you does not necessarily imply evasiveness, shame, or inattention; it could simply be out of shyness, embarrassment, or as a sign of respect for you.

6. Patriotism, religion and holidays. Hispanic people tend to be very proud of their culture and heritage. Each country in Latin America celebrates the day it gained independence from its colonial rulers. Religious and national holidays are faithfully observed as well.

7. Safety. Many Hispanic workers do not have much experience with the many dangers that can be found on a dairy farm. It is critical to provide training on the hazards posed by animals, chemicals, machinery, electrical equipment, feed storage, and manure systems found on the farm. Don’t assume “common sense” is shared by those with different experiences and backgrounds from your own.

8. Tone of voice, body language. Hispanic people tend to read a great deal of meaning into how things are said and other cues sent by your gestures, facial expression, and posture (body language). Gruff or loud tones can be interpreted as anger. Your voice and body language can change when you are impatient or in a hurry, and Hispanics might believe that you are upset with them for apparently no reason; this can harm relationships. Make sure that the non-verbal messages you send match the message you are speaking.

9. Leadership. Hispanic society is more rigidly divided by class and hierarchy than American society. Hispanics expect people in responsible positions to make decisions and provide leadership. It is a good practice to ask for input and ideas from Hispanic workers, but managers are expected to make and follow through on decisions and communicate expectations clearly.

What Hispanics should know about Anglos

Hispanic employees sometimes have a difficult time understanding anglo managers and co-workers because of cultural differences. Improving your understanding of Anglo culture will help you to communicate and build relationships with Anglos in your workplace and community. Here are some significant cultural things that Hispanics should know about Anglos

1. Work first. Anglos do care about their friends and co-workers, but they don’t feel as much need to build and maintain relationships. Anglos often want to get the work done first and limit socializing to moments when there is a break in the work.

2. Individualism. Much of the American character is founded on individual achievement. From childhood, Anglos are encouraged to learn to do things all on their own. Success is often measured by how much one person can do with as little help as possible. Americans are very proud of their rugged individualism and pioneer spirit.

3. Women in the workplace.  Anglo culture and society teaches men and women to be equals in the workplace. Women can pursue careers as dairy managers, and they expect to be treated with respect in that role. If you have a female manager, you should interact with that person in the same way you would interact with a man in the same position.

4. Touch. Anglos are usually less comfortable with physical touch than Hispanics. Anglos often limit handshaking to special occasions. Hugs are usually restricted to very close friends and family; some families hug each other rarely.

5. Talking. Many Anglos, especially men, limit their talking to the business that needs to be done. Anglos are not trying to be rude when they focus on business at the beginning of a conversation. When talking with Anglos, try taking care of business first and then engaging in friendly conversation after the business is complete.

6. Eye contact and body language. Children in Anglo cultures are taught to make eye contact with adults as a sign of respect. It is common for a parent to say to a child, “Look at me when I’m talking to you.” When a person an Anglo is talking with avoids making eye contact, this can be interpreted negatively — the Anglo might think that the person is hiding something or ashamed of something that they did. Most Anglos pay less attention to gestures, facial expression, and posture (body language) as a part of communication; they emphasize spoken words more. 

7. Learning and attitude. Most Anglos place a high priority on learning. If you do not understand parts of your job, it is OK to ask for help. When you show interest and enthusiasm for learning more about your job and the dairy industry, most Anglos will see this as a sign of a valuable employee. Learning English makes you especially valuable and will give you more opportunities in your career in the U.S. 

8. Health care. Anglos generally believe in taking care of injuries or sickness as soon as possible. Good medical and dental care can prevent small problems from becoming large or life-threatening problems. If you are sick or injured, let your supervisor know if you need help. In the case of injury, let your supervisor know how it happened so that any dangerous situations can be corrected.

Whether you plan to stay in the U.S. for a few years or for a long time, learning the culture will help you succeed.  Share this article with people from the other culture in your workplace.