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By Joshua Tartakovsky, June 6, 2017
Having spent time in Barcelona and observing and seeking to understand the local mentality, some realizations dawned on me regarding the nuances of Iberian culture and the unique mindset. Due to Spain’s current profound economic crisis, the differences in mindset between Barcelona and Madrid on the one hand, and Berlin and Frankfurt on the other hand, can perhaps also explain why the current crisis is not likely to be resolved in a mutually beneficial for all sides manner.
To begin with, and to express it simply, while inevitably falling into some generalizations which are only proven by the exceptions, the Spanish mentality is to seek compromise, not seek confrontation, to be generous without seeking to gain a material price for everything given, to seek accomadation, most certainly not to humiliate the other. When in disagreement, Spainards prefer not to engage in an outright rejection, but explain in a slight way that there may be another option. Life is seen as a mystery to resolve, and finding new solutions that will be mutually beneficial are prized.
From the Spanish perspective, if you do someone a favor, at least you will get some kind of favor in return. That’s because Spainards deeply believe in community and family. From the perspective of the Germans, no matter how many favors you may do, a No will be a No, and that’s it. It’s the rigidity of the principle versus the matters of the heart.
Therefore, Spainards are nice to Germans and the English, thinking that the others will treat them fairly, but the others just take what they can, wonder why the Spainards are so stupid as for not to charge for towels and lockers in hostels, and that’s it.
Needless to say, the Spainard mentality also revolves around honor and dignity, and showing humiliation is negatively seen in society. Therefore people try to hide their shame regarding their own economic crisis, and fail to realize that unless they seek confrontation and fight back, they will be entirely subjugated by the Germans.
And so it is.