10 Years of Blog Archive

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

5 Rules for Getting Your Way with Ecuadorians

Behaving ugly will not get you your way in Ecuador.  It might in the U.S but here, no. Admittedly, we’re all human and make mistakes from time to time because we're not able to hold our patience at the moment due to other pressures, and some of us might behave kind a ugly, but only for the moment and we realize we are not being nice and we change our stance the next time around.  
My way or the highway!

However, some of us are just ugly all the time. Ugly people end up leaving Ecuador because they brought ugliness with them, are generally already unhappy and stressed and therefore it is mirrored back to them.

First Rule – Don’t Be Ugly

We shouldn’t behave ugly; instead we should behave kindly but assertively.  Have you ever heard the saying, “You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar”?  It’s true. When you are sweet as honey the flies literally come swarming towards you with gusto. What happens when you are ugly like vinegar? People stop listening. 

Of course we shouldn’t behave phony either; we must remember to behave with people in the way we would want for them to behave with us.

When we need to talk to Ecuadorians about anything, we first greet them with kindness and then ask about their family. We usually find something endearing and genuinely positive to say about that person or family. Ecuadorians generally are, especially when it comes to family, commendable people. This is not done out of fake flattery or praise so we can get our way, but is the way people are actually supposed to behave towards one another in life…something that too many folks have forgotten this day and age.

Instead of behaving nasty and rude when we don’t get our way, behave like a decent person. Explain your situation and get your point across with assertiveness not aggressiveness; big difference here. We do need to be assertive; otherwise we are more apt to be taken advantage of.        Next…

Second Rule – Compromise

Let's work together and bridge the gap!
I learned this about marriage but it extends to all relationships. If the ‘give and take’ aspect of a marriage is unequally balanced the marriage will fall when storms come. Sure, one spouse can take up the slack for awhile but that gets tiresome after awhile.

Imbalance in a relationship just means someone is going to get the short end of the stick. It may work for a time, but after awhile it will wane. Life is all about give and take and there is no “real” relationship without fair compromise.

This is why gringo gouging does not work with principled people,
no matter how much money they may have.  It’s not about the money, it’s about the principle! It works when you are a tourist because it is expected that you will pay more, but a full-time resident should not have to pay more for food, rent and services!

Compromise by buying more or by going to that same seller…explain to them this is what you will be doing if they don’t gouge you on the price.  Compromise = Give and Take.       Next…

Rule Three – Be Nicely Persistent

Recently we spent hours and days over a period of weeks and months trying to get a letter and some packages that we have not received from the Ecuador postal system. We’ve learned a lot from this.  We learned nothing is what it seems. Talk is cheap and that actions speak a whole lot louder than appeasing words ever could. This is not meant to be disparaging but reality of how it really is.

The two girls in the Cuenca post office keep telling us to be patient (6 months later) and that it is Quito’s postal systems fault why we haven’t gotten our letter sized parcel and that it is the customs office fault why we have not received our packages.  We have been patient, that’s the whole point. Just because we’re tenacious doesn’t mean we’re not patient.

We are persistent and they need to know that. We’re not going to go away. Perhaps they think that after 6 months we’re going to forget about our important mail. We’re kind, we smile, we even hug them, we never yell and scream; we’re never ugly but we are persistent and we are going to be coming back!

We have learned while living in Ecuador is that ‘hoping for change’ instead of ‘trying to change’ is all we can ask for.  I just want my mail.  Such a normal sounding request.  Well then, what's the problem?  Please give me my mail.  The mail belongs to the recipient, not the post office.

We stopped buying things we need and we just go without. You can do that when you set your mind to it.          Next…

Rule Four – Don’t Act Superior

We all know that no human, no matter how much money, power, or skin color they have is superior to another human being; that’s just downright egotistic thinking.  I learned that a long time ago in first grade, when public schools actually taught ethics and values. Am I really that old?

Rule Five – Live and Let Live or Be Unhappy Trying

  • Don’t forget, we can catch more flies with honey than we can with vinegar, so be the honey. Smile a lot, all the while behaving assertively gentle and persistent.

  • Expecting things to be different is an unhealthy way to look at undesirable aspects of life abroad, instead, take each day as it comes. The more we expect the more disappointed we will become.
  • Never take what someone says written in stone, just see it when you see it and then you’ll know it to be true. Patience is a virtue, even though sometimes you may be waiting for nothing to materialize.
  • We realize that a character flaw, such as telling fibs or lies to appease you with words is done out of kindness rather than harm.  There is so much of this in Ecuador and South and Central America that we just smile, laugh, have fun, and take it all in, all the while not considering a word of it.
  • We’re the foreigner in a land that is foreign to us and many of us are used to doing things a certain way or having things done a certain way.  But we’re the new guy in town and if we want to be happy, live and let live then we need to tolerate a different way, not push our way into town.  If we can share a better way because it was asked for, that is altogether a different story. 

  • Following any or all of these rules does not necessarily mean we will get our way, but it does mean we behaved kindly, principled and respectfully, which is really all we're after here. 

Until we write again.

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We're an Expat Family of Five, Living Frugal, Healthy and Happy Abroad. We live in Cuenca, Ecuador and travel the Ecuador coast whenever we get a chance. We just adventured throughout the country of Panama for five weeks! Come along and enjoy some of our experiences with us!

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