Telling You What You Want To Hear

This is also known as lying to you and it’s an institution here in Mexico.

Ever since I moved to Mexico I’ve been noticing that people would tell me one thing and then go off and do another. This happens with construction workers, with acquaintances, with store employees, it happens all through out society here from what I can see. The first few times it happened to me I was incredulous. Surely being culturally sensitive to and adapting to my new country didn’t mean I had to put up with this kind of bullshit?!? Ah, but it did.

After a few years I began to see that people here tell you what you want to hear because it’s polite. Or because it would be impolite to tell you what you don’t want to hear. Either way it amounts to people saying things are possible when they are not, and telling you that they will make things happen which won’t ever happen.

Recently my husband and I had two experiences back to back in which we were the very frustrated victims of people here telling us what we want to hear.

In one case numerous Bancomer bank employees promised us something over and over, which in the end, after waiting patiently for 4 weeks, didn’t happen. When we challenged the bank, telling them that x, y, z employees had told us this would happen Bancomer came back with “let’s review it again, it should happen,” which leads to another 3 week review process (which we are still in the middle of). At this point I’m just about certain that Bancomer’s strategy is to wear us out so we give up the fight.

We had another experience where we hired an attorney to do some work for us. There were 2 possible routes to resolving our legal issue. One route involved a slow-as-molasses process that involves filing gobs of papers with the Cancun city government. We decided against this route because the lawyer stated that his other proposed route would net results much faster. We met with the attorney on a Friday and he said he could do the needed work the following Monday. That was over 3 weeks ago. And so far the lawyer hasn’t done the work we’ve paid him for. But does he tell us what’s going on? No, he tells us what we want to hear (when he answers the phone).

Now I appreciate that people do not want to hurt me by having to tell me things are not possible. I appreciate that being the bearer of bad news is not polite in Mexico. But where I come from NOT telling people the reality of their situation is extremely impolite. And lying to people is RUDE. So it has been a big adjustment for me to learn not to just get mad when I find someone telling me just what I want to hear. I’ve learned not to believe things until I see them. And I’ve learned to listen for a “yes” that comes to easily.

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10 Responses to “Telling You What You Want To Hear”

  1. Gary Denness
    April 11th, 2009 20:48

    Oh it’s just so true, and so infuriating!

  2. jonna
    April 11th, 2009 23:53

    Yeah, I may never adapt to this one. I find it hard to even understand the motivation for it or how anyone ever figures out the truth, maybe they just don’t care. I do think though that there are some secret signals that pass that let them know if it is just BS or for real. I tell you, whenever I hear ‘lo que pasa es’ I just want to tell them to shut up that I don’t want to hear the lie.

  3. Theresa in Mérida
    April 12th, 2009 08:48

    I think that in the case of the lawyer, he found out that his idea was going to be more trouble (ie more work) than he originally thought, so he is putting it off. Of course, we have been involved in a lawsuit here for ummm 3 years? and finally changed lawyers because the first one started out a ball of fire and then just stopped doing anything except lie to us.
    We have decided that whenever anyone says in 15 days,it means never or we don’t know when.
    I had a book on order at Dante,they said it should be in stock in about (you guessed it!) 15 days, after a month of looking,I found it at another book sellers, after 3 months the original librería called and told me it was in.

  4. Pablo Puga
    April 12th, 2009 21:23

    It’s a shame, that we, mexicans are that way. I hate it. I don’t undertand why, people can’t say a simple NO or tell that is going to take X or Y time to solve, build, create, fix, etc. something. They always give you “Fantasy dates” or try “kindly” to give you answers or solutions for something that need something else. It’s a shame. And almost every mexican I know, hates it. But, why we keep doing it? And telling, “al ratito” or “tomorrow” when it will be several weeks later?

    Good luck solving your issues.

  5. Gopal
    April 13th, 2009 01:57

    That’s like India 🙂
    No wonder Columbus thought that he was in India when he landed in the New World.

  6. RiverGirl
    April 13th, 2009 12:15

    Thanks for the comments everyone.

    Jonna – I agree…when I hear the words “lo que pasa es…” I brace myself for B.S. I guess that as my understanding of Mexican culture increases that I will detect the lies sooner. I just wish I didn’t have to learn to detect lies.

    Teresa – I wish it was that simple with the lawyer here. But I think it’s more convoluted. I think his method is simple, but he’s really, really busy and seems to be terrible about realistic planning.

    Pablo – Certainly not all Mexicans are like this. My husband is rarely like this, in fact he can be brutally honest to a fault. But it does make it hard for foreigners to learn how to do business with Mexico when so many businesses in Mexico can’t just tell you what to expect or when to expect it.

    Gopal – I have not been to India yet. But I have seen a little of this trait in some Indians I’ve done business with. (Your photos are beautiful.)

  7. islagringo
    April 13th, 2009 17:34

    It’s not the fantastic lawyer that we otherwise all love is it?

  8. Pablo Puga
    April 13th, 2009 17:54

    I agree. Sorry, you are more than right, not all the mexicans are like that. They are a few of us that don’t. But almost everyone are like that. Have a great week RiverGirl. Saludos.

  9. RiverGirl
    April 13th, 2009 18:12

    Isla Gringo – No this is not our local hero the immigration attorney, this is a shark of a lawyer that we’ve hired to help with a dispute with the neighbors who live upstairs from our rental condo. They have a leaking pipe and refuse to fix it, so our tenant is living with perpetual leaks from upstairs.

    Pablo – It’s certainly enough of a regular thing in Mexico that I felt I could make a generalization about it, unfortunately.

    April 13th, 2009 20:26

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