Source: World Bank
The Ecuadorian Communication Style
Ecuadorians are known for being warm and polite. They can be quite tactile and tend to stand much closer to each other when speaking than in many other cultures. As a result they are highly tuned to body language and non-verbal communication.
Ecuadorians need information in order to make their minds up on someone. As a result they will ask probing questions in order to assess how open, trustworthy or reliable you may be. One should not take this negatively or as an intrusion but rather be forthcoming with information.
If you are from a culture is less reliant on relationships, trust and non-verbal cues then you need to watch what messages you may, or may not, be giving. Being distant on protective over personal information would be construed as being rude and closed.
A good way of overcoming the initial deliberations your Ecuadorian counterpart may have is through using an intermediary to introduce you. This acts as a reference for your credibility.
Ecuadorians are indirect communicators who speak diplomatically and with courtesy. They view blunt communication as extremely rude. If they want someone to do something, they will generally flatter the person so that it would then be difficult for them not to agree. Ecuadorians are non-confrontational and will go out of their way to avoid saying no. In fact, they will generally tell you what they think will please you rather than what they actually plan to do. They are also optimistic and have a positive outlook on life. They prefer to see the glass as half full and try to make the best of any situation.
As a visitor you may get by without speaking Spanish as senior personnel are usually fluent in English. It is however a good idea to learn some basic phrases to demonstrate an appreciation of their language. Some funny phrases can also help break the ice.
Ecuadorians are essentially concerned with the people they are doing business with not the company. As a result they will spend time talking about issues that have nothing to do with business. This should be viewed as relationship building time and indulged in as much as possible. Wait for your counterparts to instigate a change in topics.
Avoid confrontation and be careful not to embarrass people or public place them in awkward positions. Calling attention to someone’s error demonstrates a lack of finesse. Never let someone think that you do not trust them; since trust and personal relationships are the cornerstone of business you must ensure that this is solid.
A person’s word is his bond. Never make promises you cannot keep.