How to arrange to meet in Colombia

Example I

Me: ‘We should meet next week for lunch.’

Friend: ‘Great!’

M: When?!’

F: ‘Text me!’

M: ‘Let’s decide now.’

F: ‘I’ll call you!’

Well, that’s a no then..


Example II

F: ‘Let’s have coffee this Friday!’

M: ‘Ok great!’

Comes Friday..

M: ‘What time are we gonna meet?’

F: ‘Oh, I’ve been trying to reach you..’ (really?) ‘I have to take my kids to their football match so we have to meet another time. Que pena.’

Didn’t you know they were gonna have a match 3 days ago?


Lesson: Meeting with someone is actually talking about meeting. If you really want to meet up with someone here, you’ve got to triple confirm. It seems that now the problem does not happen exclusively to Colombians but also the foreigners here since they’ve (or we’ve?) got used to permanently staying in the stage of talking about meeting up. Without having done that means it’s not on. Full stop.

P.S. My rational reasoning that helps me avoid going mad living with this cultural practice is that Colombians are ‘present-focused’ people according to definitions of Phillip Zimbardo. Using his theory to explain Colombians’ behaviours, we can understand that they focus on the present instead of looking out to the future, so when they say ‘yes’ to an arrangement, they don’t realise that they’ve already got something planned for the same time slot! So if you want to up your rate of success in meeting with Colombians, try to encourage them to take out their calendar, and ask more questions about what they have planned etc. That might help.. (although that may not be at all effective either because a lot of them will only have a ‘mental calendar’, and an empty one on their phones..)


  1. […] me a ‘senior expat’ because most foreigners cannot stand more than 2 years of Colombian problems, a lot of which are featured here on this blog), the Colombian pride might have brushed off on me, […]

  2. […] many of you may have been stood up. As a foreigner I’ve now come to terms with this sort of phenomenon. Have you confirmed three times the date/meeting/appointment/event? Well, then it’s […]

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