We have previously mentioned the importance of being able to speak Spanish in the world and particularly throughout the Americas from a business perspective.
First of all, if you are attempting to do business in Spanish, do not attempt it without an interpreter present unless you are fluent.
Do I Use A Formal or Informal Greeting?
I have seen various blogs and articles about learning a new language that are critical about programs I have featured such as Pimsleur, Fluenz, Rosetta Stone and Living Language that teach Spanish in a fairly formal manner, i.e. addressing someone as Mister or Miss, using the formal word for “you” (usted) instead of the informal (tu) – their justification being that most people don’t talk like that anymore. Well, I can tell you from personal experience that when it comes to the workplace or business settings they are absolutely wrong!
You go to a business meeting, to a government office, bank or even go to meet the family of a girlfriend or boyfriend – you will probably initially be addressed as señor or señora, they will use the formal word for “you” and they will generally expect you to do the same. If you are learning the language for employment reasons, failure to use the formal expressions won’t get you fired, but in various cases it will irritate them and some will consider it disrespectful, so don’t start off on the wrong foot.
Meetings should be arranged by prior appointment. As a foreigner, you are expected to be punctual for your meeting, but don’t be surprised in some Latin American countries if this is not reciprocated!
Business relationships are important everywhere, but in Latin America the personal aspect carries much more weight. High pressure tactics are frowned upon and you can expect to attend more than one meeting in person before much progress seems to be made as decisions generally cannot be rushed.
Also, generally business dealings are more formal in Latin America and going to such a meeting dressed in shorts will be frowned upon, as will wearing muscle shirts, spaghetti straps, etc. also many government offices will forbid people entering dressed as such. For a business meeting both men and women should dress conservatively – men don’t necessarily need to wear a tie but in many cases it may be advisable. My advice is, time permitting beforehand, go check out the offices of your planned meeting to see how people are dressed.
Business cards should be exchanged and it is a good idea to have them printed in English on one side and Spanish on the other – present your card Spanish side up. The same should apply for any documents you bring along for presentation. You are in their country – respect that fact.
Business lunches are mainly informal and are used more as a “getting to know you” session and are rarely the setting for serious business talk.
There is much more to discuss on this topic that I will be sharing with you later.
In the meantime, I welcome your feedback and suggestions on this or anything on this site.
Please leave your comments below and I will gladly respond………