Mexicans prefer to do business with people they know. Cultivating personal relationships with others will be crucial to your success. Strive to establish contacts as high up in the organization as possible. If possible, use a local, well-connected person to make the necessary introductions for you.
Punctuality is not as much of a priority in the Mexican business culture. However, visitors should arrive on time. The pace of business is also slower and time is more flexible. Expect time delays up to 30 minutes for business and even longer delays for social events.
Men will usually shake hands during greetings. A gentle grip is common. Handshakes at the end of a meeting are intended to affirm what was discussed or agreed to.
An ‘abrazo’ or hug with pats on the back is common on the 2nd or 3rd meeting. It is seen as a sign of good will in Mexican business culture.
In business, it’s appropriate for women to initiate handshakes with men. With each other, they may simply pat each other on the right forearm or shoulder. If they are particularly close, women may hug or kiss each other on the cheek.
Conversations occur at a much closer physical distance than many cultures may be accustomed to. Moving away to establish distance could be considered unfriendly. In response, a Mexican will often step forward and close the distance up again.
Mexican men are warm, friendly, and tend to initiate a lot of physical contact. They often touch shoulders or hold the arm of another. Withdrawing from these gestures could be perceived as an insult.
Mexicans often avoid saying “no” directly”. A “no” may be disguised by “maybe” or “we’ll see.” It’s best to use this indirect approach in your business relationships so your Mexican counterparts don’t
perceive you as being aggressive or pushy.
The appearance and presentation of letters and promotional materials are considered very important and will be subject to scrutiny. Place documents on the table with care. Never casually toss or throw them.
Mexican business people can be quite status-conscious, and it helps to have at least one member of your team from higher-level management. It may also be an asset to mention any university degrees you hold.
Subjective feelings and emotional appeals are often effective in Mexico, so emphasize how your Mexican counterparts will benefit personally. It also helps to mention the importance of trust, honor and family pride.
Negotiations are usually lengthy and may include a lot of bargaining. Usually, the highest person in authority makes the final decision. Final decisions are always followed by a written agreement.
Mexicans may use a “psst-psst” sound to get another’s attention in public. This is not considered rude in Mexican business etiquette,
If purchasing things in Mexico, place your money directly in the vendor’s or clerk’s hand. Leaving your payment on the counter may give the impression that you feel they are beneath you.
5 Key Topics to Use in Conversation
- Mexican scenery and landmarks
- Mexican art, culture, history and music
- Your family or job is always a good topic
- The local Mexican cuisine and drink
- Sports, especially Mexican “futbol” (soccer)
5 Key Topics or Gestures to Avoid in Conversation
- The “O.K.” gesture with the thumb and index finger is considered vulgar
- Men should avoid putting their hands in their pockets as this is considered rude
- Religious profanity is very offensive in Mexico
- Putting your hands on your hips signifies that you’re making a challenge
- Eye contact is less direct, so avoid looking at others too intently.
Please visit Gayle Cotton’s Blog for additional Cross-Cultural Articles throughout the summer. Gayle’s articles on this blog will return in the Fall when she returns from her ‘Book Sabbatical’ to write her new book:
‘SAY Anything to Anyone, Anywhere!’
Contact Circles Of Excellence for your company’s Corporate Training, Executive Coaching, and Professional Keynote Speakers. We work with companies of all sizes and industries, including 50
Fortune 500 companies. Our topics include Communication Skills, Cross-Cultural Communications, Customer Service, Diversity, Leadership & Management, Presentation Skills, Sales & Negotiations, Stress Management, Team Building and Time Management. Contact EMMY AWARD WINNER, Gayle Cotton for your next meeting or conference to help your business become more successful in today’s global business environment. Gayle is President of Circles Of Excellence for Corporate Training & Executive Coaching. She travels worldwide as a distinguished Professional
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