Etiquette Tips for Successful Business Trips to Latin America
Proper business etiquette leaves good impressions and it gives your company the chance to put its best foot forward. Practicing the right etiquette when at work can also save your company from unintentional conflicts when dealing with foreign business professionals.
Business etiquette is simply a collection of standard behaviors where professionals treat everyone in the workplace with respect and interact with good manners. The impression created when business people show professional manners goes a long way and helps the company to succeed.
As businesses go global these days, professionals from various cultures meet to expand their companies. Hence, if you need to go on business trip to Latin American countries it is very important to follow a professional attitude.
Firstly, business atmosphere is less formal in Latin countries compared to U.S. as what can be viewed as rude in America may just be the norm in the Latin corporate world and this is why you must know the right etiquette before doing any business dealings with Latinos. Here are tips on how you should behave when on business trips:
Except for Brazil which uses Portuguese, the main language in Latin America is Spanish. They are not so zealous in using English so you must learn a bit of their language.
The normal dress code in Latin corporate environment are suit and tie for men and business suits or long dresses for women.
In Chile, a man should only shake a woman's hand if she offers it first while in Colombia, rather than a handshake, a woman might hold the person's forearm. Eye contact is important for Mexicans and Argentines; they make continuous eye contact while doing the handshake.
In general, Latinos are very physical so handshakes must be firm. While conversing, they also tend to stand so close. Touching the arm or patting the shoulder while talking are common gestures to expect as well, according to On Call International.
While most of the countries are strict when it comes to being on time to work or business functions, Latin Americans do not enforce strict rules on punctuality. In fact, most business affairs start after 30 minutes from the original call time, thus it is not rude to be late by as much as half an hour. However, it is still best to arrive early for the business meeting.
Latinos do not begin business meetings with business talks, rather they make small talks on personal topics to get to know their associates a bit. This is because they want to be acquainted on personal level and not just do business with someone from another company. Once the ‘getting to know' phase is over, business talks begin.
Business lunches are almost a must and they are normally long. Unless brought up by the host first, never bring up business over dinner because it is purely a social event for the Latins.