Business Abroad: 5 Etiquette Tips for Doing Business in Mexico
Doing business in a foreign country can be both daunting and exciting. Even if you arrive well-prepared to tackle a business venture, it’s important to remember that people and the impressions you make are a large part of making sure your business is a success. So whether you’re trying to jumpstart a business, or you are there for a short term business trip, here are 5 etiquette tips to keep in mind when working in the wonderful country that is Mexico:
- Who You Know Matters: Like most places, in Mexico having the right connections can make or break you. And Mexicans rely much more on personal and professional connections than what you may be used to if you’re coming from the USA or Europe. Proper business etiquette on your part should be to establish a trustworthy contact that can vouch for you and help introduce you to other important people. You may need to go the extra mile to establish and maintain relationships in Mexico, but once you have that trust it will prove invaluable for getting things done!
- It’s All in the Name: Names are very important in Mexico and attaching the correct title is a must for proper business etiquette. Terms such as ‘Licenciado’ (graduate) and ‘Ingeniero’ (engineer) should make an appearance on your vocab list along with the standard ‘Señor’ (Mr.) and ‘Señora’ (Mrs.).
- Time is Money: Time is a pretty interesting concept in Mexico and the Mexican culture is known for being a bit more lax and laid-back about punctuality. However, proper etiquette demands that you be punctual. In the business world in Mexico, it’s not seen as favorable when a foreign counterpart adheres too much to the culture and shows up late.
- Hello, Hello: Saying hello before a business meeting is pretty straightforward even in Mexico. If you’re meeting someone for the first time, a simple handshake will do. Hugs are reserved for individuals you know well so if one of your Mexican colleagues feels comfortable with you they may give you a hug as a greeting (or, in the case of women, they may ‘kiss’ you, i.e. touch their cheek to yours).
- My Space is Your Space: In Mexican culture, personal space is not as important as say, in the USA or in Canada. People will stand closer together when speaking, hold handshakes, or make more body contact in general. You shouldn’t show alarm or unease when this happens – you could come across as rude or aggressive. Instead, just go with the flow and adjust as the situation deems necessary.
Hopefully, these five tips will help you to navigate the fascinating and at times confusing etiquette of the business world in Mexico. Luckily, Mexicans are known to be kind and gracious people so even if you have a few slip-ups you shouldn’t get a cold shoulder as a result. It’s a learning process and with time you’ll become a pro at managing proper etiquette. Don’t forget though, that the language of business in Mexico is Spanish so if you want to consider language lessons our inquiry page is a great place to start! You can also take a Spanish placement test to check your knowledge of the language and make sure you go into those business meetings well prepared. Happy business travels!