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Business Culture

Mexico - Business Culture

Mexicans prefer to conduct business on a face to face basis with people they know and trust. You should try to arrange initial introductions through an existing contact.

Appointments should be made in advance in writing and confirmed by telephone. Normal office hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. or later, Mondays to Fridays, with a siesta of 2-3 hours in early afternoon. Avoid Easter, Christmas and New Year, and the third week of September when making appointments.

The official language is Spanish, and although most Mexican businesspeople can speak English, you should have your business cards and company materials translated. Take a good supply of cards, which should include details of your professional and academic qualifications.

There is a relaxed attitude to timekeeping in Mexico, and your hosts may turn up late, or arrange a meeting for a time when they will be out of the office. You should try to be punctual, and wait patiently for the Mexicans to arrive.

Business breakfasts and lunches are commonly held, but are primarily for the purpose of building personal relationships between the parties rather than making business decisions. It is common to discuss personal details and backgrounds at meetings.

Business attire is conservative and formal, consisting of suits and ties for men, and suits or smart dresses for women. The normal business greeting among men is a handshake and a smile, while close business associates will often embrace. Women are likely to pat each other on the arm or shoulder as greeting. Eye contact should be infrequent and not too intense.

People should be addressed as Senor, Senora or Senorita, or their professional title, with their family name. Mexicans use both their father's and their mother's surname, in that order, but the mother's name is only used in correspondence, not when addressing them verbally.

Business communications in Mexico are polite, and often indirect, with care being taken not to give a direct refusal. Mexicans are quite open to new ideas, and will consider proposals on their own merits rather than being guided by precedence. Since business culture is quite hierarchical, and decisions are made at a senior level, although subordinates are often consulted.

It is not normal practice to give gifts in Mexican business culture, but a small gift as a token of sincerity will be acceptable and appreciated.

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