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How to Conduct Business with Mexican Contacts

You may have the opportunity to do business with Mexican or Mexican-American individuals, a particular culture group that's common in the United States. Mexican business customs follow these cultural norms:

  • Common greeting: Shaking hands or giving a slight bow. Shake hands with a Mexican woman only if she extends her hand first. Men may greet other men with the abrazo (a hug with a few pats on the back).

  • Personal space: Generally closer than many people are comfortable with, at 1 to 1 1/2 feet.

  • Eye contact: Direct.

  • Approach to time: Relaxed; up to 30 minutes late is considered punctual. Mexicans may also cancel or fail to show up for meetings, so be persistent.

    You’re not expected to arrive on time for appointments or social events.

  • Language: Spanish is the official language, so you may want to pick up a few Spanish words, such as hola (hello), adiós (goodbye), por favor (please), and gracias (thank you). However, keep in mind that for many of the Mexicans you interact with, their English may be better than your Spanish.

  • Communication: Mexicans are more likely to prefer doing business in person rather than over the phone or Internet. They also tend to be indirect communicators, so avoid direct confrontation.

  • Topics for building rapport: Family and children are always welcome subjects.

    Never ask a Hispanic man, “What does your wife do for a living?” because this can imply he doesn’t earn enough to support his family.

  • Negotiations: Negotiations can move at a snail’s pace, so be patient. Quick decisions are considered rash.

  • Actions to avoid: Standing with your hands on your hips connotes anger. Standing with your hands in your pockets is rude.

  • Tips for businesswomen: Men may not be used to seeing women in positions of power, so proceed slowly.

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