The Mexican business culture is considerably different from that of the USA. Failure to understand these differences can actually make your business fail. Even tiny details such as the date format can lead to great inconveniences and can even mess up your business relations.
6 Mexico Business Culture Facts You Need to Remember
Mexico business culture puts trust above everything, including the quality of products and services. Almost everyone in the country limits their business dealings to their friends and family. Because of this, you will need to do is to invest your time in building long-term personal contacts.
If people know you, they are more likely to do business with you. The first contact you make with a person should be through a phone call, as is the norm in Mexican customs.
Getting social contacts is only one part of building trust. Staying in touch with your friends is equally important.
In Mexico business etiquette, physical contacts have to start with a greeting. A firm handshake will suffice for this purpose. After a few contacts, the greeting can progress to a light hug. In the case of opposite sex relationships, greetings in advanced relationships involve a light kiss on the cheeks. After a handshake, a woman might lean in for a kiss on the cheek, and returning one is still considered formal.
Touching and holding of shoulders is also common in between conversations. It is impolite to withdraw from such contact.
In the country, you are likely to get invites to family unions and dinners. In Mexican customs, you should not turn down such an offer, and should also not bring up any business conversation in such setups. Because of the same social rule, people who accept invites to social events and functions will not always show up.
It is also important to learn a person’s professional title. This should be used every time you address people in a business setting.
Conversations in Business Deals
Business deals in most other parts of the world are carried out without much general conversation. This is not the case in Mexico business culture. Business people in this country will spend a lot of time engaging in irrelevant conversations just to get to know each other. Usually, you should expect some talk about family and the country as Mexicans feel strongly about their country.
Negotiations in Mexico usually progress very slowly. If two executives or business owners meet to do business, they would typically spend the last few minutes talking about the core issue. After the deal is closed, some business people like to give gifts. This is a sign of goodwill. However, it is not advisable to give out expensive gifts since these may make the recipient uncomfortable.
Hierarchy is an important aspect of the Mexico business culture. The gap between senior executives and the rest of the company employees is usually huge. In most cases, if you contact the executive’s secretary, you will never get through to the top level executives. This is even more common when dealing with secretaries who do not speak Spanish fluently. Instead of contacting the executives through secretaries, you should try to find the cell phone number of the top-level personnel and call them directly.
If you wish to make an important business deal, there are only a few individuals at the top of the hierarchy who can make it happen. The rest of the employees do not have the power to influence a company’s moves. This applies to small companies and large enterprises as well. For this reason, you do not need to waste your time negotiating with anyone but the few individuals at the top of the establishment.
Negotiation in Mexico
Negotiating in Mexico is also done among people of the same level of a hierarchy. The companies have different structures, but hierarchy exists in all Mexican businesses. Before meeting business people, you need to first understand the structure of the company in question. Once this is done, you can decide who to send as a representative of your company. Sending a low-level employee to make a deal with a high-ranking executive is considered an insult in the business ethics in Mexico.
Mexicans are not as time-conscious as people in many other parts of the world. The typical work day starts at 7 am and ends at 6 pm. On Saturday, the business hours run from 8 or 9 am to midday or 1 pm. Lunch is taken at 2 pm and runs until 4 pm. Negotiating in Mexico is never done over this period. Similarly, business discussions are not encouraged over weekends since most Mexicans prefer to spend the time with their families.
When it comes to setting up business meetings, you should send reminders a few days in advance, and even the evening preceding the set date. Mexicans do not usually arrive early for meetings. This should not strike you as disrespectful – it is just what they are used to.
Business is also not conducted on public holidays. In Mexico business culture, these include:
- New Year’s Day on January 1st.
- Mexican Constitution Day on the first Monday of February every year.
- Benito Juarez’s Birthday on the third Monday in March.
- Good Thursday/ Good Friday sometime in March or April.
- Labor Day on 1st of May.
- Independence Day on September 16th.
- Revolution Day on the 3rd Monday of the month of November.
- Christmas Day on 25th December.
Companies also close for the Holy Week Vacation in the last week before Easter.
A good number of Mexicans have learned English as a second language, especially in the top tiers of the companies. In the Mexico business culture, English and Spanish can be used in business negotiations. That being said, if you make an effort of speaking in Spanish, many local business people will like you better. This aspect can make it easier for you to establish business/social contacts which will become the core of your enterprise.
In case you don’t speak Spanish, and the other business executive does not speak your language, you can find a translator to get rid of the communication barrier.
Mexico business culture differs from that of the United States in many ways. You can take advantage of such variations to take your business to the next level.