We Are All In This Together
To begin it is important to note that many Latinos learn from a young age that South America and North America make up the united continent known as “America.” Therefore, we are all considered “Americans.” To someone from Mexico or Chile it may seem very offensive to claim the term “America” or “American” as title for only those who live in the United States.
While preparing for your next trip to any Latin American country, keep in mind the importance of appearance. To these cultures fashion and dress are very important when making a first impression. Be sure to dress conservatively: suits and ties for men, unrevealing business suits and dresses for women. Argentina is probably the most formal and Brazil the least formal of the Latin American countries.
You may have heard of the infamous kiss that is part of Latin American cultures’ greeting. The first time you meet someone in Latin America in a business setting you’ll often shake hands, regardless of gender. Once you are meeting for a second time, “the kiss”, really a cheek-to-cheek embrace on the right side of the face, is more appropriate between men and women or two females. Men generally stick to a strong-gripped handshake among each other, making sure to maintain eye contact.
Going off of Latinos intimate greeting style, one must understand the culture’s entire meaning of personal space. Personal space isn’t the same in Latin America as it is in many other countries, but this increased intimacy shouldn’t be construed as sexual in nature. One or two arm’s length away is the standard distance in both work and social settings.
In these cultures we find that time is a lot more relaxed of a concept than in the United States. Punctuality for business meetings doesn’t quite carry the same importance in Latin America as it might in Western Europe or Asia. Therefore it is advised not to schedule back-to-back meetings.
Warm and Friendly
Latinos are naturally very personable people who tend to be more interested in you, the person, than you as a representative of a corporation. Diving directly into work talk may be the norm in some cultures, but in Latin America small talk is vitally important to build trust and understanding.
Importance of Family
One way you can build trust with this culture is by asking about their family. Latinos are very family oriented and enjoy talking about their family, along with yours.
Speaking the Language
A very important theme you will see across most Latin countries is their pride for their culture. Although you should not stress about how much Spanish you know, making the extra effort will always be appreciated. Trying ordering food or greeting in their native language as a demonstration that you care about their business
Keeping these tips in mind will surely improve your communication skills, and your overall b2b experience with Latin Americans. For more tips on communicating across cultures be sure to check out this post.
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