Emmy Award Winner, Gayle Cotton, is the author of this article and of the bestselling book ‘SAY Anything to Anyone, Anywhere! 5 Keys to Successful Cross-Cultural Communications’ She is President of Circles Of Excellence for Corporate Training & Executive Coaching and a distinguished Keynote Speaker. Gayle entertains and inspires audiences of all size with her fresh, unique, and humorous approach to Cross-Cultural Communications and social business etiquette. She travels worldwide from business bases in Texas and Switzerland. Contact Gayle for your next conference or event to help your company become more successful in today’s global business marketplace!
This article series ‘Cultural Clues, Do’s & Taboos’ is a brief synopsis of conversation guidelines, travel tips, and international business strategies that will increase your success communicating with different cultures. Keep in mind that we are homogenizing as a ‘global culture’, and as a result cultural tendencies are changing and homogenizing as well. Awareness is the first step!
Cultural Tips for MEXICO
In conversation, Mexicans talk easily and often about their families and private lives. They will expect the same of you.
Mexicans prefer to do business with people they know. Cultivating personal relationships with others will be crucial to your success. Strive to establish contacts as high up in the organization as possible. If possible, use a local, well-connected person to make the necessary introductions for you.
Punctuality is not as much of a priority in the Mexican business culture. However, visitors should arrive on time. The pace of business is also slower and time is more flexible. Expect time delays up to 30 minutes for business and even longer delays for social events.
Men will usually shake hands during greetings. A gentle grip is common. Handshakes at the end of a meeting are intended to affirm what was discussed or agreed to.
An ‘abrazo’ or hug with pats on the back is common on the 2nd or 3rd meeting. It is seen as a sign of good will in Mexican business culture.
In business, it’s appropriate for women to initiate handshakes with men. With each other, they may simply pat each other on the right forearm or shoulder. If they are particularly close, women may hug or kiss each other on the cheek.
Conversations occur at a much closer physical distance than many cultures may be accustomed to. Moving away to establish distance could be considered unfriendly. In response, a Mexican will often step forward and close the distance up again.
Mexican men are warm, friendly, and tend to initiate a lot of physical contact. They often touch shoulders or hold the arm of another. Withdrawing from these gestures could be perceived as an insult.
Mexicans often avoid saying “no” directly”. A “no” may be disguised by “maybe” or “we’ll see.” It’s best to use this indirect approach in your business relationships so your Mexican counterparts don’t perceive you as being aggressive or pushy.
The appearance and presentation of letters and promotional materials are considered very important and will be subject to scrutiny. Place documents on the table with care. Never casually toss or throw them.
Mexican business people can be quite status-conscious, and it helps to have at least one member of your team from higher-level management. It may also be an asset to mention any university degrees you hold.
Subjective feelings and emotional appeals are often effective in Mexico, so emphasize how your Mexican counterparts will benefit personally. It also helps to mention the importance of trust, honor, and family pride.
Negotiations are usually lengthy and may include a lot of bargaining. Usually, the highest person in authority makes the final decision. Final decisions are always followed by a written agreement.
Mexicans may use a “psst-psst” sound to get another’s attention in public. This is not considered rude in Mexican business etiquette,
If purchasing things in Mexico, place your money directly in the vendor’s or clerk’s hand. Leaving your payment on the counter may give the impression that you feel they are beneath you.
5 Key Topics to Use in Conversation
- Mexican scenery and landmarks
- Mexican art, culture, history, and music
- Your family or job is always a good topic
- The local Mexican cuisine and drink
- Sports, especially Mexican “futbol” (soccer)
5 Key Topics or Gestures to Avoid in Conversation
- The “O.K.” gesture with the thumb and index finger is considered vulgar
- Men should avoid putting their hands in their pockets as this is considered rude
- Religious profanity is very offensive in Mexico
- Putting your hands on your hips signifies that you’re making a challenge
- Eye contact is less direct, so avoid looking at others too intently.
Join us in the future for the NETHERLANDS!
To learn more about the communication and business styles of Asia/Pacific, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East – order my bestselling book ‘SAY Anything to Anyone Anywhere! 5 Keys to Successful Cross-Cultural Communication’ – now available as an Audio Book on Amazon!
Create Rapport and Organize Strategies for Success
The CROSS of Cross-Cultural
Contact EMMY AWARD WINNER, Gayle Cotton, to speak at your next meeting or conference! Gayle is the author of the bestselling book ‘SAY Anything to Anyone, Anywhere! 5 Keys to Successful Cross-Cultural Communications’ and President of Circles Of Excellence Inc. She is a Certified Expert with ‘The Executive Foundation for International Communication’, and was the first American to be a member of ‘The European Association of Marketing and Sales Experts’. Gayle entertains and inspires audiences around the word with her fresh, unique, and humorous approach to Cross-Cultural Communications and Social Business Etiquette She has business bases in Texas and Switzerland.
Circles Of Excellence website: www.circlesofexcellence.com
Book website: SAY Anything to Anyone Anywhere!
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Cross-cultural article: Cultural Clues, Do’s & Taboos for the NETHERLANDS
Soon on the: Circles Of Excellence blog
Cross-cultural article: Cultural Clues, Do’s and Taboos for SCOTLAND
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