In Venezuela, punctuality is expected. Traffic congestion, especially in Caracas, can be difficult, so make sure you have plenty of time to get to your appointment.
A firm, assured, handshake is the customary greeting on all occasions. During the handshake, state your full name and the Venezuelan will reciprocate by doing the same.
Once you establish a closer acquaintance, you may receive an “abrazo”, an embrace which involves a squeeze of the arm, and sometimes even a kiss on the cheek.
Venezuelans tend to stand close to others. Respect this practice and accept that it is the cultural norm. Attempting to move away may be perceived as a rejection.
Business cards are important in establishing working relationships in this culture, so bring a plentiful supply and have them ready when first meeting others. Business cards should be treated with care and respect.
It’s best if documents, letters, promotional literature, and presentation materials are translated into Spanish. However, if you receive a reply from a Venezuelan in English you may begin using English in all correspondence.
In the Venezuelan business culture, preliminary conversation or “small talk” is considered necessary before each meeting, since it allows the participants to become personally acquainted. Follow their lead in establishing rapport.
An important part of developing a business relationship with your Venezuelan contact involves dining at a restaurant. Business dinners are usually social occasions, so refrain from discussing work-related matters unless your Venezuelan contact brings up the subject.
If you are hosting a meal at a restaurant, it’s a good idea to pay the bill in advance. This guideline is especially important if you are a woman, since your male guests may resist allowing you to pick up the tab.
If you are invited to a Venezuelan’s home, consider it an honor, and it’s best to bring a gift. Orchids, the national flower, is a popular and an easily available floral gift.
Businesspeople from older generations often place a greater emphasis on getting to know you personally. Conversely, the younger generations are chiefly preoccupied with business concerns.
In Venezuelan business culture, interpersonal skills and maintaining cordial relations with the group, are often considered more important than professional competence and experience.
Avoid monopolizing a conversation, it’s best to allow your Venezuelan companions to initially take the lead.
During a conversation, it’s not uncommon for Venezuelans to sometimes touch each other’s arms or jacket.
In both the government and private sectors, Venezuelan women hold positions of rank and authority, so you’ll find that Venezuelan men will be accustomed to dealing with businesswomen.
A business deal made in Venezuela should focus mainly on long-term goals, rather than immediate gains.
The Venezuelan educational system emphasizes processing information subjectively and associatively. In problem solving, becoming personally involved is often considered more important than seeking guidance from a specific set or laws or rules.
In the Venezuelan business culture, an individual takes full responsibility for his or her decisions and how they affect the group or family structure.
The pace of negotiations is generally slower in Venezuela than in the United States.
During negotiations, wait until final agreements are reached before discussing getting attorneys involved.
Business gifts are appreciated if you have been invited to dinner or when someone has done something thoughtful for you. It’s best to give them after business hours. Some good gifts include fine chocolates, a desk accessory with your company name and logo, or a small electronic.
5 Key Conversation Topics or Cultural Gesture Tips
- Maintaining eye contact is an important way of signaling attentiveness in this culture.
- Point with your entire hand, rather than just your index finger which is considered impolite.
- Good topics to discuss are the positive aspects of Venezuela, particularly what you like most about the country.
- Sports, especially baseball and soccer.
- Restaurants and food are always good topics of discussion.
5 Key Conversation Topics or Cultural Gesture Taboos
- Venezuelans look down upon eating and walking at the same time.
- Avoid discussing Venezuelan politic or religion.
- In general, it’s best not to bring up the influence the United States has on South America.
- Don’t ask personal questions or discuss a person’s private life unless they bring it up first.
- Don’t back away from Venezuelans when they stand close to you or pull away if they touch your arm or clothing during discussions.
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Create Rapport and Organize Strategies for Success
The CROSS of Cross-Cultural
Cultural Tips for Countries from A to Z
Cultural Tips for Venezuela – including some valuable business travel tips for Venezuela
This article on cultural differences in Venezuela and cultural travel tips for Venezuela is a brief snapshot of conversation guidelines for Venezuela, tips for communicating in Venezuela, and business strategies for Venezuela to help with understanding the culture in Venezuela. It’s important to keep in mind that as we homogenize as a ‘global culture,’ cultural tendencies change and evolve as well. Awareness is the first step when it comes to cultural do’s and taboos for Venezuela and tips for intercultural communication!
It’s easy for business travelers to think that even when they travel, business is going to be done pretty much the same way it is at home. But that’s not always the case. Cultural differences can have a significant impact on global business etiquette. That’s why it’s important for business travelers to make sure that they understand the culture of the country that they’re doing business in.
Emmy Award Winner, Gayle Cotton, is the author of this blog and of the bestselling cross-cultural communication book ‘SAY Anything to Anyone, Anywhere! 5 Keys to Successful Cross-Cultural Communication’, which is available on Amazon as a Book, eBook, or Audio Book. She is President of Circles Of Excellence Inc. and a Professional Keynote Speaker. Contact Gayle if you need professional speakers for events, speakers on cultural diversity, conference speakers for events, or keynote speakers that specialize in cross-cultural training. She is a leader in the field of public speakers, motivational speakers, and international keynote speakers. She is among the best of female keynote speakers and women motivational speakers and is a ‘first choice’ request for international audiences!
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