Understanding Mexican Business Culture
We know The US economy has always seen Mexico as an ocean of new opportunities due to its territorial proximity and the high potential as commercial trade partner. We’ve seen many guides and articles that aim to help understanding Mexican business culture and etiquette, but due to our over 12 years expertise, we spotted some recommendations that are not up to date or just completely out of context.
So here to make sure you understand Mexican Business Culture at its best, we developed a guide based on actual Mexican Businessmen Advise that might save you up some frustration next time you deal with your Mexican parties ,and will definitely help strengthen your relationships:
- The common Mexican working schedule is Monday thru Friday from 8:00 am to 6:30 pm with 1 or 2 hours for lunch around 1:00 and 3:00 pm.
- Weekends are reserved for family and friends and we suggest not to try to set appointments on these days seen as almost sacred in this culture.
- Most Mexican businesspeople don’t like to be evident when it comes to disagreement. Their way of saying no is often a “maybe” or “I’ll get back to you”. We advise to learn to read between lines, understand these indirect rejections, and ask kindly for feedback if you’d like to come up with a counter proposal to finally close the deal.
One must understand the importance of chitchat when dealing with Mexicans. It’s no surprise that, unlike the common US business mindset where time is money, in Mexico people take a little longer to do business or to even start conversations about it, we recommend to be patient and not to take it so serious at first, keeping in mind that a more personal relation with your prospects will help you close deals faster. The more they like you, the more they’ll trust you with business.
- Not sure how to break the ice? Family and sports, especially soccer, are infallible topics to get your prospect’s attention. Mexicans in general love talking about their teams’ latest performance or family matters, so don’t be afraid to ask how their team is doing or how a situation went with their relatives.
- Don’t be shocked if a Mexican businessman gets late to a meeting, this tends to happen at times, but be alert in case a meeting is cancelled, it probably means your Mexican counterpart no longer expects a positive outcome from your reunion or an urgent matter arouse. We recommend to confirm at least a couple of days in advance, as a reminder and in case anything had changed.
- Keep in mind Mexicans prefer to do business in a more personal form, we suggest to pay a visit to you colleague’s office rather than an online conference, or to go for an invitation to dinner instead of a talk on the phone.
- If expanding your network is what you’re looking for, we advise to engage hunting for new business through links among colleagues, friends and even family rather than a direct contact without a previous referral. We go back to the importance of developing strong relations with you Mexican partners. The more they trust you, the more referrals you’ll get. The more referrals, the more chances to close a deal.
- Are you about to meet a new prospect or you feel you have to get a little formal? Nothing better than professional degrees and titles. In Mexican workplaces it is common to refer to colleagues, coworkers, and often acquaintances using titles or professional degrees. The ones you’ll hear the most are:
- “Ingeniero” or “Inge” (Less formal) – Ing. (Written Abbr.) = Engineer
- “Licenciado” or “Lic” (Less formal) – Lic. (Written Abbr.) = Bachelor Degree
- These often apply for most of majors, but you can always refer to others with respect using Señor (Mr.) or Señorita (Miss) + last name. We suggest not to use Señora (Mrs.) since it might come across as a little offensive meaning the lady you refer to looks older.
- When negotiating, Mexicans in general tend to bargain even if the price is already fair. We could say this comes as a part of their culture, so do not get offended as this might happen during business meetings as well. Our suggestion is to keep a margin of negotiation within your rates in order to provide your Mexican counterpart the satisfaction of a “lower price” and increase the odds of closing the deal.
- We advise not to look for a Mexican executive on a National Holiday, unless it’s an urgent matter. To avoid any setbacks related to organization and/or planning, here is a list of the most important Mexican National Holidays:
- Constitution Day (February 5)
- Benito Juarez’s Birthday Memorial (March 21)
- Labor Day (May 1), Independence Day (September 16)
- Revolution Day (November 20)
- Christmas (December 25)
- New Year (January 1)
- Other unofficial holidays, such as Dec 24, Dec 31 or Good Friday, may be respected by some organizations, taking the day off or working just a part time shift. Bringing up a Holiday during a conversation will always make your colleagues feel good.
- In Mexico people usually take their vacation time during “Semana Santa” (what we know as Spring Break) comprising the last of weeks of March or early in April, at the end of July and the beginning of August, and on December Holiday season. So don’t be surprised if you don’t hear much from your colleagues during these seasons, they’re most likely taking a break from the office.Interesting Facts
• The traditional toast is “Salud”, which literally means “health”, but keep in mind in Mexico they also use this word when someone sneezes, the way we use “bless you”.• The “Oiga” term is used when talking to someone with respect, usually older looking people, higher rank positions, or strangers in general.• When we hear May 5, we immediately relate it to Mexico assuming it’s a major celebration in the country, when in reality it’s not even a National Holiday anymore. As a matter of fact, September 16th is when Mexicans’ patriotism really comes out, and yes, they do all the things you think they do on May 5.