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Dec
28

Doing business with Spaniards

My wife recently came across this website, which has detailed cultural profiles of several countries, including Spain. The profiles are geared toward those doing business in these countries, but much of what the website provides could easily apply to any visitor.

The website is run by a U.K. company called Kwintenssential, which, according to its Linkedin profile, was founded in 2003 “to support the process of globalization and internationalization.”

I can’t vouch for the accuracy of the profiles. And gross generalizations can be misleading. But from what I do know of various cultures, including our own in the U.S., I’d have to say they seem on the whole rather accurate. Much of the profile of the United States rings true (i.e. “In general, people in the East dress more formally, while people in the West are known for being a bit more casual”). Still, I’d be interested in hearing feedback from anyone with experience living in Spain, or, better yet, doing business with Spaniards.

Go here for Spain’s profile. The site also provides a page of useful, although extremely basic, language tips for travelers.

Here are some of my favorites details from Spain’s profile.

During meals…

  • Always keep your hands visible when eating. Keep your wrists resting on the edge of the table.
  • Use utensils to eat most food. Even fruit is eaten with a knife and fork.

Building business relationships…

  • Once you develop a relationship, it will prevail even if you switch companies, since your Spanish business colleagues’ allegiance will be to you rather than the company you represent.
  • Face-to-face contact is preferred to written or telephone communication.
  • The way you present yourself is of critical importance when dealing with Spaniards.
  • You may be interrupted while you are speaking. This is not an insult, it merely means the person is interested in what you are saying.
  • Spaniards do not like to lose face, so they will not necessarily say that they do not understand something, particularly if you are not speaking Spanish. You must be adept at discerning body language.

The little things…

  • Business dress is stylish yet, conservative.
  • Elegant accessories are important for both men and women.
  • Present your business card to the receptionist upon arriving.
  • Have one side of your card translated into Spanish.
  • Hand your card so the Spanish side faces the recipient.

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