Business Practices in Spain
- The Fundamental Principles of Business Culture
Face to face meeting is very important and you are accorded a warm welcome. The Spanish businessman appreciate to be visited regularly. Business relationships are considered as friendly relationships and oral communication is prefered.
During the meeting:
- The Spanish prefer that their interlocutors speak first;
- The negotiations may take some time, so that all issues can be addressed;
- The Spanish prefer an official conclusion: avoid any last minute questions and repetitions.
- First Contact
- Before the first meeting, send a letter, e-mail or fax specifying who you are and and what you want. Confirm meetings in writing and/or by phone the previous day. Avoid August, Holy Week (Passover) and the period between Christmas and January 6th. Please note, there are many public holidays in Spain! Each region and each city has its public holidays. Avoid meetings between 2 pm and 4 pm.
- Shake hands with the person you are meeting and address her or him by name preceded by "Senora" ou "Senor". Please note, the Spanish people have two surnames, so express both. Use the expression "Usted" when addressing a person, but quite frequently the person will ask you to address him by first name.
When two men know each other well, they hug each other from front while patting each other's back energetically. They can also shake hands by placing the other hand on the forearm of the person opposite to them. Kissing each other readily on the cheek (starting from the left) between man and woman and between two women is quite common.
- How to Present Yourself
- Start your introduction by saying "Encantado"or "Encantada" if you are a woman, then state your first name and surname.
- Business Relations
- Spanish people prefer to do business with people they know and take the time to get to know you. The first meeting is often very formal. Afterwards, the relations are more casual and friendly. They prefer speaking face-to-face than written communication and telephonic conversations.The heads of SME rarely speak anything other than Castilian and possibly their regional language. In big companies, English has replaced French. Knowing Castilian or being accompanied by an interpreter is hence necessary.
- During the first visit, a low-priced gift (regional souvenir, promotional product or item of the visiting company) is always appreciated and leaves a trace of your visit.
For Christmas and New Year Holidays, Spanish companies send their customers baskets of assorted food, of more or less high value.
- Business Communication
- Apart from conversations in person and over the phone which are still to be preferred, e-mail communication is developing rapidly since the Spanish Postal Service is slow. It is very important to create a personal relationship of trust with the person you speak to. You can be interrupted when you speak. This is not an insult, but shows that the person is interested in what you say. In general, negotiations are long.
- Dress Code
- The Spanish are very particular about the sartorial aspect of the persons they talk to (professional or social level). Bright colors are not appreciated. In summer, a little relaxation in one's clothes is admitted: «taking off» one's jacket, removing the tie, etc. You are welcome to copy the appearance of the local person you speak to, all the while maintaining a small degree of etiquette in addition, as a mark of respect.
- Visiting Cards
- Professional visiting cards are a must. You are «nothing» if you do not present one right at the beginning of the conversation. A plus: the backside of the card in Castilian which will be presented by this side to the person you are meeting.
- For Further Information
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For the past several years, Spain was one of the European Union’s best economic performers. It enjoys a long-standing and wide-ranging bilateral relationship with the United States and has traditionally provided a healthy export market.
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