Getting personal about business in Spain

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Learning a new language is not all about grammar and pronunciation. You need to understand the history, culture and people of the country to truly become fluent. Similarly, conducting business in another country is more successful when you know more about the people and the place that you visit.

So, what do you need to about conducting business in Spain? 

By Alison Gardner, account executive and international expert at Stone Junction


Before you go

Do your research about where you are visiting in Spain. The country has 17 diverse regions, each with their own history, traditions and dialects. No one expects you to know everything about that area — but some background research can facilitate smooth relations.

Punctuality

It is a common joke that everything in Spain happens mañana — later. Later can be tomorrow, in three days, or even in a few months.

Despite the joke, you shouldn’t assume that all Spaniards will be late. Arrive on time to your meetings to make a good impression.

Greetings

When meeting someone in Spain for the first time, you might think that kissing each cheek is the norm. However, in business situations people will only greet each other this way if they know them very well.

Stick to a handshake, then change greetings accordingly as you get to know people.

Meetings

Doing business is all about trust. Expect your first meeting to be all about getting to know one another. People will want to check if you are honest and reliable before starting a business relationship and negotiating any work.

Food

Eating is an important part of both social and business culture in Spain. The business day in Spain begins around eight in the morning and there is around a three-hour break for lunch. However, this isn’t siesta time.

These three hours are for eating, drinking and socialising — not for business. This is a great time to get to know everyone. Ask about their family, home life or hobbies.

Conversations

Not everyone you encounter will speak English. And even if they do, try to start out speaking in Spanish, for example greet them and ask a few questions. It gives a good first impression and shows you respect them.

At Stone Junction, we know that the best way to learn about business in another country is to fully immerse yourself in the culture. Our international team has the linguistic and cultural information you need to successfully communicate with people in other countries. To find out more about how we can help you at your next international business meeting, call me on +44 (0)1785 225 416 or e-mail me at alison@stonejunction.co.uk. 

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