Good and effective communication is always an important factor of any successful business encounters.
Obviously, every country has a distinct culture and business conduct. In this article, we are referring to the Spanish one.
As a general rule, you should avoid confrontation as much as possible because Spaniards don’t feel comfortable to admit that they are wrong, especially in public. They are more concerned about how they are perceived by others. Try to stay modest when describing your achievements and accomplishments. In fact, modesty is one of the qualities more appreciated by Spaniards.
Even during a first encounter, the Spanish tend to be outgoing and very friendly, which may look quite strange to the ones who come from North Europe and North America. As a Mediterranean culture, Spaniards use their extrovert nature to get to know others and learn about other cultures.
Compared to other Western European countries and North America, in Spain there is not a strong emphasis on professional experience or business success. It is more important to be patient, to listen and pay attention and certainly to display some personal pride and honor, in order to prove yourself and gain the respect of your colleagues.
Humour plays an important role in society, even in business encounters, hence, another valued characteristic is the ability to be amusing and entertaining.
Moreover, personal relationships are such an important element, that you should plan extra time in business meetings to allow people to communicate and get on a more personal level. Spaniards also like to take their time and hate to be rushed when making an important decision.
To North Europeans and North Americans in particular, the ‘Spanish approach’ can appear fuzzy, especially because personal connections outweigh business contacts. Loyalties and relationships are devoted to the individuals rather than the companies they represent. As a consequence, you will keep the personal relationships you develop throughout your career and businesses have to re-invest time and resources in developing relationships whenever their representatives change.
Last but not least, the origin of Spanish (and Latin American) very long personal names!
Spanish people usually have surnames consisting of their father’s first surname plus their mother’s maiden name. You will be expected to use both unless your colleagues let you know clearly that they only use the one name, and the same rule applies to compound first names, for instance Juan-Andrés.