In Mexico, personal relationships are at the heart of most business dealings. Take the time to cultivate strong, long-term relationships.
Although the influence of foreign MNCs cannot be ignored, most indigenous Mexican companies will be hierarchical in structure.
People from the USA are North Americans rather than Americans. Mexicans are also Americans.
Key decisions are made by a small number of individuals at the top of the hierarchy. Ensure that you are dealing with the right people.
Make sure that you send people of the appropriate level of seniority to deal with Mexican colleagues. Do not insult people by sending very junior colleagues to work with older, more senior Mexican managers.
Managers tend to be instructional and are expected to give direct instructions to subordinates.
As in many hierarchical cultures, the boss-subordinate relationship is a reciprocal one. In exchange for loyalty, the boss takes a personal interest in the well-being of subordinates.
Try not to criticise others openly in meetings as this could be construed as an insult and have a very bad long-term impact on your relationships in Mexico.
Do not be surprised if standards of punctuality do not meet your expectations. Time is a flexible commodity and start and finish times should be viewed as estimates.
Agendas are not always used in meetings and if they are produced will not always be strictly followed.
Overt displays of emotion are not frowned upon – they show commitment and engagement.
Do not be surprised if small, sub-meetings develop within larger formal meetings.
English is widely spoken and many people speak it fluently. English is not, however, universally spoken and interpreters can be needed on occasion if you don’t speak Spanish.
Family names are often used in business circles amongst even quite close colleagues.
Formal titles such as Ingenerio (Engineer) are also commonly used in business.
People stand much closer to each other than many other cultures. Do not try to recreate your normal personal space as this could be seen as being unfriendly.
Although women play a less significant role at senior management level than in some other countries, visiting female managers should have few problems and will be treated with professional courtesy and respect.
It is important to be smartly dressed in both business and social situations.
Lunch is taken quite late at around 2:00pm and can last for a couple of hours.
Breakfast meetings are common in Mexico and should be seen as an important part of the relationship-building process.
Written and Produced by Keith Warburton
This country profile has been produced to give a short overview of some of the key concepts to bear in mind when doing business with contacts in Mexico. It is intended to be an aid to business people who have commercial dealings with counterparties in the country but should not be seen as an exhaustive guide to this topic or as a substitute for more substantial research should there be a need.
With this in mind, we have covered the areas which are key to a better understanding of the cultural mindset underpinning business dealings in Mexico and which are, quite often, extremely different from the approach and thought processes associated with business in other parts of the world.
Therefore this briefing note is broken into short, bite-sized sections on the following topics: