As the future is volatile and uncertain, detailed long-term planning is somewhat irrelevant. The ability to react creatively to changing circumstances is of greater value than such forward planning.
Spanish business culture is varied and undergoing rapid and fundamental changes. Which type of organisation are you dealing with? Do your homework.
Managers are expected to manage. Instructions are given and managers expect them to be adhered to.
Respect is earned through the display of good character and personality. Traits such as sincerity, courage and strong leadership are all appreciated.
Relationships are all important. Internal organisations are driven through these relationships, as are external client contacts. It is essential to work on the development of good long-term relationships even at the expense of some short term hits.
Business organisations tend to be structured along hierarchical lines, but the reporting and power structures might not ultimately closely resemble the paper version. Information, power and delegation might flow along more abstract, unclear lines of relationship and mutual self-interest.
Information is given on a ‘who needs to know’ or ‘who do I want to know’ basis.
Meetings are often for the dissemination of information or the issuing of instructions rather than for open debate.
Agendas, when used, will not necessarily be adhered to. They can be seen to stifle creativity and debate.
Although it is important to be punctual, it is far more important to place the correct amount of emphasis on relationships. Therefore, dealing with people is more important than punctuality.
Communication can be theatrical in style with emphasis placed on the strength of conviction of the speaker. If you are sincere in your convictions, show it.
More emphasis is placed on the spoken than the written word. It is often not enough to send some information in writing – follow it up with a phone call to discuss things.
Although humour tends to be absent from very formal meetings or deadlock situations, it is important to be seen as relaxed and approachable. Humour is often used in the workplace amongst colleagues.
Teams tend to consist of groups of individuals working on specific tasks and reporting to a strong leader. Inter-group communication can be limited.
Entertaining at meal times is an important part of the relationship building process. Food is to be savoured. Save discussions about specific business issues for the coffee.
Body language in Spain is more expansive than in many other parts of the world. Do not mistake theatrical body language and gestures with a lack of control.
Spaniards have extremely strong eye contact. Good eye contact is important as it builds trust.
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 Spain. 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 Spain 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: