Can you successfully deal with Hispanic Business People? Hispanics are the fastest growing consumer demographic in the United States. They also make up a large portion of new business owners. While Hispanic Business People come in all shapes and sizes, one thing that most have in common is their culture.
It’s mid January and 70 degrees in sunny San Diego. I just left Harbor Island’s Sherton Hotel and I have to pause to admire the beautiful skyline before heading out to Chicano Park. Sitting there I can’t help but think that less than 20 miles away there’s another world, another culture, and another perspective on life. Miles turn to kilometers, English turns into Spanish, roads deteriorate faster, and houses last longer.
I start thinking about the various business transactions I’ve had throughout my life and start comparing cultural differences between American Business People and Hispanic Business People. I came up with the following list.
There is no black and white formula to deal with anyone, these are just generalizations that I have noticed. Keep in mind that many Hispanics have been in the United States for a very long time, many were born here or have been here for multiple generations. Some might identify and carry more culturally”Hispanic views” than others.
WAIT, BUT THEY SAID…
Listen to what they mean not what they say. If you know Spanish and are close to a Spanish speaker then you exactly what I mean. You automatically decipher the real meaning of what some one said. You probably find yourself constantly interpreting what people are saying. Even their jokes are usually based off of play-on-words whereas Americans tend to use more sarcasm in their humor. How can you get around this? Put it on paper and make sure you ask them clearly what they want or what you can offer them.
CAN YOU SAY LAID BACK?
Punctuality. Hispanics in general tend to me more laid back with time. This really shows when you’re doing international business and they’re in their home county. In the United States, I have found that this is usually one of the first things Hispanics let go when they decide to stay in the United States. If they’re late it’s not because they don’t like you or because they want to be disrespectful it’s usually because they put their personal life before their business. They have a saying in Mexico, “Mexicans work to live, Americans live to work.”
I DON’T KNOW YOU LIKE THAT…
They like to build personal relationships. Hispanics tend put more feelings into businesses. They like to establish personal relationships before or while establishing professional relationships. Be honest and trusting because even if there’s a lot of money to be made–they might not care if they don’t like you as a person.
HOW MANY EMPLOYEES DO YOU HAVE?
They pay attention to and respect status. A lot of Latin American Countries fall high on the Power Distance Index (PDI). Depending on what type of good/service you’re offering them, you might want to change the way you approach the situation. Having that receptionist or not having a receptionist can make a big difference depending what angle you’re trying to work.
WHY IS HE STANDING SO CLOSE TO ME?
Body Language. Don’t be surprised if they invade your bubble and don’t flatter yourself if a woman leans in and “air kisses” you. This is a very common way to greet people in Latin America.