Editor’s Note: The International Business Etiquette Series is designed to help students at the David Eccles School of Business navigate different cultures and countries as they conduct business around the globe.
Did you know that Mexico is three times the size of the state of Texas? Mexico has a population of approximately 88 million people. It is comprised of multiple ethnicities: 60% mestizo, 30% Amerindian, 9% white, 1% others. Spanish is the official language of Mexico. With the increasing interdependence of Mexico and the United States in business, it is very important for students to understand the complexity of its culture. In this post, we will explore the business etiquette of Mexico along with several cultural aspects of the Mexcian culture.
Note: These etiquette tips are generalized, so be aware and sensitive when you’re doing business in Mexico Not all Mexicans are going to behave this way, so be adaptive and conscientious of your situation.
What should you wear if you do business in Mexico?
- Gentlemen: Men should wear a conservative suit and tie with dark colors. Light blue, navy, gray shirts are considered classic colors and can be worn on normal occasions. A white shirt should be worn in the most formal settings
- Ladies: Women should wear a conservative dress and a blouse. A suit may also be worn. Classic colors are gray, navy, white, and ivory.
What are the “dos” and “don’ts” when addressing Mexicans?
- Do shake hands when meeting and leaving.
- Do arrange appointments ahead of time. Best time is between 10am and 1pm. Be on time
- Do give gifts to business executives to show appreciation.
- Do not wear jeans and low-cut clothing is not proper.
- Do not keep your hands in your pocket or stand with hands on your hips. It displays aggressiveness.
- Do not make direct eye contact. This is a sign of respect.
How should you communicate with Mexicans?
- Address others by using titles. Do not use first names unless you are invited.
- Titles are valued and should be presented on business cards.
- People who don’t have professional titles should be addressed by Mr., Mrs., Miss. (Senor is Mr., Senora is Mrs., and Senorita is Miss).
- Latinos generally have double surnames. The first surname comes from the father and the second surname comes from the mother. Use the father’s surname when speaking to someone.
- Good topics to discuss are Mexcian culture, history, art, and museums.
- Do not discuss the Mexican-American war, issues of poverty, undocumented immigrants, or earthquakes.
Other things to consider:
- The traditional way of toast in Mexico is Salud (Sal-UUD).
- Do not use red ink ever to write someone’s name.
- Mexicans use “psst-psst” to get other’s attention in public. It is not uncommon or rude.