U.S. businesspeople have more and more reasons for doing business in Mexico. To be successful, however, they need to keep in mind cultural differences between the two countries.
Mexico may get a lot of attention in U.S. media for its escalating drug violence, but its economy is also booming, said Shannon K. O'Neil, a Mexico expert at the Council on Foreign Relations.
High oil prices have helped. So we have a huge boom in manufacturing along the border tied to U.S. companies and to U.S. consumers, said O'Neil.
U.S. companies think about becoming increasingly globally competitive; you have to create global supply chains and we've done that increasingly with Mexico, she said.
Mexico, moreover, is also a growing consumer market for U.S. exporters.
Mexicans place considerable reliance on personally relationships, rather than the business contacts we are used to dealing with in the United States, stated Missouri Southern State University.
Communicaid, a culture and communication skills consultancy, went so far to say that business relationships often take precedence over [professional] capability.
Therefore, it is important to secure friendships with Mexican businesspeople one directly does business with or those who can introduce and vouch for oneself, according to Communicaid.
Mexican businesspeople prefer to avoid overt disagreements; their way of saying no is often by saying maybe or I'll get back to you.
For American businesspeople, it is helpful to understand these indirect rejections from the Mexican side and not convey overt disagreement from their own side.
Mexican businesspeople have a less strict sense of time than American businesspeople. Many of them are used to doing business with Americans, so they try to arrive on time for appointments. If they arrive late, however, it should not be considered a sign of disrespect, according to the Australian Trade Commission (Austrade).
Moreover, it is common for Mexican businesspeople to cancel meetings.
When setting up a business meeting at a distant date in the future, it is important to confirm the meeting - doing so several times and even on the eve of the meeting - as the date arrives, according to Austrade.
Mexican businesspeople even consider appointments with people from the United States as tentative until they know the person is actually in Mexico, according to Missouri Southern State University.
Generally speaking, business meetings and negotiations proceed slower than they do in the U.S. They do not usually occur on the weekends, as that time is reserved for families.
When Mexican businessmen use the world mañana, which literally means tomorrow, they actually mean something closer to later or in the near future, according to Missouri Southern State University.
Do not throw documents on the table when negotiating; it is considered rude.
Eye contact should be maintained infrequently; staring too much is considered rude.
Do not make the O.K. hand gesture commonly used in the U.S.; it is considered vulgar.
Mexicans have a closer concept of personal space than do Americans; backing away physically from Mexican businesspeople is considered unfriendly, according to Missouri Southern State University.
Men should not initiate handshakes with women; women should initiate handshakes.
Upon initial introduction, Mexican businesspeople should be addressed by their professional title (e.g. Licenciado, Ingeniero, Abogado, etc.) followed by a surname. If they do not have such a title or one does not know it, one should use courtesy titles (e.g. Señor).
Mexican businesspeople should be addressed by their first names only when they invited the other person to do so.