In Spain, the time is… very Spanish, and it doesn’t run in a linear fashion. Spanish people tend to implement actions where many activities are expected to run at the same time, and priority will definitely be given to the more prompt needs of people.
Spanish usually do not stick to the schedule, and meetings may run over time. But if you have good relationships with them, your task will be a priority for them. Overall, this attitude can be interpreted as the “mañana” syndrome, but it is not about laziness or something else – it is just that Spanish people prioritize things in different way.
Business in Spain is done in a more relaxed way when compared to other Western European nations. So be prepared for long and time-consuming negotiations. You should prepare a flexible schedule for yourself when running business meetings in Spain, because usually they like to get to know your business partners before the negotiations.
Follow the steps below in order to adjust to their culture and run successful meetings with the Spaniards.
- Planning a meeting
- Make your appointment in advance and confirm it by letter, fax or email just your arrival
- The best time to set up a meeting is around mid-morning, so that you can avoid any issues arising from the famous Spanish ‘siesta’ breaks
- Check both the regional and local calendars, in case of holidays, before you arrange a meeting in Spain
- Hierarchy and position is highly valued there, so you should always try to meet with a senior manager, if you want to reach an important decision
- The initial meeting is not about business, but more about building relationships with your Spanish counterparts
- If you have an agenda, you can forget about it being followed during the meeting
- Remember, first you should strengthen interpersonal relationships
- Negotiation process
- Meetings usually begin with general topics and about getting to know each other
- Don’t be surprised if no business will be discussed
- Focus on building trust and relationships
- Feelings and relationships play an important role in the business negotiations
- Watch out for their non-verbal communication, because Spanish people usually don’t speak in a very direct fashion
- Watch for your body language as well, because you will be also observed
- Expect for your Spanish partners to review all the details, until they finally understand everything
- The decision is made by a senior member
- Follow up
- Go out with your Spanish business partners after the meeting – e.g. dinner, lunch
- Try to learn more about Spain and Spanish culture You may get an important decision anywhere, even in a social event
- After the meeting send your partners a letter to express thanks, by doing this you will show them that you are really interested in making business with them
And last but not least, during the meeting you will find that many people will speak at the same time, interrupting each other. But this is not considered to be rude in Spain; it is just a cultural phenomenon that means that they are genuinely interested in the topic.
Do you want to know how to run meetings and projects in North American and European cultures, Latin and Arab cultures and Asian cultures?
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