Spain is one of the best countries to know, enjoy, admire… and do business. Many people visit the Iberian Peninsula for various reasons, but when it comes to doing business, you need to know the etiquette. Here’s a little guide to getting it right, according to Gayle Cotton. She is a cross-cultural specialist and wrote “Say Anything to Anyone, Anywhere. 5 Keys to Successful Cross-Cultural Communication”.
Doing business in Spain
To begin with, many businesses tend to close between 1 and 4 pm, time dedicated to eating with your family and even siesta. With respect to punctuality, you may find that in Spain there is a slight delay. Special care must be taken with the regional differences of the country, to avoid confusing one inhabitant with another. As for the presentation, formality is important… but when it is done for the first time. In this case, a confident but brief handshake will suffice.
There are fewer women in managerial positions, and cordiality and respect should be maintained towards them. When there is more confidence, it is normal to pat the arm or shoulder when speaking. There is a hierarchical business culture in Spain, where the bosses are in charge of decision making. Subordinates take their role and are in charge of solving possible inconveniences. This type of structure must be respected. It is important to adapt to the country’s business practices, showing respect for its culture and even its religion.
Spanish culture does not start talking business from the beginning: it is preferable to get to know each other, but with respect and cordiality. Moreover, they do not tend to change their minds easily, but negotiation may be necessary. Interruption should not be frowned upon, but should be taken either as a paraphrase or an interest in the conversation.
How to start a solid business relationship in Spain
As stated before, it does not start just like that, but it is necessary to create the right atmosphere where both parties get to know each other. To do this, it is necessary to establish eye contact to indicate interest. Topics such as sports (soccer), art, music, architecture or talking about the qualities of the country will be key issues. Talking about your travels, your own country of origin, Spanish food and wine will also be key.
On the other hand, it should be kept in mind that during the negotiation or decision making process it may seem slow at times. This is because it requires consultation with other levels of hierarchy and analysis of a proposal. Even if all goes well, there may be an exchange of gifts. It is important then to establish a good relationship from the outset, whether over lunch, dinner or other social gatherings.
ISEA: bridging business culture with Spain
Notwithstanding the above, the current business culture in Spain is transforming. Since the emergence of a large number of startups that have adopted modern organizational models. In addition, there is a greater openness to capture talent from other countries… and with a different business vision. In addition, new business leaders are trained abroad, enriching their mentality and that of the company.
One of the leading associations that serve as a link or bridge to do business between Spain and Ireland is ISEA. ISEA or Ireland Spain Economic Association, since 1989 has promoted a business and investment culture between the two countries. To this end, it carries out various events and activities of interest and maintains contact with The Spain Ireland Business Club. Proudly, most of the leading business companies of the two nations are among its members. Therefore, being a member of ISEA has a special relevance. Learn more about our proposals, projects, perspectives and alliances on our website.