Doing business in Mexico

Time allotted for business travel in Mexico should be padded generously – not only because of the high volume of traffic and the long journey times in Mexico City. Also, the business meetings themselves take much longer than you may be used to.

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First of all, meetings are perceived as a good opportunity to present oneself. In Mexico, it’s all about convincing through eloquence and charisma. 

Secondly, Mexicans feel a great need for explanation. Each point is adressed and viewed from many different angles.

In addition, most topics are discussed in a rather unstructured way. There might be an agenda, but it offers no more than a rough overview of what is of interest in that meeting. 

Address urgent topics now

However, any topic that is not included in the agenda may be put forward in the meeting as well. Mexicans strongly believe that issues which bear a certain urgency should be addressed immediately, and not much later, when the item officially made it onto the agenda. Mexicans strictly live in the present. 

The here and now

Therefore, meetings can go on indefinitely, regardless of what times are mentioned on the meeting invitation. Later appointments or obligations of the participants are meaningless. What matters is the here and now. It would be extremely rude to look impatiently at the clock or to break off the meeting to get somewhere else.

Solutions on the fly

The focus on the here and now is also noticeable in project work. Mexicans have little use for detailed schedules and deadline pressure.

If a problem arises, solutions may be attempted on the fly. Long-term planning of individual steps is not a priority in Mexican business culture.

Therefore, at project meetings Mexican participants often cannot comment in detail. Often, from the foreign business partner’s point of view, this looks like unpreparedness. This impression can be reinforced by differences in the communication style.

In countries that use a rather direct communication style, the focus is often on facts, figures and milestones. Mexicans, on the other hand, communicate very indirectly; instead of getting to the point quickly, they hint at things. 

Improvisation is competence

As a result, in meetings individual positions are not always clear. Approximate numbers are regarded as sufficient and, if somebody demonstrates improvisational talent, this is much more appreciated than any competence in detailed planning and presenting!

Thus, in meetings and project cooperations with Mexicans, cultural background knowledge helps a lot to correctly understand and interpret any information that is exchanged. 

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