Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mexico Business Etiquette: Ready, Set, WAIT!

It's 9:50am.  You arrive at the building, excited at the prospect of the business relationship you are about to develop in Mexico.  You give your name to the receptionist and let her know you are there for your 10am meeting.  She politely smiles and tells you to have a seat.  You sit down and start thumbing through the industry magazines on the table next to you.  10am comes and goes, 10:15...10:30...10:45...What is going on?  You start to tap your feet and try to make eye contact with the receptionist who is busy doing her own thing.  Did he forget the meeting?  Surely not, you confirmed a couple of days ago.  Did something else come up?  Not likely - or the receptionist would have told you.

For those doing business in Mexico this is probably one of the hardest lessons to learn - the difference in the concept of time.  Sometimes the wait is intentional.  For example, many times retail buyers will make you wait on purpose just to show you how "important" they are.  Silly power trip?  Yes, but it is a way of life in Mexico and you must learn to roll with it if you are going to be successful.  Other times, the wait is due to circumstances out of their control, like traffic.  In Mexico City, sometimes going to the same place can take 30 minutes or up to 2 hours!  Imagine trying to plan your day knowing that. 

My advice for foreigners doing business in Mexico?  Be patient, learn to go with the flow, and always bring something to read! :)

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