Monday, October 25, 2010

Mexican Business Etiquette: How to Greet Someone in Mexico

I find that a lot of people come to the Mexipreneur site in search of etiquette tips, so today I'm going to cover something that is a huge source of confusion for a lot of people - the greeting.  In the United States and Canada, when meeting someone you are going to do business with the typical greeting is to shake hands.

After spending sometime in Mexico, you will notice that men and women greet eachother with a kiss on the cheek.  This is the typical greeting of friends and family (sometimes accompanied with a hug!).

Navigating how to greet people in the business world can be tricky because if you are meeting someone for the first time you really can't be considered friends, so what do you do?  If you are a woman, do you kiss your Mexican business colleague on the cheek or just shake hands?  It's funny because many Mexicans are used to foreigners being uncomfortable with the "kiss on the cheek" greeting, so they will go ahead and shake your hand before you even have time to overanalyze how to handle the greeting. 

You know what they say..."when in Rome, do as the Romans do."  I would encourage you to follow local customs when it comes to greeting potential business partners.  If you are a man, the standard handshake will do.  If you've become good friends or have known the person for awhile, the handshake will be accompanied with a pat on the back.  The best thing you can do is be observant.  Before you know it you will become so comfortable that you'll look back and laugh about how you stressed over a simple greeting.

A fantastic book that covers doing business in over 60 countries is Kiss, Bow or Shake Hands.  This book is a must read for anyone involved in international business.

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