Mexico – research is critical!
Although 80% of Mexican exports are bound for the USA, Mexico is a country unique unto itself with a very distinct approach and business outlook, so it is a very good idea to do some research into the ingredients that make the country so radically different before trying to do business there.
Great emphasis is placed on the value of personal relationships and Mexico is definitely a country where relationships need to be firmly in place before significant business will follow.
Indigenous Mexican culture tends very much towards the hierarchical in both personal interactivity and the way in which business is structured. Expect that the organisation you are dealing with to have a centralised decision-making approach with important decisions being made by a few key individuals at the top of the company.
Punctuality is less rigid than in certain other cultures and it is not unusual for meetings to start late and run over the allotted time. This level of uncertainty can make it difficult when scheduling a number of meetings on one day.
If an agenda is produced there will be little expectation that it will be followed! Meetings are seen as opportunities for the free flow of ideas and information. Open signs of emotion, through the use of interruptions and speaking loudly, are seen as a sign of active engagement rather than an unnecessary loss of control. It is not uncommon for small side-meetings to occur during a larger meeting or for people to interrupt colleagues in mid-sentence.
Mexicans are quite status conscious and successful people are expected to look successful. Dress is, therefore, of great importance and it is vital to look smart in both business and social situations.