Facts and Statistics
Location: Middle America, bordering the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, between
Belize and the US and bordering the North Pacific Ocean, between Guatemala and the US
Capital: Mexico City
Climate: varies from tropical to desert
Population: 104,959,594 (July 2004 est.)
Ethnic Make-up: mestizo (Amerindian-Spanish) 60%, Amerindian or predominantly Amerindian 30%,
white 9%, other 1%
Religions: nominally Roman Catholic 89%, Protestant 6%, other 5%
Government: federal republic
Language in Mexico
Spanish control of Mexico led to the dominance of Spanish, the official language. As many as 100 Native American languages are still spoken in Mexico, but no single alternative language prevails. Eighty percent of those Mexicans who speak an indigenous language also speak Spanish. The most important of the Native American languages is Nahuatl. It is the primary language of more than a million Mexicans and is spoken by nearly one-fourth of all Native Americans in the country. This is followed by Maya, used by 14 percent of Native Americans, and Mixteco and Zapoteco, each spoken by about seven percent of Native Americans. No other indigenous language is spoken by more than five percent of Mexico's Native Americans.
Mexican Society & Culture
Mexican Family Values
. The family is at the centre of the social structure.
. Outside of the major cosmopolitan cities, families are still generally large.
. The extended family is as important as the nuclear family since it provides a sense of stability.
. Mexicans consider it their duty and responsibility to help family members. For example, the will help find employment or finance a house or other large purchase.
. Most Mexican families are extremely traditional, with the father as the head, the authority figure and the decision-maker.
. Mothers are greatly revered, but their role may be seen as secondary to that of their husband.
. Mexican society and business are highly stratified and vertically structured.
. Mexicans emphasize hierarchical relationships.
. People respect authority and look to those above them for guidance and decision-making.
. Rank is important, and those above you in rank must always be treated with respect.
. This makes it important to know which person is in charge, and leads to an authoritarian approach to decision-making and problem- solving.
. Mexicans are very aware of how each individual fits into each hierarchy--be it family, friends or business.
. It would be disrespectful to break the chain of hierarchy.
. Machismo literally means 'masculinity'.
. There are different outward behaviours to display machismo.
. For example, making remarks to women is a stereotypical sign of machismo and should not be seen as harassment.
. Mexican males generally believe that nothing must be allowed to tarnish their image as a man.
Etiquette & Customs in Mexico
. When greeting in social situations, women pat each other on the right forearm or shoulder, rather than shake hands
. Men shake hands until they know someone well, at which time they progress to the more traditional hug and back slapping.
. Wait until invited before using a Mexican's first name
Gift Giving Etiquette
. If invited to a Mexican's house, bring a gift such as flowers or sweets.
. Gift wrapping does not follow any particular protocol.
. Do not give marigolds as they symbolize death.
. Do not give red flowers as they have a negative connotation.
. White flowers are a good gift as they are considered uplifting.
. Gifts are opened immediately.
. If you receive a gift, open it and react enthusiastically.
If you are invited to a Mexican's home:
. Arrive 30 minutes late in most places (check with colleagues to see if you should arrive later than that).
. Arriving on time or early is considered inappropriate.
. At a large party you may introduce yourself.
. At a smaller gathering the host usually handles the introductions.
Watch your table manners!
. Always keep your hands visible when eating. Keep your wrists resting on the edge of the table.
. When you have finished eating, place your knife and fork across your plate with the prongs facing down and the handles facing to the right.
. Do not sit down until you are invited to and told where to sit.
. Do not begin eating until the hostess starts.
. Only men give toasts.
. It is polite to leave some food on your plate after a meal.
Business Etiquette and Protocol in Mexico
Relationships & Communication
. The right connections facilitate business success.
. You will be judged by the person who introduces you and changing this first impression is nearly impossible.
. Since the initial meeting is generally with someone of high stature, it is important that your delegation include an upper-level executive.
. After the initial getting-to-know-you meeting, the senior executive may not attend meetings or be visible.
. This indicates you are now getting down to business and they are no longer needed to smooth the introduction.
. Demonstrating trustworthiness, sincerity, and integrity are crucial to building relationships.
. Expect to answer questions about your personal background, family and life interests.
Business Meeting Etiquette
. Business appointments are required and should be made at least 2 weeks in advance. Reconfirm the appointment one week before the meeting.
. Reconfirm the meeting again once you arrive in Mexico and make sure that the secretary of the person you will be meeting knows how to contact you.
. It is important that you arrive on time for meetings, although your Mexican business associates may be up to 30 minutes late.
. Do not appear irritated if this occurs as people often run behind schedule.
. Meetings may be postponed with little advance warning.
. Initial meetings are formal.
. Have all written material available in both English and Spanish.
. Agendas are not common. If they are given, they are not always followed.
. Since Mexicans are status conscious, you should always have someone on your negotiating team who is an executive.
. If you do not speak Spanish, hire an interpreter.
. It will take several meetings to come to an agreement.
. Face-to-face meetings are preferred over telephone, letters or email.
. Negotiations and decisions take a long time. You must be patient.
. Deadlines are seen as flexible and fluid, much like time itself.
. Negotiations will include a fair amount of haggling. Do not give your best offer first.
. Do not include an attorney on your negotiating team.
. Dress as you would in Europe.
. Men should wear conservative, dark coloured suits.
. Women should wear business suits or conservative dresses.
. Business cards are exchanged during introductions with everyone at a meeting.
. It is advisable to have one side of your business card in Spanish.
. Business cards should contain both your professional and educational qualifications.
. Present your business card with the Spanish side facing the recipient.
Being a Manager in Mexico
Effective cross cultural management needs to bear in mind the hierarchical business set up in Mexico. This means that you or a senior colleague should try to identify and gain access to the key decision-maker from the outset. Expect there to be rather strict adherence of protocol and ritual. This is a culture where personal introductions are important. Much communication will be situation-specific and there will be little open disagreement, at least in public.
At initial meetings, it is important that your delegation include an upper-level executive, who may be supported by mid-level executives. After the initial getting-to-know-you meeting, the senior executive does not need to attend meetings or be visible. This indicates you are now getting down to business and they are no longer needed to smooth the introduction.
Demonstrating trustworthiness, sincerity, and integrity are crucial to building relationships. Expect to answer questions about your personal background, family and interests. Mexicans are more concerned about your personal character and reputation than the status of the company you represent. The exception to this rule is multinational companies, where the name of the company and market position is paramount.
The Role of a Manager
When working in Mexico, cross cultural management needs to realize the importance of each person’s distinct role within the organization. People believe that their supervisors have been chosen because they have more experience than those they manage, and it is, therefore, unnecessary, and even inappropriate for them to consult with lower-ranking individuals when decision-making.
Managers and supervisors give clear-cut directions and in return, employees provide what is expected of them. Subordinates follow established precedent and company directives.
In Mexico, as in other hierarchical societies, managers may take a somewhat paternalistic attitude to their employees.
Approach to Change
Mexico’s intercultural tolerance and readiness for change is apparent although Mexico remains a country that is cautious in its business dealings. Changes are made, albeit slowly, and require a considerable amount of thought, planning and evaluation.
The fear of exposure and the potential of embarrassment that may accompany failure mean intercultural sensitivity is needed. While in risk-tolerant environments, failure is perceived as a learning process that encourages confidence in future ventures, failure in Mexico causes a long-term loss of confidence by the individual as well as by others.
Approach to Time and Priorities
Mexico is a fluid time culture, and, as is the case with many fluid time cultures, it is also very relationship-oriented. People in Mexico will not want to upset others in order to push through a deadline.
Global and intercultural means that some managers may have a greater appreciation of the need to enforce timescales and as such, agreed deadlines are more likely to be met.
Since business is hierarchical, it impacts the structure and pace of decision-making. In meetings, subordinates demonstrate deference and respect towards those of a higher level.
Especially in smaller, regional or local companies, the president may assume a role akin to that of father. His employees want to know that someone is taking care of them and looking out for their welfare and expect this. In return, the owner of the company makes all major decisions.
Boss or Team Player
When meeting together and moderating ideas, it is important to qualify ideas that are raised in a gentle manner, protecting the reputation of those bringing up ideas, so no one is shamed. Intercultural sensitivity is important and it is worth remembering that praise should be given to the entire group as well, and not to individuals.
Communication and Negotiation Styles
Since Mexicans are status conscious, you should have someone on your negotiating team who is an executive for initial meetings. Who you know is often more important than what you know. If you do not speak Spanish fluently, hire an interpreter to avoid any cross cultural miscommunication. Expect hand gestures and light physical contact as a part of communications. In discussions Mexicans may appear open to new ideas. However, this may not translate into new actions or opinions. Never throw documents on the table during a business meeting as this is seen as highly offensive. Decisions should always be followed by written agreements.
Useful Information and Links about Mexico
* Currency - the currency of Mexico is known as the Peso. Use the free currency converter to compare to dollars, GBP or Euro.
* Weather - visit Yahoo!'s up to date Weather for Mexico.
* News - check out all the latest Google news on Mexico.
* Dialling Code - the international dialling code for Mexico is +52.
* Time - Mexico is -6 hours GMT.
* Hotels - Hotels in Mexico.
* History - read about the long and rich history of Mexico.
information provided by www.kwintessential.co.uk