Business relationships & negotiation—Spain
Spain scored fairly low in the Masculinity dimension according to Hofstede. This means that the gap between gender roles is small. It also means that family and relationships are important to a Spaniard. Business takes time, because it requires a real relationship. Negotiations are thus long and tedious. Do not be alarmed if during meetings more than two people are speaking at once, as this is a normal part of the process. Doors are usually kept shut and disturbances are looked upon as inappropriate. Rules are often looked upon as guidelines rather than rigid boundaries. The Spanish prefer to solve problems on a personal level and consult regulations only as a last resort. Because you are building a bond, choose your business contact wisely, as it is very hard to switch.
When greeting, have business cards printed in both English and Spanish. Men who are close friends or long-time business colleagues will often exchange a hug or a firm handshake, while women will exchange a kiss on the cheek. Be sure to greet everyone you meet with an appropriate Buenos días (“Good morning”) or Buenas tardes (“Good afternoon”). To properly address someone, use the first name and the surname with Señor or Señora in place of Mr. or Mrs.
Time is very relaxed in Spain. It is the quality, rather than the quantity of life that is important there. Colleagues are often close friends and socialize on a personal level. A lot of decisions are made over meals, and most individuals take a siesta to allow for a relaxed afternoon before returning to work. Take advantage of this time to eat, because dinner is not served until late in the evening, usually after 9:00pm. Deadlines are met when possible and there is not a great emphasis on rushing deals. Take all the time you can; it will only benefit you.