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Characteristics of business etiquette in Spain

business etiquette in Spain

Stereotypes concerning the idiosyncrasies of the “Spanish mentality” are well known far beyond the borders of Spain. Commonly held ideas are that the Spanish are not punctual, are very friendly, talkative, hot-tempered, and are ready to collaborate, an extremely important quality for the business sphere. Often Spanish business people do not rely on shrewd rationality and instead are more interested in their partner’s personality. For this reason, it can be a real challenge to adhere to a preplanned schedule or to fit a business meeting into a strict time frame. Similar details shape the basics of the business etiquette in Spain - every person willing to start a business in Spain should take them into consideration.

Rules for business etiquette in Spain

Proper business etiquette in Spain presupposes the following behavior when making the first acquaintance of new business partners. Below are some important details:

  • As a rule, the first meeting begins with handshakes and the exchange of business cards. It is atypical of the Spanish to be distant when communicating, and therefore, hugs and claps on the back also can be fully appropriate;
  • The business people positioned lower on the ladder of the business hierarchy introduce themselves first. In addition, according to the norms of business etiquette in Spain, a man is the first to introduce himself to a woman;
  • «señor»/«señora» are the main forms of address according to Spanish business etiquette; The Spanish have a multi-active understanding of time. Therefore, it is not a big deal to arrive 15-30 minutes late for a meeting;
  • The Spanish follow common dress-code rules when conducting business. Hence, a strict business suit would be an ideal option for following the business etiquette of Spain.

Business attire that corresponds to the Spanish business etiquette

Business attire in Spain

For men, a classic suit in dark tones paired with a light-colored shirt with long sleeves and an accurately-selected tie (the color of which depends on the season) will be most appropriate. Light, casual attire is the common feature of the Spanish dress-code in general, but it is not the only option when it comes to meeting with business partners.

Business etiquette in Spain implies that the ideal outfit for a woman is a discreet but stylish business suit. The main requirements are the absence of large or catchy accessories, excessive make-up, and an untidy hairdo. Dark or calm pastel tones are preferred.

Proper business etiquette in Spain during business meetings

Proper business etiquette in Spain during business meetings

When addressing the business etiquette in Spain, one can adhere to several general rules:

  • Do not plan a business meeting with Spanish business partners too early or during siesta hours. The ideal timing is from 14:00 pm until 18:00 pm;
  • It is a great idea to be informed about the table reservation, prices, and menu highlights in advance;
  • Proper business etiquette in Spain implies the discussion of general topics (sports, travelling, politics, etc.) before beginning a business talk. As a rule, the inviting party plays the moderator’s role;
  • Should a business partner invite you to his or her house, it is recommended to bring a present (for example, a bottle of wine) as well as to think about small gifts for all the family members of the colleague that might be present during your visit.

Doing business in Spain presupposes certain pitfalls and nuances if one is not aware of the cultural differences. The specialists of INEEDSpain will gladly provide you with consulting services concerning administrative and technical issues related to conducting business in Spain. We are ready to assist you in the preparation of all necessary documentation to make your business even more prosperous.


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