Language, Culture, Customs and Etiquette
(taken from http://www.kwintessential.co.uk/resources/global-etiquette/mexico-country-profile.html)
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
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%,
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.
Why not learn some useful Spanish
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
. 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
. 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
. Mexicans emphasize hierarchical relationships.
. People respect authority and look to those above them for guidance and
. Rank is important, and those above you in rank must always be treated
. 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
. Expect to answer questions about your personal background, family and
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
. 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
. Present your business card with the Spanish side facing the recipient.
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.
* Translation Services - do you need a Spanish Translation
* News - check out all the latest Google
news on Mexico.
* Intercultural Know-how - use the Intercultural
Business Communication tool for tips on doing business in Mexico.
* Dialling Code - the international dialling code for Mexico
* Time - Mexico is -6 hours GMT.
* Management - for information about being a manager in Mexico
visit the free Management
in Mexico guide.
* Hotels - Hotels in
* History - read about the long and rich history of Mexico.