Negotiations in Mexico will be conducted successfully if you are aware some of the country’s cultural idiosyncrasies and know how to adapt to them.

Preparations for the Meeting

It is a common practice to request business meetings in Mexico up to one month in advance.  Scheduling an encounter in this manner will allow for ample time to become familiar with the other party’s commercial and financial information.  It is also a good practice to seek out personal data of the individual or individuals with whom the meeting will be held.  Additionally, it is common practice to confirm the meeting a few days ahead of time.

Preparation for a first meeting is absolutely essential prior to doing business in Mexico.  It is extremely important to make a good first and lasting impression, as well as to project a viable image of credibility and confidence.  For this reason, adequate preparation must include the establishment of the meeting’s objectives and subsequent plans for specific actions to be taken during the session.  A demonstrated knowledge of the negotiating partner’s business and products and/or services is also a prerequisite for attaining success.

It is also important that, during the course of the negotiations, the same person or team of individuals is a party to the talks.  Mexican businessmen like to establish, develop, and maintain “friendship” ties with the people with whom they negotiate.  Changing personnel after a round of negotiations has begun can hinder the process.  The establishment of personal relationships that often extend outside of the context of business is commonplace in Mexico.

Finally, attire for the meeting should be formal and customary business dress.

Considerations for the Meeting

When going to the meeting to negotiate in Mexico, it is important to arrive at the agreed upon place on time.  This is so even if the other party may be delayed.  If this is the case, it will be helpful to use this additional time to prepare the points that must be covered during the negotiating session. 

When making the initial greeting, it is important to be aware of the name and the position of each individual present.  It is also customary to shake hands and to maintain eye contact with each person. 

Another aspect to consider to successfully negotiate in Mexico is the demonstration of good manners and courteous behavior at all times.  This is especially true when showing deference to older individuals and senior members of the opposing negotiating team.  Also, important is the demonstration of clarity and transparency.  This will give confidence to the parties to the negotiation that all promises made will be promises that are kept. 

Prior to embarking on the main topic of business, small talk may be made so that everyone in the room gets to know each other and becomes comfortable with one another.  It is not inadvisable to be pushy or to immediately “get down to brass tacks.”  The pace of negotiations in Mexico is often characterized as being somewhat slower than what might be found in a US business environment.

During Negotiations in Mexico

In order to successfully seal a business deal in Mexico, it is of the utmost importance to make a concerted effort to continue to create a climate of trust for all of those that are involved in the process.  This can be further achieved by taking the time to speak of issues that have to do with each other’s country, family, and other pertinent issues.  Characteristically, Mexican businessmen desire that a long-term and mutually beneficial relationship results from a negotiation.  For this reason, Mexican businessmen look create a situation of “win-win” for everyone.

After the initial handshake, it is customary to give and to receive business cards to and from each party.  When receiving the business cards of negotiating counterparts, it is critical to take note of each person’s professional title.  Mexican businessmen give great importance to them.  

At the beginning of a relationship, when greeting individuals, their titles should be used.  As the ties between the negotiating partners become stronger, the handshake, a customary hug, and first names are sufficient.  Also, it is important to be aware that Mexicans are warm and welcoming, and therefore, it is completely acceptable for them to stand at a considerably closer physical distance than is the case in the US.

One of the most important things to be aware of when taking part in negotiations in Mexico is that Mexican businessmen often do not like to say “no” explicitly.   Although it’s often considered to be impolite, it is more common to get a straight “no” in larger cities.  Even there, however, a negotiating counterpart may say “yes,” when, in fact, he or she means “no.”  Because of this, it is important to be able to read tone of voice and body language.  These are skills that will become more developed through time and with greater exposure to the Mexican culture