Mexico Business Etiquette and Dress Code

This is the third part of LLM Info’s series on international business etiquette and customs. Previously, we covered Brazil Business Etiquette and Dress Code and UK Business Etiquette and Dress Code.

If you are planning to travel to Mexico on business, it is critical to learn as much as possible about the the country’s business etiquette and appropriate dress code to avoid offending anyone and to handle your business matters as a consummate professional. Here are some key cultural norms and traditions that are important to keep in mind for Mexico business etiquette to ensure that you make the most efficient use of your time there.

Proper Etiquette

Mexican culture places emphasis on hierarchy and rank, so paying attention to these unspoken rules are an important part of Mexico business etiquette. Those who work in highly ranked positions demand respect, and anyone who attempts to break tradition is considered very disrespectful.

Your first meeting will likely involve the most highly ranked business people or officials in the country. With rank being such a significant part of Mexican culture, it is important to shake hands firmly or bow slightly upon meeting someone for the first time. Men should always bow to women unless she offers her hand first.

Once you’ve been introduced to everyone, it is the cultural norm to stand in close proximity to the people you are talking to. In addition, it is important to stand with your hands out of your pockets.  Never stand with your hands on your hips either, as that is considered rude.

Meetings typically begin 15 minutes after casual conversation, and negotiations are often slow. Always get any promises in writing, rather than relying on verbal agreements. Most deals are made in person.

Gift Giving Etiquette

If you are invited to a business dinner at someone’s home, you should always send flowers to the home prior to your arrival or bring the flowers with you. Avoid giving red flowers (associated with spells), yellow flowers and marigolds, which represent death, and purple flowers, which symbolize funerals. White is the ideal color because it represents purity and positive feelings.

During the dinner, always keep your hands above the table, and do not get up immediately after eating. Instead, eat slowly and take your time, making sure to leave some food on your place when you are done, while avoiding too much alcohol.

Additionally, if you’ve been invited to a dinner, it is appropriate to take the hosts out to dinner another time to show your appreciation. Other gifts are not necessary, though they are appreciated, especially non-personal, company-branded gifts.

Business Dress

Lastly, it is important to dress for success. The way you dress not only reveals your status in society but also offers a good first impression. Men should wear a dress shirt and tie for every occasion, unless it is a casual occasion. Women should also dress conservatively. Navy blue and dark gray are the most appropriate colors.

In sum, any business trip to Mexico should be a successful one, so long as you keep the aforementioned cultural traditions and Mexico business etiquette rules in mind.