WORKING ABROAD / AUG. 09, 2014
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How to Master Business Etiquette in Aruba

Aruba tree on beach
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Anyone who is stuck in the middle of a dreary winter – similar to what we experienced this year – yearns to be living and working in a warm climate, like the Caribbean island nation of Aruba. Aruba may not be the epicentre of international finance, but it is a tropical paradise for American, British and Canadian workers imprisoned at the office in January, February and March.

Think of it: going from bitter cold, constant snow and eight layers of clothing just to go outside to sunshine, warm temperatures and beautiful weather all year around would be majestic to millions all over the world. Who wouldn’t want these kinds of working conditions?

Aruba is located off the Paraguana peninsula of Venezuela and is 30 km (19 miles) long and about 8 km (5 miles) wide with an area of 193 sq km (75 sq miles). It maintains a population of 101,000. Its two primary economic hubs are tourism and offshore banking and the country has a gross domestic product of $2.51 billion.

If you’re considering a career move, launching business relationships or doing business with the government, then here are five business etiquettes to know in Aruba:

Communication

There are five languages spoken in Aruba, predominantly Papiamento (a Spanish-Portuguese-Dutch-English dialect), which is spoken by more than two-thirds of Aruba. The other languages include Spanish, English and Dutch.

The way an Aruban will communicate with you depends upon how well they know you. If they are very familiar with whom you are then they will tend to be more direct and less evasive in the topic at hand. It is also important to maintain direct eye contact throughout a conversation as it is considered good manners.

Dress Code

Despite being entrenched with good weather, it is not appropriate to wear jeans, shorts or sandals. In fact, business attire for men consists of suits, conservative shirts and ties, while for women it is necessary to wear dresses, blouses and a jacket with heeled-shoes.

Greetings

It is absolutely imperative to say good morning, afternoon and/or evening when arriving and to say have a good day/after/night when leaving. If these words are not uttered then you will be considered quite rude, and perhaps already labeled as an uncouth person to ignore.

Professional Titles & Business Cards

The common titles to iterate are Mr. and Mrs. followed by the person’s last name.

When it comes to business cards, there are no outlined rules, but it is believed that when a card is given then it should be treated with the utmost respect. This means that it shouldn’t be bent, ripped or tossed aside but rather placed inside a wallet and kept in a pristine condition.

Punctuality

Although Arubans aren’t strict for time and don’t view a schedule as unyielding, there is still an unwritten rule whereby a person is provided with a 15- to 20-minute leeway. Once that time is up then there should be notice provided. In other words, be prompt for an appointment, and if you’re late then offer a sufficient reason.

Aruba may have an advantage over most people who are confined to the climate of harsh cold and brutal snowstorms, but they do maintain some of the same customs that most Westerners abide by today: prompt, polite and professional.

Have you previously conducted business in Aruba? Let us know in the comment section.

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