WORKING ABROAD / JUN. 11, 2014
version 7, draft 7

How to Master Business Etiquette in Dominican Republic

Whether you're traveling to the Dominican Republic for a few days or a week, understanding the local business culture can help you build a trusting relationship with local professionals. For the most part, the business culture is fairly relaxed. However, the way locals conduct business might be slightly different from your home country. Therefore, it's important that you master the business etiquette before arriving. 

Appointments and Meetings

  • It's recommended to schedule meetings two or three weeks in advance. You can schedule meetings by phone, email or fax. 
  • Even though there is a relaxed business atmosphere in the Dominican Republic, locals will expect you to arrive for meetings and appointments on time, although it's not unusual for the person you're meeting with to arrive late.
  • Similar to other parts of the world, business in the Dominican Republic is conducted between the hours of 9 AM and 5 PM Monday through Friday. However, be aware that some businesses close for two hours during the middle of the day. Therefore, you might avoid scheduling appointments and meetings during this time.
  • Although it's possible to schedule a meeting or appointment anytime of the day, professionals in the Dominican Republic prefer early morning meetings, or lunch meetings.
  • Meetings and appointments are typically relaxed in the Dominican Republic. For that matter, it is customary to participate in small talk before starting a meeting. This provides the opportunity to know each other better, which helps build a trusting relationship. Don't be afraid to ask the person you're meeting with about his or her family or personal life. Also, it's not unusual for people to speak over each other and interrupt during meetings. Be patient if you're not used to this behavior.
  • Dominicans are status-conscious. When conducting business, you should be respectful and yielding to senior managers or higher-ranking executives. Because business people usually consult with senior colleagues after a meeting, it can take awhile to receive a decision. Additionally, it may take several meetings before business people come to a final decision.
  • When you arrive to a business meeting or appointment, the standard greeting is a firm handshake and the appropriate greeting for the day, such as buenas noches or buenos dias. Maintain good eye contact and offer a smile.

Languages

  • Many business professionals speak English in the Dominican Republic; however, Spanish is the official language.
  • If you're bringing written documentation to a meeting, it is customary to provide this information in either English or Spanish languages.
  • Business cards should be translated into Spanish if your host doesn't speak English or your language. Present business cards with the English or Spanish side facing up depending on his preferred language. Also, business cards should be protected in a case. This shows respect. 

Nepotism

Nepotism is common in the Dominican Republic and widely acceptable -- unlike other countries. In fact, getting to the top in business is often a matter of who you know, and not what you know. Therefore, it's common for Dominicans to name-drop during meetings and appointments.

Business Dress Code

Despite its tropical location and high temperatures, business attire in the Dominican Republic is conservative. It's customary for men to wear a dark business suit, and for professional women to wear business dresses. Dominican are fashion conscious. Wearing quality clothes indicates success and a higher social status. 

Gift Exchanges

In the Dominican Republic, gift-giving is not recommended when attending a meeting or an appointment. Some local professionals may view gifts as a bribe, which can destroy their trust. However, if the meeting is scheduled at the person's home, gifts are acceptable. It doesn't have to be an expensive gift, perhaps chocolate or another sweet treats. 

Dining Etiquette

Dominicans are hospitable and enjoy catering to their guests and treating them like royalty. It's not rude to arrive late to social gatherings. Therefore, if you're invited to dinner, your host will not be offended if you come 15 or 30 minutes late. It is common for multiple generations to live under one roof. In this case, greet other members of the family first. Dress casual, but nice for meals. 

  • Wait for the host to seat you
  • Don't begin eating until your host says, "enjoy" or "have a good meal"
  • It's okay to leave a small amount of food on your plate

The more you know about the culture, the easier it'll be to adapt and fit in with your foreign colleagues. 

Image Credit: Flickr

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