WORKING ABROAD / SEP. 12, 2014
version 3, draft 3

How to Master Business Etiquette in Puerto Rico

Today, Puerto Rico enjoys one of the most dynamic economies in the Caribbean region as it focuses on agricultural, tourism, manufacturing and pharmaceutical industries. In recent years, U.S. mainland and foreign companies have invested quite heavily in Puerto Rico.

With its own individual cultural and customs, it is important that you follow the correct business etiquette in order to have a successful business venture in Puerto Rico.

Communication

The primary languages spoken in Puerto Rico are Spanish and English.

Although this may appear to be aggressive and fierce in the U.S. mainland, Puerto Ricans tend to communicate in a very direct, loud and quick manner. They speak extraordinarily swiftly, and usually gesture quite a bit throughout conversations.

Individuals usually stand at an arm’s length from each other during meetings. However, this space closes the better you know someone. People also expect each other to maintain direct eye contact because it represents respect and interest, while indirect eye contact is viewed as being evasive.

Dress Code

Style is important to Puerto Ricans, and informal wear is appropriate in several industries. In general, men will sport conservative, dark clothing – some will wear a guayabera shirt with nice slacks. Women, meanwhile, will dress in classic yet modern business suits or dresses.

Greetings

Upon meeting someone for the first time, men will take part in a simple handshake and a nod of acknowledgement. Women, on the other hand, will greet each other with a succinct hug and a kiss on the cheek.

Professional Titles & Business Cards

Titles are very important to the general public. This is why it is imperative to address individuals by Mr., Mrs. and Miss (senor, senora and senorita) followed by their surname – or people can address others by their professional title, like doctor, followed by their last name.

When it comes to business cards, there are only two factors to consider: translating one side of your business card to Spanish, though some aren’t as stringent as others, and be respectful of the card you receive, which means not to write, fold, crumple or lose it.

Punctuality

Maintaining a stellar record of being on time isn’t necessarily important to the average Puerto Rican. Much of the population tends to be late in both business and personal situations because they place more importance on people and relationships rather than established schedules and set agendas.

Puerto Rico is a beautiful place to live and do business in. Although its governmental situation is in pandemonium at the present time, there are a lot of opportunities for the territory to make strides in. It’s possible that in the coming years it could enter into American statehood, and thus receive relief from the treacherous shackles of debt and deficits.

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


Image: istock

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