Paraguay is a landlocked country in South America with a population of over 6.6 million people. For people who are interested in doing business in this country, it is important to fully comprehend the proper etiquette to follow. This article will address how to master business etiquette in Paraguay.
In Paraguay, the official languages are Spanish and also Guarani. However, most of the writing is done in the Spanish language. It is important to make a concerted effort to try to understand some basic Spanish before doing business in this country.
Regarding greetings, there are certain customs that need to be followed. When a man greets another man, they should shake hands and maintain direct eye contact. A handshake will suffice for a first meeting. However, for those professionals who are more accustomed to each other, they may offer a slight touch on the arm or the elbow. Robust hugs are usually reserved for family members or good friends. When a woman greets a woman during a first time meeting, a light handshake will suffice. Professional etiquette dictates that the handshake should be accompanied by a warm smile and a slight nod. Female friends or family members usually kiss each other on both cheeks. When a man greets a woman during a first meeting, they exchange a regular handshake.
In Paraguay, it is customary that an indirect communication style is used rather than a direct style. Make sure your implications are followed by actually stating your thoughts and opinions. It is customary to avoid confrontations at all costs and to be diligent in maintaining your composure. Even though Paraguayans show emotions and are affectionate among their family and close friends, they typically act more reserved in public settings.
When it comes to business attire, there are certain customs that should be followed. Proper attire for men is conservative suits that are blue, gray or brown in color, along with a white or light blue dress shirt. Conservative ties should also be worn. Women are expected to wear either pants suits or dresses with an elegant style. Most women in the country wear heels rather than flats and they also wear makeup and pantyhose. Good hygiene and a professional groomed appearance are especially valued. Jeans and shorts are not acceptable to wear in the workplace or a business setting.
With regard to handing out business cards, there are no specific customs. However, individuals wanting to do business in Paraguay should be prepared to hand out a business card to all those in attendance at business meetings. It is important to address people with the appropriate title. If the individual does not have a title—such as for a lawyer or doctor—remember to address them as senor, senora or senorita, along with their surname.
Abiding by proper etiquette with regard to business meetings is also important. Be cognizant of arriving on time for meetings; even if you have to wait for a bit before your host arrives. Individuals should begin with friendly small talk which can help in establishing a good rapport. Business discussions will begin after the initial chat. The host will initiate the business conversation. Paraguayans believe cultivating personal relationship is more important than business relationships. Whenever possible, refrain from discussing both religion and politics.
It is not expected that you bring a gift to an initial business meeting. However, if you are invited to a Paraguayan home, you should bring a gift such as—wine, chocolates, flowers or high quality liquor. Be sure to make your gift presentable and nicely wrapped. You can expect that the host will open the gift right away. There are some types of gifts that you should avoid. Knives, scissors or letter openers are considered symbolic of severing relationships.
In Paraguayan culture, it is important that individuals avoid the hard sell and refrain from any type of confrontation or conflict. Paraguayans usually respond better to a soft sell instead. Maintaining your dignity or self-respect is highly valued in Paraguay. Subsequently, do not be stunned if the meeting appears to be flowing smoothly and the host is agreeing with you; yet no contract is signed. You should realize that the final decisions in the business realm are made by the high ranking officers of the company. Try to have them included in the business meeting as well.
When doing business in Paraguay, it is vital that you make every effort to follow all of the customs and proper etiquette. Remember to observe their indirect communication style as well as the conservative dress etiquette. You will increase your chances of success immensely if you follow the etiquette steps mentioned in this article.