The population of Colombia is made out of 58% mestizo, 14% mulatto and 20% European. This does dictate a large part of the business etiquette that has to be respected. Official language is Spanish but there are Amerindians that only speak native languages. The good news is that most of the businessmen do understand English. You should not have many problems that you would have to deal with in the event that you want to communicate properly with people in Columbia.
The business world in Colombia is quite similar to what you see in the other Latin America countries. Uncertainty avoidance, low individualism and large power distances are common. Society does have a focus put on controls, regulations and rules. Change is not accepted fast. A really high emphasis will be put on creating a close tie with an individual or strong relationships with a person that would take responsibility for all the actions that a member of the group does.
Colombian society highlights some strong differences in wealth and power among people. Masculinity ranking is really high and there is a clear gender differentiation that is present. In the power structure you will see males dominating society.
Business Clothes Rules To Remember
Formal wear increases in popularity as you move towards inland. Conservative business attire is necessary in most regions with dark coloured suits being preferred. You can expect Colombians to stay closer to you as you talk and you should never yawn when in public. Women often hold forearms instead of handshakes and if you see that a person taps elbows with fingers, it means that something is seen as being stingy.
Business Manners And Behaviour
When doing business in Colombia, it is really important that you schedule all business meetings in advance. While punctuality is not that strict, if you are a foreigner, Colombians expect you to be there at the discussed time. Make sure that business cards will have one side in Spanish and one side in English. It is a good idea to present the card with the Spanish side facing up.
The most important meal of the day in Colombia is lunch. Because of this, many business meals are held at that time. If you invite someone for a restaurant meal, you are expected to pay. Hosts should always make the very first toast.
Business Communication In Colombia
Colombians will spend their time when greeting as this is seen as a sign of respect. Do expect a longer handshake and overall greeting process. You have to include titles in the business card. Try to use the title when you address someone. For instance, use professor for a teacher or arguitecto for an architect. If you do not know the title you should use the Spanish names for mister, misses and miss.
During casual conversation do not talk about bullfighting as that is a popular activity. If you are looking for good conversation topics, do talk about gold museum, coffee, culture, soccer or history. Never discus religion, politics or drug traffic.