When we planned this project it was my intention to land in Mexico and spend a couple of years here before we embarked on any business venture. This would give us ample time to acclimatise into the country, relax and become more Mexican.
You see, the world spins differently here. You may notice it when you visit on holiday, but sit down and watch what goes on around you and you’ll see that this is a different world and if you are to operate in it, you’ll need to play by a different set of rules.
What time tomorrow?
It’s difficult to nail somebody to a time for a meeting or appointment here. It’s not impossible, but it’s difficult. Many will choose to see you in the afternoon, or morning. Planning on someone coming to repair your TV, they may come tomorrow, they may not come at all.
Tomorrow at 2pm you say?
Yes, OK. You might as well go out because they invariably won’t be there. Let’s just forget this time thing, stick to days. You’ll not be disappointed, but things aren’t important here, why get stressed and hot under the collar, what were you going to do anyhow?
So! I’m going to shout. That’ll let them know who’s the boss around here.
OK. First thing you’ll notice in Mexico is that Mexicans rarely shout. It’s too hot. And it looks silly. I’ve done it myself, stood in a shop or other area where my western sensibilities have been affronted, shouting away like a purple-headed lunatic only to have the recipient burst out laughing at me then look a little bit embarrassed. Shouting will get you nowhere apart from looking like a lunatic.
I’ve sent them a dozen eMails and they’re still ignoring me!
Put the eMail away, pick up the phone. Mexicans generally don’t like conversing on eMail. With relatively few people having internet access, eMail just isn’t as
ubiquitous as it is in our tech-strewn world, it’s not used as a throw-away conversational tool like we use it.
So you have managed to get a conversation running through eMail, I was wrong.
Me: Hi – can you forward the quotes for the fence.
Thinking: I’ll send them a quick mail to get the fence quotes so I can have it on file.
Them: Hello Sir, how are you this morning. I hope your weekend was good.
I still don’t have those quotes, but hope to get them in time for the meeting on Tuesday.
I hope you enjoy the rest of your day.
Marcello Santiago Guzman
Thinking: How rude! I do have the quotes, but I want to deliver them when we meet and have a chat, I don’t wish to have my work demanded from me in a blunt and rude manner.
OK, Tuesday’s meeting – I’ll fit in 20 mins then I can get to the bank.
Ah! Twenty minutes later and they still haven’t turned up. By the time they do, you’re probably annoyed, they’re quite surprised – they’re not (that) late and they have all afternoon.
Settling down with a cup of tea the conversation starts with family, the weekend, anything really that starts the beginning of this process. To skip through this will appear rude. You’re there for the meeting, sit back and enjoy the encounter, hurrying and rushing through this will not service you in anyway.
Mexicans are extremely gregarious people, they like to talk, they still want to have wholesome meaningful relationships with people they do business with, unlike us that have reduced our business relationship to a couple of terse lines in an eMail. To do business with a Mexican person is to inherit a new friend.
Understanding this will help things run a lot smoother, we’ve found out to our cost.