Negociar (negotiating) is one of the most common reasons to travel to a foreign country for a businessperson. In such a globalized world, international relationships are the key to evolve and develop as a modern and influential company.

In spite of this, it’s never easy to understand a different culture, even more if you are putting at risk the future of your capital. You shouldn’t greet a Japanese businessman in the same way you do in USA, nor speak to an English manager using the same tone or volumen than an Arabic one. Today, will give you some tips in order to manage a proper negotiation in Spain.

Allá donde fueres, haz lo que vieres (when in Rome, do as the Romans): this is the best advise. However, you might need to come to Spain in order to lead a negotiation but maybe you’ve never been here. You may wonder how Spaniards are. Well, this is what you need to now:

  1. Puntualidad (punctuality): you should arrange the meeting in advance and it’s recommended even to remind it to the other party some days before. Punctuality is not the biggest virtue of Spaniards but large delays are not acceptable. So, about 10-minutes delay is considered normal.
  1. Saludos (greetings): un apretón de manos (a handshake) is the neutral way to greet the other party. If it’s not the first meeting and a degree of trust has been reached between a man and a woman, one kiss on each cheek is approved.
  1. Romper el hielo (breaking the ice): we often start the meetings with some trivial conversations, such as the weather, the visitors’ travel or latest news. Be careful, try not to talk about controversial topics: terrorism, immigration or territorial secession problems.
  1. Contactos (networking): if you can have the trust of the other party’s colleagues and they have references and recommendations of your company, this will make things easier. Spaniards are very unwilling to give you important details about their corporations, so it’s better to have that work done before the meeting.
  1. Tono de la conversación (tone during the conversation): it’s usually formal but relaxed. At the key points of the deal, Spanish negotiators can seem very serious and focused, although the rest of the meeting has been friendly and almost informal.
  1. Resolución (decision): Spanish business culture is not used to prepare very detailed contracts for the negotiations. This is because of our complex legal system. It’s not unusual to solve problems with extralegal solutions.
  1. La comida (the meal): traditionally, the person who arranges the business meal should start the conversation and pay the bill. It’s not normal to split it. The business talking is set at the end, during la sobremesa (table talk). Keep in mind that la comida can be an extension of the negotiations, therefore, be careful with alcoholic drinks and rude behaviours.
  1. Margen de negociación (negotiation margin): even though it’s not general, negotiators usually demand more than they expect, consequently, you should have a margin to negotiate.

 We can’t assure you that you will make a fortune following these tips, but at least, Spaniards will be confortable and open to negotiate with you. If you want to get more advises and learn a specific vocabulary and the proper linguistic register in Spanish, you should try our Spanish for Business Course or also reserve a free trial lesson via Skype here: you will improve your language skills with us, that’s not under negotiation.

Image: business-man-again by Henk L at