How to do Business in Spain? Eating of course..
The ABC of good habits in Spanish Business
Three-course menu for lunch: Prepare yourself for long business lunches, leave your stomach free during the morning. Three courses are compulsory in Spain at noon, as well as wine and coffee to completion. The effect of alcohol is absorbed again through the much food you eat. You don’t need to fear any loose tongue. The Spaniards tolerate alcohol better than Germans. However, if you come out as being a vegetarian, vegan or an anti-alcohol fan try to keep it secret till the second or the third time out. because the Spaniards will consider it rude from you.
Clothing: In the clothing the Spaniards are always formal. You can show up in shirt and tie choice, but the suit should be rather dark and conservative, if you do not want to stand out negatively. Women have more choices and gladly they also show their femininity.
Knowing how to do Small talk is always a good skill
Conversation: In Spain you may speak about business and about private life at the same time. You should therefore not be silent when the counterparty asks for your hobbies or your favorite football club. Caution: In Madrid you would better not come out as a fan of FC Barcelona. There is a great football rivalry between the two cities.
Salutation: In Spain everyone will address you very informally. Germans should not excpect the stiff “Sie” when talking with Spaniards, that’s because they find the “tu” more sympathetic.
Presentation: please do not bore your business partner with PowerPoint presentations. In Spain you convince someone with your personality and relationships flair, rather than with numbers.
Greeting: In Catalonia you should only give your hand, as in Germany, but in Madrid men give to women two welcome kisses on the cheeks. This is not a cheap have a go, but it is part of the Spanish culture. But beware: men usually kiss each other only if they have seen several times before, or they are friends or family members. As a male business partner from abroad you should only shake hands, also to women preferably, unless they take the initiative.
Language: Spanish speak English rather bad. For important negotiations you should better hire a translator.
Breakfast: At 11:30 the Spaniards usually go for breakfast. So if it happens to have an appointment in a bar, you should not be afraid. Even if you’re in a meeting, you should not insist on continuing the session or ask for catering. In Spain canapes and sandwiches are not very common. Breakfast is usually just a coffee or an orange juice in summer.
Doing business: business is done even when eating in the bar or restaurant. Therefore don’t be irritated if you talk about other stuff on a business negotiation. The Spaniards need time to warm up before they get down to business.
Occurrence: do not be so critical! In Spanish business the German honesty and directness is not always appropriate. One feels direct criticism as impolite.
Colleagues: in Spain colleagues may flirt with you. If a man calls you “guapa”, in English “pretty”, it does not mean that he wants to go out with you. Don’t take it too seriously and play with it. Otherwise you could be quickly dismissed as dull and boring.