You know you're doing business with Latinos when...
It fascinates me just how different Latinos are from non-Latinos when it comes to conducting business. My Gringa colleagues absolutely love going to business meetings that include Latinos. They all tell me, "Take me with you! Your meetings with Latinos are so much fun. They are warmer and livelier."
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The difference is apparent from the very start. First, it's the way Latinos interact with one another. The handshakes, hugs and even kisses among people who are meeting for the first time is common and it takes up at least five to 10 minutes of the meeting. This type of close physical contact is rare during my Anglo meetings. Sometimes people leave my meetings without even saying goodbye. Latinos also tend to spend the first 10 to 15 minutes talking about their personal lives before we get down to business.
My regular meetings are much more impersonal. We usually do a quick intro and then we get right down to business. The Latino approach makes meetings feel much more social and casual. You might not get any business from them, but the whole experience is so much fun it almost doesn't matter.
The other big difference between the two groups is that during my Latino meetings, participants often go off on tangents. We usually stick strictly to the business agenda during my other meetings. I usually need to extend the duration of my Latino meetings since they tend to get started a bit later and they go on a bit longer. Regardless, we always leave time for our goodbyes.
There have been times when Anglos don't want to join our meetings because they are so loud and they think we are more "argumentative." "Oh no!" I explain, "we're just more animated." I also find that Latinos can be more direct and passionate about their perspective, which can at times be intimidating.
I have learned to adjust my style depending on the audience. I find that my non-Latino clients seem to like my unique style and approach which is a blend of the best of Latino and Anglo business cultures. I think it's important to be true to yourself, authentic and real when you are conducting business. You might want to tone down certain aspects of your culture and style when you are conducting business, but I don't think you should completely change the way you are.