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Take time to establish relationships and mutual trust. Be patient, it might take several trips to complete a deal. Approach business meetings and negotiations as a partner. If you change the representative of your company, be prepared to start relationship building again.
Remember that at first, greetings might be quite formal – handshake and nod of the head. When a relationship has been built, hugs, slaps on the back, and kisses can be expected.
Greet most people in your business dealings with their title and surname. Titles can include Doctor (Ph.D or physician), Profesor (teacher), Ingeniero (engineer) or Abogado (lawyer).
Be prepared for a lengthy decision making process involving several organizational layers.
Dress conservatively – dark suits and ties for men; white blouses and dark suits or skirts for women.
Don’t be surprised if your business meeting is at 8 pm. Argentine executives often put in very long days. Be on time, but be prepared to wait 30 minutes for your counterpart.
Be prepared to present a serious, intelligent, articulate argument combined with a friendly approach.
Make appointments through a third party – an enchufado – who has contacts within an industry. Prior appointments are necessary.
Take time for small talk and business entertaining. Argentines are tough negotiators who do not make concessions quickly or easily. Good relations will shorten negotiations.
Be prepared for lengthy and detailed contracts rather than verbal agreements.
The business community in Iceland is small and access to the right people is usually easy.
Because of the close-knit society, nepotism is inevitable, to some extent. Everybody knows everybody’s business and outsiders do comment on jobs being given to friends, family and business contacts.
Iceland is considered an attractive place to do business, with a recovering economy, stable government, availability of renewable resources, an educated workforce and high standard of living.
Icelanders are matter-of-fact and pragmatic but they will still do business with people they like, as friendships are important. They do not make much time for small talk in meetings but a relationship can be established outside the workplace.
Business entertaining is an important part of relationship-building and should be embraced; dinner and drinking are a natural progression from a meeting.
Meetings may be held in strange places, from a person’s home to a sauna or thermal pool.
Icelanders are outward looking and value travel and exploration. The word heimskur (ignorant) derives from the word heima (home), used in the saying ‘foolish is the one that never leaves home’. (Heimskt er heimaalið barn).
Icelanders used to have an almost cavalier attitude to business and risk but attitudes have changed since the crash of 2008. People are now much more likely to examine the long-term benefits of any business deal and to pay greater attention to its financing.
Iceland is a completely egalitarian society. Sexist or racist attitudes, or snobbery, are frowned upon.
Icelanders tend towards a ‘small island’ mentality. They are constantly comparing themselves to other countries, particularly other Scandinavian countries, and are highly competitive.
Never make comparisons between Croats and Serbians, or Croats and Bosnians and never, ever assume that all three are the same culturally.
Observe the social hierarchy; Croats are fairly class-conscious. Serbs are seen as historical enemies; Albanians as working class and Roma as the lowest of the low.
Be very wary of political discussions; many people suffered terrible tragedies in the war and may cover up their loss with dark humor. A political discussion can soon degenerate into something personal with its roots beyond the scope of the visitor’s imagination.
Croats, a bit like the British, tend to favor a ‘stiff upper lip’ and keep their personal sadness to themselves. Revealing too much about your personal life or appearing too emotional can be taken as a sign of weakness.
Business is certainly social, but not deeply personal. So expect entertaining and socializing, but not to be invited into a contact’s inner circle.
Because family is so important in Croatia, there is an element of nepotism in business, which is not seen as a negative.
Although Croatia is increasingly becoming a meritocracy, there are still vestiges of communism in management style, particularly with older managers.
Croatians respect money, education, power and influence and are fairly materialistic – a good home and a smart car are signs of prestige.
Croats in senior positions in business, or with a good education tend to be sophisticated orators and skilled negotiators; the power of speech is very strong.
People in the north may have cultural leanings towards Austria and Hungary, while those in the south feel a closer affiliation with Italy.
Nigerians expect to have close relationships with business partners. Don’t try to rush things, be patient. Things get done through connections and personal trust.
Always accept hospitality; Nigerians are generous and outgoing and will be offended if you decline.
Be aware that casual attire is often considered to be a sign of a casual attitude. Wear conservative, but lightweight, clothes.
Show great respect. Address people with their titles and honorifics. It is considered offensive in Nigeria to pass an elderly person without greeting them.
Be very patient. Things take time for many reasons, e.g., decisions – even small ones – being made at the highest level.
Do business face-to-face whenever possible. First, it shows that you are serious and second, the communications infrastructure is not reliable, and faxes and emails are easily lost.
If you are having lunch with a Nigerian business acquaintance, make sure you use your right hand (or both hands) to pass and accept dishes. The left hand is taboo, and is rarely used for any interpersonal transactions.
Be sure to check out if there are objections to smoking or drinking in your location.
Hire a good driver. Taxis in Lagos tend to be unreliable and can be unsafe.
Expect to be asked for dash (a tip) at roadblocks, in the airport, and in other situations where people help you. Respect local laws, your nation’s laws, and your company’s code of conduct.
To learn more about the other 28 cultures represented at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, go back to the main article on this topic.