Spanish is starting to establish itself as one of the best languages for business worldwide. It might be the most important foreign language for businesses in the United States, as well as the most important in the U.K., according to a report from the British Council. However, learning Business Spanish is much more than memorizing vocabulary and formal sentences - it’s also understanding the culture and our way to do business.
Tú vs. Usted in Business Spanish
One of the most important aspects to nail down in business Spanish is whether you should use tú or usted. In Latin America, you should always use usted. In Spain, you might use tú if you’re already close to the person but, if in doubt, use usted. Nobody can ever be too polite!
Deadlines and Punctuality
Deadline, as a concept, doesn’t exist in Spanish: the best translation is fecha límite. And they’re not our strongest suit. For most people in Spain, deadlines are not seen as binding, but rather as something that you should try to achieve (if possible). Another things that we struggle with is punctuality. It’s common for people to be 15 to 30 minutes late, even in business occasions. Don’t take it personally: it’s cultural!
Meetings and Conversations
Hispanics like to take their time to meet their business partners. Unlike Americans, for example, we often talk about the weather, travels or family before meetings. You might have to go through several meetings before a final decision is made - don’t worry. We also tend to talk over each other in conversations, which is a sign that we’re truly interested in the conversation.
As any Spanish speaker will tell you, Spanish has thousands of idiomatic expressions and we use them extensively. Unlike what happens in English, for example, we will rarely have a “script” made out of a few formal sentences and pleasantries. Therefore, even advanced users may hear new idiomatic expressions in pre-meeting dialogues! But again, don’t worry, you’ll probably understand the meaning through the context.
Looking for Business Spanish classes? Take a look at our courses, private tutoring lessons or programs for corporations. You can learn Spanish online and choose the schedule that's most convenient for you - don't lose precious business hours to get to class!