If you're looking to do business with Cuban professionals, it's a good idea to find out about the business etiquette that is a part of the office culture there. Being respectful of colleague's titles, as well as greeting professionals properly, are integral parts of Cuban business life. Practicing this etiquette will help you to make a great reputation.
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Business attire for men and women in Cuba is rather informal compared to other Latin American countries, such as Chile or Argentina, where business suits for both genders are preferred. Men can wear business casual attire--slacks and a polo shirt, are usually adequate. It is also acceptable for men to wear the native guayabera shirt, which is loosefitting, with a pair of khaki trousers or slacks. Women can wear slacks and a blouse, but can also wear a skirt, if preferred. In many cases, both men and women are permitted to wear jeans to the workplace.
When handing out business cards to Cuban professionals, it is best to address the colleague by his or her professional title and surname. If the individual does not have a professional title, i.e. "Professor" or "Doctor," it's acceptable to use Mr., Mrs., or Miss along with the person's last name. Business cards should be in Spanish on one side; present the card with the Spanish side facing the person who is receiving the card. There is no formal method for giving or getting business cards, but it's best to treat the cards with general respect, i.e. no folding or writing on the cards.
Punctuality and Business Meetings
It is best for international professionals to show up on time for all business meetings and appointments. Scheduling meetings ahead of time is ideal. Business hours are usually from 8:30 to 4:30, with a lunch break between 12:30 and 1:30. In many cases, Cuban colleagues may arrive a few minutes later. It is important to engage in a bit of small talk before the meeting begins. During the meeting, active conversation is the norm; it is not considered rude to interrupt someone while speaking, but it is important to remain pleasant.
It's essential to avoid being too persuasive when negotiating with Cuban professionals. Present logical reasons for the business proposition, and the ways that it will benefit both parties, in a reserved and well-mannered fashion. It is not appropriate to show any aggressiveness in business meetings. The final decision for negotiations is made by the person with the highest professional rank in the company, and may take some time; showing patience during the decision process goes a long way.
It is not proper etiquette to give gifts to Cuban professionals at an initial business meeting. However, it is acceptable to present business people in Cuba with small, modest gifts--this way, the gifts can show appreciation, but will not be perceived as bribes. Gifts that display a company logo are acceptable, and can serve as an indirect marketing tool, as well.
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