Language is closely linked to culture; therefore, to fully master a foreign language requires a thorough understanding of the culture too. That is why it’s always best to use a translator who is working into their native language, as they would have a great understanding of all the cultural nuances. However, business people dealing with international clients should learn about the target audience’s culture even if they are communicating in English.
Let’s take a look at what cultural nuances business people should know if they wish to do business in Argentina for instance. The official language is Spanish; however, the dialects of Spanish used in Argentina do differ from mainland Spain dialects. Therefore, any marketing or other written documents should be translated and localised for the Argentinean market using the correct dialect.
With regards to face to face meetings there are few things to mention too. For example, visitors are expected to arrive on time; but it is very common that the people you’re visiting will keep you waiting. Also, the more important person you are meeting the longer they will keep you waiting.
In addition, if you are new to the market, you will most likely need a representative who will help with organising your initial meetings, these representatives are called enchufados; and, if you are planning to do business with the Argentinean government, you will definitely need a representative to act as an intermediary, otherwise you’re very unlikely to even get a meeting.
Please note that you should choose your local representative very carefully as it may be quite difficult to change them later on. In Argentina, personal contacts are more important than business connections; so, if you change your representative it will mean that all the relationships will need to be re-established.
It is also important to note that negotiating a contract is usually a very lengthy process. Argentina is a bureaucratic country, and even once you have a confirmation on the deal from a senior contact, there will be many people involved in the sign off process who will have to approve the contract. Most contracts are long and detailed, and the entire document can be amended until it is signed off as a whole.
Building a personal relationship with the potential client is very important, and it might pay off to know some customs related to dining and business entertainment. For example, pouring wine with your left hand is perceived as insulting. Also, taxes on imported alcohol are very high and the imported liquors are very expensive; therefore, try a local drink instead as your host will be the one paying the bill. Because the imported alcohol is so expensive, it is a great gift with Scotch being a much appreciated option. However, avoid giving wine as Argentina produces some good quality wines.
As you can see there are many cultural differences between countries, and it definitely pays off to learn about your target country culture if you’re trying to engage with their citizens.
At Global LTS we have worked with translators from around the globe and can help you with breaking the language and cultural barriers.