Important Tips When Traveling To Chile For Business: Part II

Welcome back to the Sapphire international WiFi blog! We’re excited you’re back to learn more about our mobile hotspot device. In part one of this series, we discussed some cultural norms in Chile. We also touched on the first of our tips when it comes to business meetings in the beautiful country. In this post, we’ll share more important tips when traveling to Chile for business.

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Business in Chile: Part II

How to greet a Chilean business colleague

In Chile, greetings are important. They tend to be handshakes between men. As you and your Chilean business colleague become more familiar with one another, you may find that a handshake, a hug, and a kiss on the right cheek is appropriate. When entering a room, it’s expected to greet the most senior person first before addressing anyone else. This tradition comes from the patriarchal family structure throughout the society.

Your body language means a lot when it comes to Chilean business engagements. It’s common, if you’re part of western society, to feel slightly uncomfortable at first around Chilean business people. They tend to stand closer to the person they’re speaking with than people in countries similar to ours. If this happens, do not back away, as it is a sign of disrespect. In meetings, a conversation can get heated and elevate. Never click or snap your fingers at a Chilean. Never beckon someone with your index finger, as if to say come here. It may not come up very often, but if you click your chin, placing your fingers under it, palm facing in, and flick your hand towards the person, it’s like saying you don’t care about what they’re saying. Finally, if you slam the palm of your left hand with the first of your right hand, it’s considered a vulgar gesture.

It’s important to keep these small gestures in mind when doing business in Chile to remain respectful and make the most out of the engagement. It’s important to know the cultural expectations and business etiquette so you do not unintentionally offend potential business partners.

How Chilean business functions

The overall business atmosphere in Chile is more formal than it is here; in fact, it’s similar in many aspects to Brazil. As mentioned above, punctuality of business people not from Chile is important, however, Chileans tend to run 15 to 30 minutes late. A huge offense is to rush or hurry a Chilean business person. They dislike being hurried, and it shows in the speed at which business is conducted, which is much slower than places like Europe or North America.

When initially engaging in conversation, Chileans prefer to make a personal connection. Expertise is less important than family and company background. The entire society focuses on family and community more than it focuses on profit margins, so be prepared to share some personal stories to “break the ice” in a Chilean business meeting. In most cases, if you know the right people in Chile, red tape or the bureaucracy of things is greatly reduced. The goal of any business meeting with a Chilean company is to build rapport. Light conversation is expected before getting straight to business, which you will also find in countries like Brazil.

Chile is different than Brazil in that decision making is made by the executive, but input is expected from all levels of the structure. Also, you will typically meet with the business executive first and the subsequent meetings will be with those lower in the hierarchy.

When contacting executives or those in mid-level positions, expect to communicate through a secretary. It’s common to have a secretary handling scheduling and calls for those you’re attempting to meet with for business deals. Finally, Chilean business meetings are expected to be face-to-face. This means that most conversations over the phone are to schedule a meeting, change a meeting, or confirm a meeting. Doing business otherwise is considered offensive and lazy.

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Want to learn more about Chilean business etiquette? Read part three of this blog series now!