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Business Etiquettes in Peru
 
 
 

General

Business travellers will feel comfortable in Peru. Peruvians tend to be very friendly to foreigners and will do their best to make them feel welcome. English is widely spoken by the majority of top managers in private companies. Business deals can sometimes take a long time, especially if a government institution is involved.

Meeting & Greeting

A handshake is the most common form of greeting for both men and women. Kissing on the cheek is a common form of greeting between men and women when there is some degree of familiarity. However, Peruvians will not expect a foreigner to greet with a kiss.

Visitors should stand when being introduced to someone. Everyone stands when someone enters a room. There may be some exceptions.

Peruvians initially use titles until they feel comfortable with a visitor. Usually government officials and older people will continue to use titles. A visitor should not use a Peruvian's first name until invited to do so. Use the titles Senor (Mr), Senora (Mrs) or Senorita (Miss). Sometimes the titles Doctor or Doctora (used by lawyers) and occasionally Ingeniero (engineer) are also used. Peruvian names are as follows: first name (usually one is used, sometimes two), father's name, mother's name – for example, Luis Alberto Gomez Cuadros. He will be called Senor Gomez. Married women drop their mother's name and use their husband's name. For example, Nina Pardo Rosas marries Senor Gomez and becomes Nina Pardo de Gomez (the "de" indicates she is married). However, some married women keep their own surname.

Age is not a factor in introductions. Business conversations tend to start formally and become less formal with familiarity and time. Peruvians are friendly and talkative. They prefer to know their business partners first, before doing business. Marital status will not affect the outcome of a business meeting.

The appropriate distance between people during conversation is about an arm's length. A visitor should not touch a Peruvian during conversation, as this would be seen as rather awkward. Once a friendly relationship with a visitor has been established, a Peruvian might pat the visitor's back, touch the shoulder while shaking hands or, in the case of a woman, kiss on the cheek when greeting.

Business Meeting

While it is wise to use a local contact to schedule and organise meetings, you should handle the actual business discussions yourself. Local sponsors or partners might be needed when dealing with government or military institutions. Your local embassy in Lima can provide advice as to whom to approach and how. If you are travelling from the US, another useful institution is the American Chamber of Commerce, which has excellent contacts with various companies and organisations. Peruvian organisations tend to be hierarchical. This means that it is important to have a meeting with the real decision-maker, rather than spending hours with middle-level managers who will probably have no say in the final decision. Also, the general manager or CEO will bring along other managers to help in the discussions.

Appointments should be made at least a month in advance and should be reconfirmed a week in advance. Visitors are expected to be punctual. However, Peruvians are usually late, so be careful to leave plenty of time between appointments. Peruvians will rarely be on time for a meeting. People call it hora Peruana (Peruvian time), and this means that a meeting can start as much as an hour late. This also applies to the expected discussion time. Always allow for long meetings.

Business Negotiation

Most business meetings are held in offices. Mealtimes may be used to discuss some negotiation details. No particular rules apply. Visitors will always be offered coffee or a soft drink during a meeting. Most of the time, negotiations start with small talk. It is important not to seem too anxious to start talking business immediately.


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