We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy. Read more about cookies

an image
  • Register
  • Log in
  • Language
Back
Show submenu Hide submenu

Business culture

Eye contact is important and socks are mandatory – irrespective of the weather. Be prepared with good quality presentations in the country’s business language Spanish.

How do I greet and address?

Greet by shaking hands in the beginning of a business relationship. Later, a kiss on the cheek is customary. Address your counterpart with Señor/Signora followed by their last name. The title "Doctor" is used for university graduates. Dignitaries, lawyers and teachers are addressed by "Doctor" and the first name.

Is there a defined dress code?

Men wear a suit and a tie whilst women, a suit or other business attire. Socks are mandatory irrespectively of the weather.

What should I consider in business meetings?

Foreigners are expected to be punctual, but traffic is a known annoyance and can be used as an excuse when necessary. The introduction is a brief presentation of participants, the company and product. Then the rest of the time is dedicated to discussing the business proposal.

What are considered effective negotiation techniques?

Consider the following:

  • Spanish is the business language in Colombia. Presentations need to be well-prepared and for the most part in Spanish.
  • Colombians will want to go through details and negotiate on price as far as possible. The decision making process is therefore lengthy.
  • Companies are hierarchical and decisions are made by top management.
  • Verbal agreements apply but must be confirmed in writing.
  • Contracts must be very detailed and precise and should be written by attorneys.
  • Failure to comply with the agreement is considered very unethical.

What else should I consider?

In larger businesses, it is good to have the "right" contacts within the network acting as a door openers.

Personal contacts are important in Colombia, which translates into numerous breakfast meetings, lunches and dinners during the negotiation period – both initially and to celebrate a clearance.

Eye contact is important.

Source: "The Unwritten Rules" (2003) Industrial Literature and Business Sweden in Colombia