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Business Etiquettes in Honduras


When doing business in Honduras, you will often hear the Spanish phrase si Dios quiere (God willing) when a promise or commitment is made. Because of the difficulties of surviving in such a poor country, most Hondurans are quite fatalistic. They are content with their current place in a business hierarchy because they know they cannot control events. Consequently, they are more likely to keep a low profile in business and avoid "rocking the boat”. Opportunities for social mobility are practically nonexistent, and Hondurans make the most they can out of where they are. Do not be surprised if a functionary or official indicates that he will be better be able to assist you if you can help him in some tangible, most often monetary, way.

Hondurans value familial and personal relationships above almost everything else – including business. They think little of stopping to talk with or help a friend on the way to an appointment or meeting. Consequently, Hondurans are often "late" from the business traveller's point of view. The best way to plan for this is to schedule in hora latina (Latin time) yourself. Have only one appointment set up for a morning or afternoon. Show up on time, expect your Honduran counterpart to be late, and accept keeping to your schedule only if si Dios quiere.

Foreign businesswomen are expected to be highly professional, appropriate and not aggressive or confrontational. Making comments or conversations about working conditions for Honduran women is one of the subjects considered "confrontational" by Honduran males. Such assertive behaviour often proves counterproductive because it not only brands the female as "aggressive" but also causes men in her group to be considered "weak" or "unmanly." Honduran males react to the so-called "aggressive" female by being more and more polite and courteous in her presence.

Many female business travellers find they can work better with firms owned and managed by women. But don't make the mistake of thinking that the Honduran businesswoman shares your philosophical outlook. Keep reminding yourself that things work out only si Dios quiere.

Meeting & Greeting

Handshakes are the common greeting among both men and women; handshakes are gentle – almost limp – and somewhat prolonged, except among Hondurans already involved in and familiar with international business standards. Titles are important, and foreign visitors should call their business counterparts by their title and last name unless requested to do otherwise.

Business Meetings

Appointments are necessary and should be made two weeks in advance. Allow plenty of time in this Latin American country, where time runs slower than it might at home. Punctuality and a hurried manner are not emphasized in this culture, and so, one must come prepared to wait. Bring materials written or translated into Spanish; although many businesspeople and government officials may speak some English, it will nonetheless make a good impression and also assist those who do not have extensive command of the English language, such as engineers and technicians. Be sure to concentrate on socialising and avoid getting straight down to business, as it will emphasize that you also place importance on establishing personal contact, very much valued in Honduras.

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