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5 Steps to Confianza

Confianza: you can't be successful in Mexico without it! Confianza means trust, but trust that is spiced with a distinctly Mexican flavor.

What makes trust so essential is that business in Mexico is based on relationships - not your plain vanilla business relationships, but personal, interdependent relationships. And when relationships are bound by dependency, they had better be heavily infused with trust.

But Confianza is more than just trust. It is an understood commitment to reciprocity. It indicates that both parties recognize a mutual duty to honor their relationship by extending favorable treatment, not only in business, but also in the personal arena as well. To build Confianza, your actions must demonstrate that you feel this allegiance heart and soul.

So important is Confianza that no opportunity to develop it should be ignored. The first opportunity may arise before you even meet, for example through the good word of a trusted third party if you have one. Equally important is ensuring that your Mexican counterpart understands your position, credentials, and history with the company, along with your company's reputation.

Here are some other tips:

1. Build a relationship before business. Make rapport your focus first, last and in between. Business becomes a possibility only after a personal relationship is firmly established, so be prepared to invest time in getting to know each other and to provide exclusive, personalized attention.

Be sincere in your interest in your Mexican counterparts, colleagues, and co-workers as individuals. While talking about the business at hand, also talk about yourself - your activities, your family, your hobbies, and so on. Always seek to strengthen the harmony in the relationship. "Good idea!" "That sounds great!" "This is just an idea. . . . do you think we can do that?"

2. Listen, listen and listen some more. Don't state your position on a subject until you have fully heard theirs. This may require good listening skills including patience, drawing them out with questions designed to understand more deeply, and focusing on what they are really saying rather than on what you will be saying next or on just the superficial meaning of their words. Make sure you understand correctly by summarizing back what they"ve said. Try to check out implied meanings in a more indirect or subtle way. And by all means, don't steal their thunder if you hear something you already know.

3. Promote Partnership. Emphasize the need for co-operation and working together for the success of the project. Share your knowledge, starting with the most important facts first and providing details as needed later. Co-ordinate activities. Be personally available; make sure they have your direct line, cell number, and correct email address.

Be open, positive, interested: "It is going to be a wonderful experience working together. I"m extremely excited."

4. Appeal to the aspect of reciprocity in the Partnership. "I need you and I am here for anything you need." You'll need their expertise (help, support, knowledge of how things are done in Mexico) so don't be afraid to tell them so.

• "I need this, how can we do it?"

• "What plan can I take back to my boss?"

• "What can I help you with? How can I support you? What support do you need from me?"

• "What do we need?"

5. Exercise Patience. This is one of the most important, and yet one of the hardest tasks when doing business in Mexico. The infrastructure doesn't run like a Swiss watch by any means. And people will want to make sure they have completed an exchange with a person rather than cutting it off to get to a meeting on time; relationships come first, the task a distant second. If you cut someone short, you send the deadly message that they are not important.

Take time to deal with doubts and answer questions, as well as to enrich the relationship. By the way, since your character may be assessed and reported on by everyone from the doorman to taxi drivers, shoe cleaners, desk clerks, and most certainly their secretaries, it's imperative that you extend warm and polite courtesies to every person you meet.

These steps foster the conviction that you can be trusted because you value them and you have a character worthy of Confianza.

  by Diana Rowland author of Japanese Business: Rules of Engagement


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Rowland & Associates is a premier cross-cultural consulting firm, providing essential international business skills since 1985. Our passion is bringing intercultural business success through heightened insight and agility. We believe that bold steps with exceptional preparation can create dynamic solutions.


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