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Business Etiquettes in Bolivia


Although it's one of the least developed countries in South America, Bolivia's culture is not greatly different from that of its neighbours. This is especially true of the country's business people, most of whom are not part of the country's large indigenous population.

Meeting & Greeting

Bolivians tend to be formal in their business dealings. It is always best to maintain a level of professionalism. Shake hands when meeting and leaving. When a woman is introducing herself, wait for her to extend her hand. Eye contact is important.

Professional or academic titles with the surname are used in business. Common titles are "Doctor" (medical doctor or Ph.D.), "Ingeniero" (engineer), and "Licenciado" (lawyer or university degree). If someone does not have a title, the honorific titles Señor or Señora are used with the surname.

Business Meeting

Relationship building is important in Bolivia so initial meetings should always be about establishing trust and learning a little about each other.

Wait for the other party to move the conversation on to business. Meetings are generally relaxed affairs but there is always a sense of formality that should be adhered to.

Meeting schedules are not very structured in Bolivia. There may be an agenda and a starting time, but they serve as guidelines only and may act as a springboard to other related business ideas and further discussion. Time is not considered more important than completing a meeting satisfactorily, therefore meetings will continue until the discussion is completed.

Be careful not to be too direct in your communication style – negative responses should be diplomatically put so as not to cause a loss of face or dignity.

Most business is conducted in Spanish so try and arrange for your own interpreter. Similarly have any materials translated into Spanish.

Do not rush meetings or show impatience. Decisions are not generally reached at meetings – do not pressure people into making them. Meetings are simply for discussion and to exchange ideas.

Gift Giving Etiquette

Gifts are highly valued, but need not be expensive. As in many Latin American countries, knives are not appropriate gifts, as they can signify the severing of personal ties.

Business Cards

Business cards are exchanged during the initial introductions. Try and have one side of your business card translated into Spanish and make sure to include any academic qualifications on your card.





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