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Business Etiquettes in Ecuador
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Business Etiquettes in Ecuador

Meeting & Greeting

A handshake is the common form of greeting between people of both genders. There is no alternate form of greeting, but a host may cordially pat a male visitor on the back in welcoming. Visitors should stand when introduced to someone. Men stand when a woman who will be part of the meeting enters the room. Business cards are commonly used. There are no special rules regarding how or when they should be exchanged. The host usually offers a card, and the visitor presents one in return. There is no need for business cards to be bilingual. Business conversations are friendly but formal, especially at the first meeting. Familiarity will grow naturally depending on the success of negotiations and the chemistry between host and visitor.

In general, Ecuadorans are sociable and hospitable and will try to make visitors feel at ease. Continue to address your hosts by title and surname until invited to do otherwise. Lawyers are addressed as Doctor, architects as Arquitecto, engineers as Ingeniero, and college graduates may be addressed as Licenciado.

If business contacts are women, the feminine form is used: Doctora, Arquitecta, Ingeniera. These titles need not be used when speaking in English, and the simple address of Senor (Mr), Senora (Mrs) or Senorita (Miss) may be used.

Ecuadorans use the surnames of both of their parents but are addressed by the father's surname. For example, for a man named Gostavo Sanchez Moscoso, Sanchez is the father's surname, and Moscoso the mother's. He would be addressed as Senor Sanchez, but on legal documents he would sign Gustavo Sanchez Moscoso. The same is true for women. One of the reasons for using both last names is that many Ecuadorans have the same surnames, and having the maternal surname helps in differentiating among them. Most working women, even if married, use their maiden names. For example, if a woman is named Maria Arcos de Sanchez, then Arcos is her father's surname and Sanchez is her husband's surname. She may be referred to as Maria de Sanchez, but she will sign legal documents as Maria Arcos followed by her mother´s last name.

Age is not a factor in introductions at business meetings, but rank is a factor. The highest-ranking person is addressed first. The marital status of visitors does not affect the conduct or success of business meetings.

Business Meetings

It is advisable that visitors contact the Commercial Section of their local embassy in Quito or Guayaquil for information prior to scheduling appointments with business contacts in Ecuador. They can also provide information on Ecuadoran law firms that specialise in business law. Business appointments should be made at least a month in advance, with one or two follow-up calls to confirm. Punctuality is expected of visitors and hosts in business situations, but the visitor should take into account that for the host to be five to 15 minutes late for a meeting is not necessarily considered a lack of punctuality.

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