Just as languages differ from country-to-country, so do business practices — specifically, communicating via email. You want to hit the correct tone for your audience, and that means knowing when to adhere to, or deviate from, conventions. Our series on business correspondence is designed to give you the tools to communicate with any country. On today’s docket? Spain.
There are a few general things and some particulars to consider when you communicate with your business partners on the Iberian Peninsula, let’s break them down into four elements:
1. Do the Groundwork
Business in Spain has a personal element, which is important to respect when conducting deals. Spaniards expect to establish strong bonds before closing deals, which means building genuine personal relationships. How do you do this? Be polite, and avoid directness. Spanish business differs from business in the US in that it skews polychronic — people tend to work on multiple deals and goals at once, as opposed to throwing themselves into one at a time. In fact, pursuing one deal relentlessly could be construed as inconsiderate.
2. Know Who You Should Be Talking to
Spanish companies tend to be hierarchical, which may differ from the “one big team” model that’s common in the U.S. People expect to work within clearly established lines of authority, meaning senior executives make decisions, and rarely delegate their work. While the country’s official language is Spanish, Catalan, Basque, and Galician are also official languages in their respective regions; it’s important to address your audience in their native language. This shows respect and an added personal touch.
3. Hit the Right Tone
While personal connections are paramount in Spain, that doesn’t mean you should take a casual tone in all business dealings. Social media has encouraged the use of the informal “you”: “tú” (singular) and “vosotros” (plural) in Spain. However, it remains a good strategy to stick, at least in the beginning of a conversation, with the formal you “usted” (singular), and “ustedes” (plural), which is still predominant in today’s Spanish business correspondence.
4. Use the Proper Structure
A Spanish email should begin with the correct salutation. When addressing someone in Spain, be sure to use their first name, followed by their family names. Family names usually consist of the father’s last name, followed by the mother’s last name. It’s common to use Mr./Mrs. (“Señor/Señora”), or Dear Mr./Mrs. (“Estimado señor/a”), plus the father’s family name. If the person you’re addressing has an academic title, use that instead of the first name, followed by the family name. You may also hear someone being addressed by the titles “Don” or “Doña”.
Next up? The introduction. Although optional, introductions help create a cordial atmosphere. The idiom “We inform you that…” (“Le informamos de que…”) is a typical example.
After the introduction, you want to state your case clearly and in an organized way. Close out with a simple, polite sign-off. You can offer greetings, apologies or services. Idioms like “Yours Sincerely” (“Atentamente”), “Sincerely” (“Cordialmente”), or “Kind regards” (“Saludos cordiales”) work well.
Ready to send an email to Spain? Hopefully this gives you a better idea of how to correspond with your co-workers in Spain.For more guidance on effective communications strategies for foreign countries, contact us!